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Key Deer NWR, Ding Darling NWR

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Old Saturday 6th June 2020, 13:16   #1
Mister_Stookee
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Key Deer NWR, Ding Darling NWR

I visited the Florida Keys on Monday and Tuesday of this week and Sanibel on Wednesday.

I got up at dawn and drove all over Big Pine Key. Visited the Blue Hole and saw a white-crowned pigeon, but beyond that, the only bird sounds I heard were common grackles. I took Watson Blvd out to No Name Key and the landscape sounded devoid of birds other than redwing blackbirds and northern cardinals. Later on, I visited Blue Hole again and discovered a nesting Green Heron, and then I tried the Watson and Manillo trails up the street, and again, it was just quiet. Saw mostly black vultures.

I left the lower Keys feeling underwhelmed and disappointed and stopped at Crane Point on Marathon but that was even worse. Saw two green iguanas. Heard no birds anywhere except, again, RWBBs.

Ding Darling was very low activity except for Yellow Crown Night Herons. Hardly anything along the wildlife drive. Nothing to be seen from the big observation tower. I was getting desperate, so I put on a rain jacket and a mosquito headnet and I took two laps around the Calusa Mound trail. I found a noisy group of about a half dozen Great Crested Flycatchers. I visited the Bailey tract and saw a single pair Black Neck Stilts. I went back to Ding later on and visited the Indigo trail and saw several Yellow Crown Night Heron nests with nestlings, but then it started storming.

Is June the wrong time of year to go looking for birds in South Florida? I drove all the way from Tallahassee, and I kept having the feeling that there is more and louder passerine bird activity in my apartment complex's parking lot and at the local city park where i go jogging. I was expecting an explosion of different species and huge numbers. I came home feeling like I should've driven someplace north instead of south. I also wondered if I was suffering the effects of having no Rangers and other interpretive staff [because of the pandemic] to guide me along and tell me what to watch for. Really wanted to go to Corkscrew, but it's still closed.
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Old Saturday 6th June 2020, 16:29   #2
etudiant
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Welcome to BF, Mister_Stookee!
Sorry to hear that you had a disappointing trip. Please keep the faith, there are better times ahead.
June is tough everywhere other than in the farther north.
Migration is over and the resident locals are busy raising their young, so everything is quiet.
Do agree that this is when local staff is most helpful, because they can direct visitors to the most promising vantage points. Because of CoViD, that is not happening this year.
Maybe there is more to see along the shore and out to sea?

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Old Saturday 6th June 2020, 20:58   #3
Mister_Stookee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Welcome to BF, Mister_Stookee!
Sorry to hear that you had a disappointing trip. Please keep the faith, there are better times ahead.
June is tough everywhere other than in the farther north.
Migration is over and the resident locals are busy raising their young, so everything is quiet.
Do agree that this is when local staff is most helpful, because they can direct visitors to the most promising vantage points. Because of CoViD, that is not happening this year.
Maybe there is more to see along the shore and out to sea?
thanks, yes! i was really enamored with all the frigatebirds...

birdsong nature center in south georgia is going to be open soon, i'll probably travel there next.
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Old Sunday 7th June 2020, 18:26   #4
lgonz1008
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Hi Mister_Stookee,

Sorry you had that experience for birding in South Florida, unfortunately it is like that for most of the summer with the only big targets being Caribbean specialties like Gray Kingbird, White-crowned Pigeon and Black-whiskered Vireo. Most of the resident wading birds have spread out due to the rains and songbirds are almost non-existent until Fall migration. If you had gone to the Miami area you probably could have gotten many of the parakeets, macaws, bulbuls and other exotic birds that live in the city, but not sure if those were of interest to you.

I know the Everglades is open, and while the species number is barely around 40-50 birds in a day with a lot of trying, we've had good birds recently close to the front half of the park with 2 Black-faced Grassquits in the Visitor Center and Long Pine Key, and also 3-4 White-rumped Sandpipers and 1 Reddish Egret in the new land that was stripped bare of non-native plants.

Best advice I can give, it to come down here from late September to late April next time, and give places like Big Cypress, Tigertail Beach and Crandon Park/Bill Baggs when you do come. The bird variety will be higher and more concentrated, though in the first 2 places I listed, you can still get great birds like Burrowing Owl and Prothonotary Warbler in this time of the year.
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Old Monday 29th June 2020, 12:34   #5
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Yes Florida birding in July and August is not very good if you are looking for a large number of species. Late Sept-April will yield many more species. That being said, for places like Ding Darling... you need to time your visit to low tide for a much better chance to see any waders. We have been there in August and had quite a few species during low tide... but once the tide comes in, they move on.
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