Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Fourth Vagrant!

  After the first weekend in March I have made some good strides in the direction of hitting the two-thirds mark. I was basically lucking out all over the place! Saturday March 2nd started at The annex with Ezequiel Bugallo. He's been getting me good birds all year so I'm making sure to stick with this stud. It was a frigid, windy morning that had us ready to earn every one of our birds. The second we started walking #192 - Barn Swallows zipped right passed us heading north. Things were already starting to look up! We hung out for an hour and a half for a total of 37 species including a Louisiana Waterthrush but nothing else was new. We made our way to Lucky Hammock but things were completely dead. The wind was brutal and not much was moving around. We stopped for gas and had a decision to make... tough it out and hope things turn around soon or call it quits for the day.  

The decision maker

  It was a pretty short conversation! Once we saw the Common Myna we geared up and went to the C-102 canal and rock quarry. The place was full of swallows! Most were Tree Swallows but we also had #193 - Northern Rough-winged and Cave along with a Purple Martin. That brought our count to 5 total swallow species for the day in early March! We arrived to the little hammock that runs along the quarry lake and canal and pished for a bit. Still not very much action but Ezik had noticed some ducks in the middle of the quarry lake so we went over to check them out. We drove to a central vantage point and saw a single Ring-necked Duck with six Northern Shovelers. Another year bird! 

Once in a lifetime photo opportunity

  With the way things were going we shot over to Black Point Marina in search of some bay ducks. The tide was high so most of the birds were in relatively close. Red-breasted Mergansers and Pied-billed Grebes were all over the place and even a white morph Great Blue Heron was present along the jetty. Once we got to the end we scanned over the bay and picked out a single Black Scoter! I had seen two birds earlier this year in the same location so it makes me think they have been wintering just off the jetty. We headed back to the car and decided to head north on 87th avenue once we left the park. Along the canal was an extremely early Gray Kingbird! We pulled over and watched the bird for a bit before making our way to a mini wetland that had been harboring a Solitary Sandpiper. We scanned through the grasses and found the bird working the shoreline. As soon as I grabbed my camera a Red-shouldered Hawk skimmed the water and flushed everything! The bird went wayyy to the southeastern corner of the wetland and made photos impossible.

Great bird for early March

  The next day, Sunday March 3rd was spent birding Matheson Hammock with close friend Jared Guerra. We were able to scope out the west trail along with the dog park, mangrove trail, atoll beach and picnic area hammock. It was still a bit chilly and with the exception of the Red-headed Woodpecker that has been hanging around since last year, real slow. As we packed up to leave, my car's clutch finally had it. I have no idea how we made it home... it was barely letting me change gears and I was convinced it was going to have to be towed. Luckily I made it home but of course as I am sitting around vehicle-less I get a phone call from Angel Abreu. He and Mariel Abreu found a Thick-billed Vireo at Bill Baggs State Park and there was nothing I would be able to do 'til the next afternoon! 

Preening and trying to warm up

  As soon as my car was left at the mechanic I found a ride and high-tailed it to Cape Florida. I arrived at 3 pm and hung out til 6pm. The bird made a brief showing right where Angel and Mariel had it the day before giving awesome looks before working it's way south along the restricted trail and disappearing for the day. Another great find by the Nature is Awesome duo and my fourth Caribbean vagrant for year bird #197!


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