Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quality vs Quantity

  Continuing with the same mind set of finding all the lingering rarities, I started my day at Merrie Christmas Park. I arrived at 7 am looking for the Wilson's Warbler that has been hanging around. The park is pretty small but is packed with huge Banyans and Australian Pines. As daylight broke the birds began waking up and I immediately got Gray Catbird but no sign of the Wilson's. It has been associating with a feeding flock in the park so all I had to do was find the group of birds and I should be able to find the warbler. Unfortunately after an hour I had no luck... I really did not find much of anything in the park until I heard the trill of an Eastern Screech-Owl! First owl of the year, CHECK. I then made my way over to Matheson Hammock hoping to find the continuing Blue-winged Warbler near the picnic area. Once again I just had to find the feeding flock it was associating with and it would have been an easy bird to find. Key words: WOULD HAVE BEEN. I waited for about half an hour and watched several warblers come through the Strangler Fig I was underneath, but finally no Blue-winged. I did pick out an American Redstart, Palm, Prairie and Black-and-White Warbler. Since I was at Matheson I felt it would make the most sense to run down the West Trail (directly across the street from Fairchild Botanical Gardens) and check for the Red-headed Woodpeckers in the dog park before work. Finally my luck started to turn around. When I got down there fellow birder Larry Manfredi had already spotted them and pointed out the juvenile. It was being very territorial and chasing off all the Red-bellied Woodpeckers in  the area. Unfortunately I was not able to relocate the adult that has been frequenting the area.

You can see the red beginning to develop on this juvenile

  While snapping pictures of the Red-headed, Larry's son Philip pointed out a Pileated Woodpecker preening on a telephone post. Three woodpecker species in 2 minutes! I tried looking for a Downy Woodpecker or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and making it a big woodpecker morning but it was not happening today. I guess the way things were going I could not be too upset... at least I got some new birds for the year!

Early morning preening

  Unfortunately working in a park does not mean I get to bird watch all day. HAHA YEAH IT DOES! Just walking from the parking lot to the nature center in Bill Sadowski park I saw Eastern Phoebe, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Palm Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. As I was sitting handling paperwork I received a phone call from Robin Diaz about a La Sagra's Flycatcher on Virginia Key. I immediately packed up and ran out of the office. On the way I stopped in at Merrie Christmas Park hoping to snatch up the Wilson's but once again I missed out on it. I finally made it to Virginia Key and as soon as I got to the fork where the bird was located I saw a dark silhouette perched in a dead Australian Pine. At first I thought it was an Osprey but when I looked closer I had finally found the illusive Great Black Hawk! I have tried for years to see this bird and even though it is not an American Birding Association (ABA) countable bird it is still really neat to see. Robin Diaz wrote a great piece on the bird, you can read about it here. Unfortunately I got one shot of the bird before my camera died. I guess everything happens for a reason because I was never able to relocate the flycatcher anyway. As of day two my total is 55 native species not counting the 3 ABA countable exotics (Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove and European Starling).

Great way to end the day!

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