28 December 2008

Top Ten Lifers of 2008: Number 4

After yesterday's large list of raptors I'm going to switch gears and name the Mangrove Cuckoo as my Number 4 bird of 2008.

Mangrove trail where I spotted my first Mangrove Cuckoo.
On my first solo camping experience in my life I decided to head down to the Florida Keys. Along the way I had two main target birds, Black-whiskered Vireo and Mangrove Cuckoo. Black-whiskered Vireos are found throughout South Florida and a week later I would even have one on my bird count at Green Cay. The Mangrove Cuckoo was really my grail bird for the weekend.

Florida State Parks don't open until 8AM, something I didn't know before this trip. So as I drove down the Keys I kept wanting to stop a various parks but it was too early. Finally 8AM arrived and I found myself at the Long Key State Park where I immediately picked up my lifer Black-whiskered Vireo. Riding on the high of one bird I took nice loop trail through the park. Within 20 minutes I was staring down my first Mangrove Cuckoo. I had two solid looks at it and the trip was done. I walked away elated but wishing for a longer view.
A few months later I returned to Long Key State Park with Andy and Kim to re-locate the bird. We were succesful and found the bird in about the same location. This time the bird held still for a little bit longer and we even had time to consult the field book to nail the ID 100 percent. Every trip to the Florida Keys is spectacular but picking up some new birds made these trips even better.

Andy and I celebrating our lifers of the day, he got the Mangrove Cuckoo and we both picked up a Roseate Tern.

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