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csanchez7
Sunday 1st January 2012, 21:05
Going to keep a year list on here this year -- let's see where it takes me and how it evolves.

Just about one hour of effort this morning to start off my 2012 year list, visiting a small local park and the immediate area around where I live. Summer Tanager was the first bird I saw for the year, which I had after just exiting the car at Kendale Lakes Park in the morning. Along with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, probably the best birds of the day. Did not visit any really decent habitat (Northern Cardinal) or any parking lots (Rock Pigeon) so many common species were missed. Pretty representative list of the more common winter species in extreme southeast Florida.

1) Summer Tanager
2) Ring-billed Gull
3) Northern Mockingbird
4) Yellow-throated Warbler
5) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
6) Palm Warbler
7) Northern Parula
8) Yellow-rumped Warbler
9) Prairie Warbler
10) Blue-headed Vireo
11) Ruby-throated Hummingbird
12) Eurasian Collared-Dove
13) Black-and-white Warbler
14) American Kestrel
15) Monk Parakeet
16) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
17) Boat-tailed Grackle
18) Great Egret
19) Eastern Phoebe
20) Fish Crow
21) American Coot
22) Green Heron
23) Great Blue Heron
24) Pied-billed Grebe
25) Anhinga
26) Turkey Vulture
27) Black Vulture
28) Tricolored Heron
29) White Ibis
30) Common Gallinule
31) Short-tailed Hawk

Carlos

csanchez7
Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 00:37
Picked up a few birds in the morning just by driving towards a shopping center and at the shopping center itself:

32) Blue Jay
33) Rock Pigeon
34) Mourning Dove
35) Common Myna

Birded around the Chekika Unit of Everglades National Park only for about an hour mid-morning. On the drive in, I quickly picked up several birds perched along the wires, including the Florida race of Red-shouldered Hawk and American Kestrel. These are two of the most common raptors inside the park (kestrel only in winter). A White-tailed Kite was a real treat, however, which began to fly away as soon as it saw that I had spotted it. The hammock itself was dissapointingly quiet compared to early December, and I had far less diversity than expected. The parking lot was completely overrun by Killdeer. In the hammock, Orange-crowned Warbler was a nice treat among the abundant Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers. A White-eyed Vireo was actively singing and afforded good views, as well. After that, it was time to end my little excursion.

36) Red-shouldered Hawk
37) White-tailed Kite
38) Common Yellowthroat
39) Little Blue Heron
40) Belted Kingfisher
41) Eastern Meadowlark
42) Loggerhead Shrike
43) European Starling
44) Killdeer
45) Double-crested Cormorant
46) Red-bellied Woodpecker
47) White-eyed Vireo
48) Orange-crowned Warbler
49) Gray Catbird
50) American Crow

Carlos

csanchez7
Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 21:28
Picked up some more birds today, including Osprey while driving on the Florida Turnpike and House Sparrow at the supermarket parking lot. I started the morning checking out a known wintering site for Bronzed Cowbird on SW 40th St and 87th Ave in the parking lot of a Cuban restaurant called La Carreta. This southwestern US and Central American species has been successfully colonizing extreme southeast Florida and can now be considered a locally common resident. I counted twenty individuals today amongst the big wielding flock of Boat-tailed Grackles, Fish Crows, and European Starlings. I tried to bird A.D. Barnes Park for more wintering passerines, but after ten minutes and 30mph winds I decided to retreat (but did pick up Pine Warbler in the process of said retreat).

I decided to bird Cutler Wetlands instead, the birdiest freshwater marsh in all of urban/suburban Miami-Dade county (not counting Everglades National Park, of course). Because it is surrounded by suburban developments, birds tend to congregate here. I quickly picked up a variety of waders, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including Glossy Ibis, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, American White Pelican, Red-breasted Merganser, and Horned Grebe. The Horned Grebe was the best of the lot and quite a rare species this far south, especially since it was on a suburban, man-made lake across the street from the wetlands proper. As I headed back to the car, a surprise Wood Stork flew by, another new bird for 2012.

51) Bronzed Cowbird
52) House Sparrow
53) Osprey
54) Pine Warbler
55) Glossy Ibis
56) Snowy Egret
57) Greater Yellowlegs
58) Lesser Yellowlegs
59) Long-billed Dowitcher
60) Stilt Sandpiper
61) Green-winged Teal
62) Least Sandpiper
63) American White Pelican
64) Mottled Duck
65) Red-breasted Merganser
66) Horned Grebe
67) Cattle Egret
68) Wood Stork
69) Blue-winged Teal

Carlos

csanchez7
Thursday 5th January 2012, 21:13
I went to A.D. Barnes Park almost squarely in the middle of the day. Perhaps not the most productive time of day for flyover species, but still productive for wintering passerines and raptors as they stay concentrated within the small park even if they are a little trickier to find. My first stop was a stand of willows and cattails by the pond, where I pished in Gray Catbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a single Common Yellowthroat. A Blue Jay was making a commotion in the live oak overhead, and I soon found why -- a Sharp-shinned Hawk was sitting quietly in the dense foliage. A Red-winged Blackbird was calling quietly in the cattails and revealed itself after a brief search.

I continued onwards to the southern end of the main hammock, where I located a small feeding flock that had a Prairie and a female Black-throated Blue Warbler, plus the uncommon for this far south Ruby-crowned Kinglet. On the southeast end of the park in a mixed grove of live oak and brushy growth, I located another feeding flock which included a male Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Palm Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Magnolia Warbler.

Heading into the main hammock, I continued to locate more small feeding flocks here and there, which added Orange-crowned Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo to the day list but the wintering Wilson's Warbler eluded me today. A cooperative White-crowned Pigeon was a nice surprise and my last year bird for the day. Some drug dealing seemed to be happening on the boardwalk inside the hammock, so I decided to make myself scarce and end an otherwise quiet, average day at the park.

70) Sharp-shinned Hawk
71) Ruby-crowned Kinglet
72) Black-throated Blue Warbler
73) Red-winged Blackbird
74) Magnolia Warbler
75) Yellow-throated Vireo
76) White-crowned Pigeon

Carlos

csanchez7
Friday 6th January 2012, 22:49
I agreed to meet my birding friend, Alex Harper, out in the C-357 Sparrow Fields just outside of the Chekika entrance to Everglades National Park to look for wintering sparrows today. We were not disappointed.

At 6:20AM, with dawn quickly approaching, we had already started along the trails with our first of two Barn Owls, patrolling the fields like white ghosts. These quickly gave way to the day shift in the form of half a dozen Northern Harriers, whose insistent, piercing whistles were a constant backdrop to our experience at this location. Other dawn sightings included a large flock of over a hundred White Ibis leaving their day roost, a White-tailed Kite harrying a Northern Harrier, and a lone Wood Stork wandering overhead, going who knows where. At around this time, the sparrows began to awaken and start calling and foraging. Savannah Sparrow was by far the most numerous species, but we also managed to locate several Swamp Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow along with a single Clay-colored Sparrow -- a great day for sparrows in Miami-Dade, Florida!

At around 9:00AM, after our success at the sparrow fields, we headed over to the Chekika Unit of Everglades National Park. Soon after starting our walk, we located our first feeding flock which included an uncommon, wintering Least Flycatcher, along with Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Palm Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler. Birding along the edge of the picnic area, we encountered several more feeding flocks, one of which included a Great Crested Flycatcher. We ended our day with a brief search through the vultures and raptors riding the thermals, adding Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk (dark morph), and a beautiful Snail Kite for our day's effort.

77) Barn Owl
78) Northern Harrier
79) Swamp Sparrow
80) Lincoln's Sparrow
81) Savannah Sparrow
82) Clay-colored Sparrow
83) Grasshopper Sparrow
84) House Wren
85) White-crowned Sparrow
86) Northern Cardinal
87) Least Flycatcher
88) Great Crested Flycatcher
89) Snail Kite

Carlos

csanchez7
Saturday 7th January 2012, 22:11
Today, I decided to make an impromptu visit to the coast and Key Biscayne (a barrier island just off the coast, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges) to crack a hundred species for the year. My first stop was at the Crandon Marina, where I found the charter fishing boat kiosk unexpectedly demolished -- once a very reliable and easy location for a quick Black-crowned Night-Heron. A scan of the horizon off the marina failed to produce any Magnificent Frigatebirds, but I did add the very common Laughing Gull and Brown Pelican to my year list. A small feeding flock was working the dogwood trees in the picnic area, and I was quickly drawn towards them -- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Prairie Warbler, and Yellow-throated Warbler were amongst the more usual species.

Onwards to Crandon Beach, I bumped into a local birder and together we surveyed the waterfront for shorebirds while dodging joggers, children having a professional photo shoot, and other random people who kept flushing the birds. This particular beach has the largest wintering population of Piping Plovers on the east coast of the US south of South Carolina -- it a miracle they return to this busy place every year. Shorebirds present included Sanderling (140), Dunlin (8), Least Sandpiper (5), Black-bellied Plover (3), Wilson's Plover (3), Piping Plover (34), and Semipalmated Plover (130). Amongst the mixed gull and tern flock, Royal Tern, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (6), and Herring Gull were all present. I bade my farewells to my fellow birder and continued towards Bill Baggs State Park.

At Bill Baggs State Park, I casually made my way towards the beach, passing by a couple small feeding flocks that included Black-and-white Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Palm Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. The Great Cormorant that was found last month was sitting on his rock right by the lighthouse, a county tick for me (#295 for Miami-Dade). A surprise Piping Plover was on the beach and a Common Loon was hunting for fish not too far off on the water, as well. Heading back towards the nature trail, I bumped into several birders looking for the La Sagra's Flycatcher, none of which were successful. With the heat picking up and the passerine activity dismally low, I decided to finish my birding for the day at this point.

90) Brown Pelican
91) Laughing Gull
92) Sanderling
93) Piping Plover
94) Semipalmated Plover
95) Wilson's Plover
96) Dunlin
97) Ruddy Turnstone
98) Herring Gull
99) Royal Tern
100) Black-bellied Plover
101) Lesser Black-backed Gull
102) Common Loon
103) Great Cormorant

csanchez7
Sunday 8th January 2012, 18:02
I met up with a couple fellow birders at 6:30AM at the sparrow fields just outside of the Chekika entrance to Everglades National Park. The morning started off with no Barn Owls, which were replaced, bizarrely enough, by several Black Vultures flying in the dim morning light. The thermometer here read 48F compared to the relatively balmy 58F at home -- a ten degree difference only 20 minutes away driving distance. Raptors were ubiquitous and abundant today: White-tailed Kite (2), Northern Harrier (10), Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, and Merlin were all present. In contrast, I only had four species of sparrow today in contrast to the six I had two mornings ago. A few Tree Swallows were flitting about overhead and a Common Ground-Dove zipped by on our way out. This location is always worth several visits in the "winter."

104) Red-tailed Hawk
105) Cooper's Hawk
106) Merlin
107) Tree Swallow
108) Common Ground-Dove

Carlos

csanchez7
Thursday 12th January 2012, 01:47
On January 10th while doing errands, I noticed that there were half a dozen diving ducks in a man-made pond in the Kendale Lakes area of Miami. Upon closer inspection, these turned out to be Ring-necked Ducks, a new species for the year.

109) Ring-necked Duck

On January 11th, I decided to bird Matheson Hammock early in the morning. This coastal tropical hardwood hammock and mangrove system is the oldest county park in Miami-Dade county. I also believe it is the most beautiful tropical hardwood hammock in the state. I started off in the picnic area where I found the Western Tanager in December. I quickly ran across a large feeding flock that included Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, and a lovely Black-throated Green Warbler. Northern Cardinals were already singing, heralding the arrival of "spring" to the area, while the loud ringing calls of a large flock of Common Hill Myna echoed throughout the park. Yellow-chevroned Parakeets regularly rocketed overhead, commuting back and forth over the mature patch of forest. On the snags of a dead tree, three White-crowned Pigeons were perched right out in the open. I crossed the road and birded the western half of the park.

A service road and a system of narrow trails crisscrosses the tropical hardwood hammock here, which opens up to an expanse of tall exotic grasses, Royal Palms, Poincianas, native pines, and patches of live oak. A pair of Blue-and-yellow Macaws were flying in the distance, announcing their passage with their loud, raucous calls. A Pileated Woodpecker was busily working on a nesting cavity in a wooden telephone pole and both Mourning and White-winged Doves were perched quietly on the wires. Other than the abundance of exotic Hill Mynas, there weren't very many passerines in this portion of the park so I returned back towards the east side and began the long walk to the coastal section of the park.

Reaching the coast, I immediately saw typical coastal species such as Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, and Laughing Gull. Shorebirds were sparse today with only small flocks of Least Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone present. A Pied-billed Grebe looked woefully out of place, bobbing about in the choppy surf while a Belted Kingfisher kept a careful watch for fish from atop of an American flag standing about 50 feet from the shoreline. The mangroves lining the marina had a very cooperative Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, plus a small feeding flock of warblers that included Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler (these love wintering in mangroves), Prairie Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. After searching through the large flock of gulls and terns and finding nothing out of the ordinary, I decided to make my way back. Always a pleasure birding this park, which makes me feel I'm not in the Nearctic at all.

110) Black-throated Green Warbler
111) Downy Woodpecker
112) White-winged Dove
113) Pileated Woodpecker
114) Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Carlos

csanchez7
Monday 6th February 2012, 00:41
On 12 January 2012, I passed by Kendall-Tamiami Airport while doing errands and decided to go in and take a look for Burrowing Owls. On the first set of cones on the right as one enters, there were three Burrowing Owls standing guard.

115) Burrowing Owl

On 13 January 2012, I went to Castellow Hammock Park in the agricultural Redlands area of Miami-Dade county in search of Rufous Hummingbird. It was a slow start in the parking lot, seeing only a few Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a single White-eyed Vireo, so I decided to walk the hammock trail just to poke around.

This is a very mature segment of tropical hardwood hammock, and the winding trail cuts through a lot of mostly primary habitat. As usual with this sort of habitat, birding was extremely unproductive until I reached an area with a tree fall. A pair of White-eyed Vireos were in view and in full song, heralding the early arrival of spring to the faux-tropics. Continuing onward towards the exit, I heard the distinctive insect-like chip note of what seemed to be a Worm-eating Warbler (a rare winter resident in the southern tip of Florida) -- or could it be a Black-and-white Warbler doing its similar sounding chip note? After some maneuvering and careful pishing, the small feeding flock that came into view included both Worm-eating Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler, as well as a single Prairie Warbler. Works for me!

A second attempt for the Rufous Hummingbird back out in the parking lot was successful, with the bird giving itself away with its lower pitched calls as it came in for a landing at the top of an introduced orchid tree.

116) Common Grackle
117) Worm-eating Warbler
118) Rufous Hummingbird

Carlos