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FLORIDA TRIP - MARCH 2007
by Karl Lukens
Tuesday Feb. 27th-
We left the house on Sea Grove Ave. At 6:40 am to make the 7:30 ferry for Lewes, DE on leg one of the trip. Nothing unusual in the way of birds, but did get a few White-winged Scoters on the Jersey side. Left Lewes around 9:30 am headed for the Annapolis area, then DC and I-95. We picked up breakfast egg sandwiches on the way. Hit I-95 around noon, and headed south. Arrived at Florence, SC at 6:30 pm, checked into the Hampton Inn, instituted cocktail hour, and headed for Ruby Tuesday for dinner (of course Karl had a steak!).
Wednesday Feb. 28th-
Breakfast at the motel and on the road at 8:00 am with a destination of the Comfort Inn in Titusville, FL. Nice weather, nice day, arrived at the motel at 3:30 pm and got organized. From the 2nd floor balcony of the room we looked across a small lake and saw 6-8 Black Vultures on the ground with a Bald Eagle eating a fish! We also had a couple of Great Egrets and a Great Blue and an Anhinga in a small tree. Not a bad view. Traditional cocktail hour followed by dinner at the near by Durango.
Thursday March 1- A 7:30 breakfast at the motel, and off to Merritt Island and the Black Point Drive, a 7 mile auto tour around ponds and water with lots of waders, ducks, etc. Good photo ops. Close views of Egrets, Herons, Spoonbills, Coots, Moorhens, White and Glossy Ibis, and Wood Storks. We then spent an hour or more driving, stopping and listening for the Florida Scrub Jay, which is supposed to be here, but could not connect. We decided to check out the Manatees at the viewing area a few miles up the road still looking for jays. The Manatees were very cooperative; it was worth the side trip. Looked for jays again, found an Armadillo, and then left the area around 5:00 pm for cocktail hour and dinner again at the Durango.
Friday March 2-
Again a motel breakfast at 8:00 am and back to Merritt Island specifically for the Scrub Jay. Found good habitat and finally at 9:30 we got a pair of Florida Scrub Jays close to the road in the tops of some brush. A High five, a Lifer for Judy, and we are off to travel to the Florida City/Homestead area. But first we stop at the Viero Wetlands (in Brevard County), a “Brig” type drive in an area where a Masked Duck had been a month or so earlier (but now gone). A great place to bird. We were greeted by a Crested Caracara as we entered and saw many ducks, waders, a Great Blue Heron eating a snake, Anhingas, a couple of Sandhill Cranes, and another visit by the Caracara. Hard to leave, but we still had a long drive to South Florida. Arrived at Hampton Inn, Florida City at 5:30 pm. Checked in, freshened up, and off to dinner across the street at the Mutineer for some good sea food with complimentary drinks from the motel.
Saturday March 3-
Motel breakfast at 8:oo am off to Wakodahatchee at 8:45. This is another great water/wading bird spot. Our hope here was to find a Limpkin, a life bird for Judy. Great views of Common Moorhens, Purple Gallinules, Little Blues, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Great Blues, a few yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Anhingas, etc. I was mentioning looking for a Limpkin to Judy, when a birder overhears and speaks up, and says there is one out around the next turn. We immediately go and find the Limpkin and after photographing and watching for a short while, it slowly walked into some vegetation and disappeared! An hour later we found it again still hidden away, with only a small piece of the bird showing, and not really detectible if you didn’t know it was there. We got lucky. Weather sunny and in the 80's! Next stop Loxahatchee. We did the Visitors Center and a short boardwalk, and some views of the impoundments from the parking lot and nearby paths. We did not do the long walk around the impoundments; probably spoiled by the ease of viewing at Wakodahatchee. We did however stop on the way out where a birder was looking up into some trees. Pulled over and found he was looking at a Great Horned Owl nest with a fluffy, white owlet in it. I looked around and soon found one of the adults not far away. Meanwhile, a Park police officer stops and proceeds to give us both tickets for parking on the roadside where I admit, it did say “no parking” on a sign. Unfortunately the ticket was not for “No Parking” which we were expecting, but for “Failure to comply with Special Regulations” with a cost of $125.00!! Not a good move on our behalf, but a bad public relations move on the part of the officer! Expensive Owl! Oh well, off to the next area, the Aero Club in Wellington, and finally Brian Piccolo Park for Burrowing Owls. Nothing at the Aero Club site, maybe the Lane Guide is somewhat outdated? We then head to Piccolo before ending the day. After a $2.00 entry fee, we found our way to an open field where there were several areas marked off with yellow poles and tape with small mounds within. In one of these there was a Burrowing Owl sitting. Only half its body visible but a nice view, and another Lifer for Judy! It was then time to head for the motel, arriving at 5:30 pm in time for our cocktail hour, and dinner.
Sunday March 4-
Breakfast at the motel at 8:00 am and on the way to the south Miami suburbs to look for the bulbul and parakeets. First we tried the residential area around the Royal Palms Tennis Club, and later the grounds at Kendall Hospital, but could only come up with a bunch of noisy, non-countable, Red-masked Parakeets. Also struck out at Fuchs Park, and intentionally avoided the massive crowds at Matheson Hammock, and the Fairchild Tropical Gardens. Tried a couple more spots for Monk Parakeets and missed, and then back to the motel. It was a long day with little to show in the way of new birds.
Monday March 5-
This is the day for the trip to the Keys. Up at 7:00 am, breakfast, and on our way at 8:00 am. Drove through Key Largo and made the 1st stop at the Wild Bird Center where we found Reddish Egret, Great Blue and Great White Heron, Brown Pelican, and other Egrets and Herons. Stopped at Marathon for a Burrowing Owl Site at the Golf Course-none. We continued down the keys viewing the beautiful scenery and birds. At Key West we birded the Tropical Gardens here we found Western Kingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Went to an area where the local bird club meets and where White-crowned Pigeon could be found - no luck. Briefly checked out Fort Zachary Taylor and turned north for home at 5:00 pm. No Key Deer, but on the way back we did see a Magnificent Frigatebird around Marathon. Dark by the time we got to the motel, and a very good, late seafood dinner.
Tuesday March 6-
This is Everglades Day and maybe a Short-tailed Hawk. Up at 7:00 am, motel breakfast, and off to the Glades. On the way through the “agri” fields, we encountered several Loggerhead Shrikes. Then, at the entrance to the Park, there was a buteau flying with some vultures. We jumped out of the van to get a better view, and voila, a Dark Morph Short-tailed Hawk was soaring. After a few minutes it drifted out of sight and we were on our way with another Lifer for Judy. Royal Palms had a number of land birds, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed and White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-rumped, Worm-eating, Prairie, and Palm Warblers, plus the usual water birds. Mahogany Hammock, Paurotis Pond, West Lake, Mrazek Pond, Eco Pond, and Flamingo were all birdy and interesting, but no Lifers. A really nice day as we finished up at 3:15 pm.
Wednesday March 7-
Up at 7:00 am, motel breakfast, and on our way to Naples via Shark Valley. The target bird today was the Snail Kite. At the area of the Shark Valley Tram and the Miccosukee Indian Restaurant, along the Tamiami Trail, we stopped to view to the north for the Snail Kite. After several false alarms and 15-20 minutes, Karl sighted a Snail Kite and got it in the scope for Judy to view although she had it in the binoculars , another Lifer for her. For the next ˝ hour we watched the kite and found 2 others, an adult male and female and a juvenile in total-nice! As we continued to Naples we sighted 8-10 Swallow-tailed Kites soaring above the road; a little icing on the cake. A short stop at Fakahatchee - Big Cypress Bend, where there were nesting Bald Eagles and cavorting Otters, and then on to the Comfort Inn in Naples and dinner at The Cracker Barrel. Contacted Ginny Diehm, who had moved to Punta Gorda from New Jersey last year, and agreed to meet at “Ding” Darling in the morning.
Thursday March 8-
Up at 6:30 am, breakfast at the motel, and off to meet Ginny at Sanibel around 8:30. Traffic and construction slowed us a bit, but we did meet at 8:45 at the Darling visitor’s center. The drive around the ponds and impoundments was great. Shore birds, waders, pelicans, really nice. While watching the White Pelicans we hear a voice “Karl,Judy”, and there we find Dave Ward. Dave is from Avalon, NJ and a part time Floridian. He is, of course, the originator of the now famous Avalon Sea Watch; a small world. We finish the drive around and try the Bailey Tract impoundments, and then head back to the motel for rest, cocktails, and to Giovonni’s for a great Italian dinner.
Friday March 9-
Motel breakfast and off to Corkscrew Swamp. Nice Visitor’s Center and boardwalk trail. Here we found Painted Bunting at a feeder, many waders, and land birds such as Red-belly, Sapsucker, Downy, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, N. Parula. Finally, at the end of the trail, a calling Barred Owl. Next stop Babcock-Webb WMA where we struck out on Bachman’s Sparrow and Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Back to the motel and dinner at an Italian Pizza place-very good.
Saturday March 10-
Today we drive to the Kissimmee area and bird as we go. Several places for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and FL Scrub Jay were investigated, such as the scrub patch at Rte. 74 and 29 (no jays but 10 Sandhill Cranes), and the Venus Flatwood Preserve (now apparently called the Tiger preserve), as well as the Archbold Biological Station where we did find another pair of Florida Scrub Jays. Diggers Road produced 2 Caracaras, and 2 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. Sandhill Cranes and a Wilson’s Snipe were found north of Arbuckle Creek Rd. However, the burrowing owl site at Arbuckle showed no evidence of owls. Then it was time for the Best Western Motel and dinner.
Sunday March 11-
We are now on eastern daylight time. Two days to drive home. The first leg, from Kissimmee to Dunn, NC is about 500 miles. Interestingly, as we were leaving the Kissimmee area on a major highway, we spotted a flock of Wild Turkeys on the road shoulder; a new trip bird. We arrive at the Comfort Inn at 5:30 pm. Cocktail hour, and then dinner at the Sage Brush Steak House.
Monday March 12-
Leave Dunn, NC at 6:30 am and head up I-95. It was a long drive through several states until we reach the Ferry at Lewes at 2:45 pm (Ferry at 4:15 pm). A stop at Henlopen State Park produced a Brown-headed Nuthatch and then back to the ferry. At 5:45 pm we were at Cape May, and drive to pick up Cheese Steaks for dinner. Along the way we find an American Bittern at the north end of the Meadow. A nice finish to the day.
Total Bird Species - 116
Judy Life Birds - Florida Scrub Jay, Limpkin, Burrowing Owl, Short-tailed Hawk, Snail Kite.
Karl Millenium Birds - Wood Stork, Florida Scrub Jay, Limpkin, Snail Kite.
SPECIES SEEN in Florida ~ Florida Checklist ~ 116 seen
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull
Great Horned Owl
Great Crested Flycatcher
--- ACCIDENTALS--- Not ABA Countable
---- STATISTICS -----
Species in checklist - 499
Species seen w/o acc. - 116
Percent seen - 23.25%
Printed March 23, 2007 ~ KARL data set Page 1
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