|Even with horrible light the Leica digiscoping setup takes amazing photographs!|
Saturday I had the opportunity to lead Deering Estate at Cutler's monthly bird walk. It is on the second Saturday of every month and is free with the purchase of admission onto the property. Deering is a 444-acre piece of prime habitat. It lies right on Biscayne Bay so has Mangrove Forests, Maritime Hammock and Pine Rockland! During this walk there was a heavy fog that made scoping over the bay for Common Loon and Horned Grebe impossible, so we just made our way down to the hammock. We came across several fruiting Gumbo Limbos that were packed with Yellow-rumped Warblers and things were beginning to seem pretty birdy. As we walked north along with estate we found a White-crowned Pigeon perched on the top of a snag! What a neat time to get a year bird. Every one got great views before it took off to the east. Yearbird #180! We wrapped up our walk and I went over to meet with Josh Friers. He escorted me onto the Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) to look for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. We had seen them during the HARB walk late in 2012 so it was just a matter of time before I had the chance to tick them off for the year. Within a couple minutes we found 4 perched in a Strangler Fig and along a barbwire fence. SUCCESS! Finally something was working out for me this weekend...
|My first Coral Snake|
|One of my top birds for the year!|
Since I still had all the great Leica optics I made my way over to Crandon Park in Key Biscayne on February 13th to do a shorebird survey. There is massive habitat loss due to urbanization and many of my favorite coastal birds have been forced to find alternative wintering and nesting sites. By keeping tabs on the numbers of species and individuals I can help asses what needs to be done to protect them and keep them coming back. While driving south looking for any Piping Plovers in the Bear Cut Preserve, I saw two birds flying together towards Miami Beach. The long pointed wings and odd head shape lead to a very interesting silhouette that was incredibly easy to identify. Black Skimmer! One of the coolest seabirds to see anywhere as they skim the surface of the water for prey with their completely uneven bills. I wrapped up my survey with another year tick and headed to the Crandon Gardens in search of another. All last year I had been following a Least Bittern around the remains of the old Crandon Park Zoo. The large ponds with tall grasses were perfect for this little cryptic hunter. I had originally seen it in April but not again until late in the year when it would be seen 3-5 a week! The bird would even be seen wandering completely in the open along the banks of the pond. As I sat there staking out the area I heard the unmistakable call from the grasses just to my left. The bird called once more but never came out to show itself. At the end of Thursday February 13th my total for the year is 185 species. Just 15 more until I hit my goal of 200 by the end of February!
|Not a bad way to start the day|