09 January 2009

Miami CBC

Due to my travel and work schedule I could only participant in one Christmas Bird Count this year. So once again on a balmy December morning I found myself in Miami-Dade County. This year I was assigned to the Virginia Key segment which is lead by one of my favorite birders in South Florida, Robin Diaz. She emailed us a schedule that looked something like a military maneuver outline. The day was bound to be interesting.

We started the morning off counting gulls, cormorants, and scanning for loons and random sea birds. My assignment was gulls and I was joined by Jim Kushlan for this task. We had mostly Laughing Gulls but we did manage to squeeze out 4 Lesser Black-backed Gulls out of the mix.

After leaving Hobie Beach we split up into different teams to bird the Rickenbacker Causeway. This would be my weirdest CBC encounter thus far that isn't completely bird related. While Bill Boeringer, my count partner, and I counted under the Powell Bridge we discovered a recent Santeria offering. Check out the pictures below.

That's the little make-shift shrine above and if you needed a closer look at that Black Vulture check out the goat's head that is being picked over below. The whole goat's body was closer to the rocks and being swamped by about 20 other vultures. I've heard of these sacrificies before but this was my first time actually seeing one in person and on my Miami CBC nonetheless.

Last year my count team ended our day at Parrot Jungle and this year would continue the streak of ending the day at some type of amusement park area. In our count area the Miami Seaquarium lives. So inside we split up and went to find our target birds. Some people had House Sparrows, others had doves, but my assignment was to go to Flipper's Lagoon and find the night herons. My count partner Carlos and I succeeded with our Yellow-crowned Night Heron, a few Brown Pelicans, and some gulls. On our way back out to the parking area we took a stop to admire the captured birds like the flamingo below. Two Miami CBCs under my belt and both years I'm looking at caged flamingoes at the end of the day. It's kinda weird but you never know what Miami has in store for you.

With a little daylight left and some time to kill before the count dinner I headed to Bill Baggs State Park to catch a few more birds. The best birds of the state park were a Prairie Warbler and a female American Redstart. So that's where my Miami CBC count day would end, staring out at Stiltsville and watching the boats skim over the calm bay.

It was a wonderful CBC and my group tallied 79 species plus Northern Waterthrush for Count Week. While at the Sadowski Preserve area we found a Seaside Sparrow. This is the first one for the Miami count during its 40-year history. The highlights for me had to be the raptors we had: 13 Osprey, 2 Broad-winged Hawks, 6 Red-shouldered Hawks, 2 Cooper's Hawks, 14 American Kestral, 2 Merlin, and 2 Peregrine Falcon. I was really disappointed that we didn't get the Great Black Hawk that lives on Virginia Key but you have to leave something for next time. I did finally see my first feral Egyptian Goose, actually I saw a few flocks of them fly over. This is a bird that is becoming more common in South Florida and one I have to ID regularly at Green Cay when people bring in pictures from their golf course houses. I hope the CBC season treated all of you well. And next year I'm sure I'll have new stories of downtown Miami bird counting.

1 comment:

dAwN said...

Sounds like a wonderful CBC day..
I tried to get into your sunday birding breakfast but you are full..bummer..We are on a waiting list...
We are here one more week and will come visit your Green Cay before we leave.