Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gone Birdin'

  Just because I was ahead of schedule doesn't mean I get to relax. Right after hitting #251 I was already making plans with Roberto "Toe" Torres to get in another pelagic trip before June. We had decided on an overnight fishing/birding trip that would leave from Black Point Marina Friday May 24th and return Saturday May 25th. He had just returned from the Ponce Inlet pelagic trip with Michael Brothers which got terrific birds like White-tailed Tropicbird and was hoping to find another rarity for Miami-Dade County. Thanks to Leica Store Miami, I was able to bring along the Leica V-Lux 4 hoping that I or my brother Mike would be able to get some video... and that we did!

  Our first stop was Pacific Reef Light. It's a lighthouse a little over 10 miles offshore and is the only roosting spot in the area. As soon as we pulled up we could tell the Brown Boobys were out in force. They lined up around the structure and let us get close enough for Mike to get amazing video before flushing off and circling around. We tried hard to turn one into a Red-footed Bobby but unfortunately it wasn't happening. Our plan was to continue birding offshore while doing some trolling until nightfall. Unfortunately the Mahi were not biting but we did get great views of a pair of Green Sea Turtles copulating! This is only the second time I've ever seen this and both times were with Toe this year. He just seems to put animals in the mood...

Good luck charm

  As the day went on I finally got my first year bird of the trip - Audubon's Shearwater! Not only was this a year bird but it was also a lifer. They were feeding on the surface as several Sooty Terns dipped down to pick off leftovers. It was awesome to see them together feeding wing-by-wing. Again we tried for Mahi but we just couldn't get them to bite. 

Sooty Tern up high and Audubon's Shearwaters down low

  Throughout the afternoon we kept coming across feeding flocks of birds but it was not until the early evening that we had our first storm-petrel. My lifer Wilson's Storm-Petrel that is! Watching it fly by with it's little feet dangling behind the body just made me think about how tough they really are. It is such a difficult life out in the open ocean. There is not much of anything except for sun. Lots and lots of sun. By dusk we had seen several storm-petrels and one even danced along the water's surface feeding right along the side of the boat. Now is when the fishing got good. All day we had just been feeding the Triggerfish below but once they went to bed the guys starting hooking fish regularly. As for myself, I hit the hay like the Triggerfish and dreamed about Fea's Petrels until 4 am Saturday morning.

The only one that stopped and the photo is still lousy!

  The next morning started with my lifer BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL! Of course with my luck we were in Monroe County still at the snapper spot - DOH!! After that fail we spent hours trolling around and looking for another Band-rumped but nada. We did find the biggest feeding flock of the weekend and the biggest Toe had ever seen. It literally must've had 200+ Audubon's Shearwaters feeding alongside of Brown Boobys, Bridled and Sooty Terns. It was incredible! The video clip does not even do it justice.

  The trip was a huge success bringing in 8 Yellow-tailed Snappers, 1 Red Grouper, 1 Black Grouper, 4 Mutton Snappers, 1 Triggerfish (we had to show em a lesson for taking all of our bait), 2 years birds and 3 lifers. At this point I thought I was done for May and was already mentally preparing for my vacation to North Carolina but all that would have to wait. The day after getting back Bill Boeringer found a Red Knot at a quarry lake between Black Point Marina and Biscayne National Park. I ran out the second I got the text message but missed the bird. I tried at Cutler Wetlands (another local hotspot that has had them in past years) but again dipped. There was no way I was gonna wait until fall so I went back to Cutler the very next morning and sure enough the bird was there feeding by its gorgeous self. I have only seen Red Knot in the fall when they are in drab gray plumage but the rusty red was definitely impressive and a worthy way to end May and start my "Vacation Mode" mentality. At this point not only did I hit my goal of 250 but surpassed it and finished at 254 birds with three days left before June!

A productive weekend!

  This is going to be a Memorial Weekend that will go down as one of the best I've ever had and it couldn't have been documented this well without the help of Leica Store Miami (www.leicastoremiami.com) and the great products they provide. Hopefully the rest of June will be as rewarding with more pelagics and that sneaky Wild Turkey!!


  1. Hey!
    I have followed this blog since day one! Continue the great work, I have learned a lot.

    Thank you very much , G

  2. Thanks for following. I appreciate the support!

    - Rangel

  3. Well envious of the pelagic stuff, keep it up, we're sure you'll make it! Cheers. Rick and Elis - Wader Quest