April 16, 2015 - Part II of Jeremy and Sarah's incredible trip to Florida in March. You can read Part I here . You can also ...

RBS - Florida Free Time Part II - by Jeremy Dominguez

April 16, 2015 -

Part II of Jeremy and Sarah's incredible trip to Florida in March. You can read Part I here. You can also find more of Jeremy's photos on his Flickr page!!

Florida Free-Time 
 - Jeremy Dominguez

Florida - Day 4 (con't)

Déjà vu, same trail no bird and all of the birders had left except two nice older ladies and one man who had been there since before we originally had gotten there. The 5 of us decided to split up and look for the bird along the part of the trail that it was most frequently seen. It was about 30 minutes until the park closed and we heard the man say, “Quail Dove!” My heart instantly dropped thinking I missed it, and I quickly headed toward the sound of the man’s voice a little ways down the trail. Sarah and the man were standing there saying, “It’s right in there”, pointing towards what looks like nothing to me. Binoculars up, some quick scanning, and there it was! I caught a glimpse of this rarity. Some field marks mentally noted real quick and it disappeared.

Finally! Key West Quail-Dove
We franticly started scanning again. How did it just disappear again? Then it happened, another glimpse of it, then another, and another. Satisfied with our looks the man said, “It’s heading towards us and will most likely cross the trail giving us unobscured looks.” We waited about 20 seconds and it happened. The bird was right in front of us walking across the open trail. It seemed to walk slowly but it was only exposed for a couple of seconds. Just long enough for me to get one picture of it. Success! We did it! 2 ABA code 4s in one day. Sarah and I couldn’t believe it. We were on a bird high.

Florida - Day 5

Sarah and I stayed in Key West and woke up early to catch our ferry to Dry Tortugas. It is a small Island off of the coast of Key West. This place was beautiful and had lots of nesting colonies of birds that are almost impossible to see anywhere else in the ABA Area.

After enjoying the two hour ferry ride we arrived at last. It was straight to business for me. I pulled out the scope and started scanning all the birds flying around. Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, and Magnificent Frigatebird, all were lifers for Sarah and I. After about an hour of scanning for some birds Sarah wanted to go play in the water (beautiful beaches were hard to resist). Sarah went and snorkeled but I was all business and continued scanning (I'm also not a huge fan of swimming).

Another hour went by and Sarah joined me again. She was telling me about all the fish she had seen while snorkeling, when I spooted what looked like a Brown Booby perched out on an old wood dock. Only had distant looks but the field marks reassured us it was a Brown Booby I wondered, "Where are all of the Masked Booby?" We then explored more of the Island not seeing a lot of new birds but still enjoyed ourselves.

Brown Noddy
As we were boarding the ferry back to the main land we asked the captain, “Where are the Masked Boobys?” He smiled and said that he will take us by the island they nest on. Ask and you shall receive, I guess. The captain delivered by taking us right by an island filled with Masked Booby. After getting some good looks and a couple of pictures we gave the captain a thumbs up and he sped up the ferry and we were Key West bound. After docking back on Key-west I told Sarah, “Let's walk around a bit. Who knows we might find a White-crowned Pigeon.” Sure enough, we did. With little effort, I might add. We finished our evening relaxing poolside; we were in the Keys after all. 

Florida - Day 6

Egyptian Goose
We left the keys and start heading towards Miami. I had some goals in mind for Miami: parakeets, parrots, Egyptian Goose, and Wilson’s Plover. Our first stop was the hospital! No, we weren’t sick, it was a hotspot and lots of cool birds were reported here. We found a Mitered Parakeet (not a countable ABA bird), but not much else. We decided to head to Crandon Park, a big place with lots of lizards running around - I was just happy they weren’t alligators. This park was right on the ocean so we started walking the beach in search of shorebirds.

Wilson's Plover
We weren’t disappointed, Plovers everywhere. Semipalmated, Piping, Snowy, and yes a Wilson’s, too! Feeling satisfied we started looking around more of the park and we heard it: Sandhill Cranes. We decided to check them out when we suddenly ran into one of our goal birds: Egyptian Goose (now countable for the ABA). The day winded down and Sarah and I started thinking about the long drive home back to Ohio from Miami. Then we started thinking about the Florida birds we hadn’t seen yet. Florida Scrub Jay and Snail Kite. Two birds we hadn’t seen and two awesome birds we wanted to catch a glimpse of before heading back to Ohio.

Florida - Day 7

It was our final day in Florida and we planned our route home, which included a couple places along the way to see our two target species.

Snail Kite
First stop: Lake Front Park (Saint Cloud). After only minutes of being out of the car we saw a Snail Kite perched and several others, including 1 male, kiting over the marshy part of the lake. We took some photos, enjoyed some more Limpkins, and then we hit the road to Ocala National Forrest. When we arrived at Ocala we decided to go right where the Scrub Jays had been reported. Again, after only minutes, we had success. Scrub Jay! Feeling very accomplished, Sarah and I decided to bite the bullet and head back to Ohio in one long drive from Ocala to Dayton.

Florida Scrub Jay
Sarah and I had a great trip birding Florida and seeing almost every bird we went to see (darn Mangrove Cuckoo). I was able to snag 40 lifers and Sarah had even more than that. Can’t wait until the next time I head back to the Land Down Under.

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