08 September 2010

Cuban Pewee Day

By now you have heard the news of the Cuban Pewee found by Larry Manfredi in Everglades National Park but I thought I would give you a description of my search for this bird and how many other lifers trickled in that day. (If you would like more information about the bird or its location please see the Tropical Audubon birdboard in my links.)

My very sad digibinning attempt but it shows the pewee perched near the road.

Andy and I started our day in South Miami at 5:30am. We made a quick breakfast and headed to Long Pine Key. The pewee was found only 2 days earlier near the campground. We decided that we would be there at first light and listen for the distinct call. It had rained most of the night so we figured our chances were good that the bird was holding in the same location.

Around 7am we heard what we thought was the call and ran out to the raod. We had been walking down the nature trail nearby. We saw a dark silhouette of a flycatcher in the distance. We figured this was our bird but it was too dark and the sun wasn't up enough to give us any details. We really wanted to see the eye crescent mark. We watched the bird flycatch for a few seconds and then it disappeared into the pines.

At 8:20am we heard the pewee again call towards the small house down the road so we walked in that direction. A flycatcher took off over our heads and landed briefly on a tree near my parked car. A local birder positively identified it but the bird took flight down the nature trail. We followed but only some people got looks in the dense canopy.

At this point there were maybe a little over a dozen birders at the scene. We chased the pewee down the trail a second time but it somehow eluded most of the group. Then the signal came that the bird was back by the roadway. At 9:15am the whole group of us were able to get looks of this Cuban stray only feet away from the side of the road.

Since I am not a photographer I thought I would share a couple of photos of this great find. Both photos above were taken by Danny Bales. He was with the group of us searching for the Cuban Pewee that day from daybreak.

After soaking in our lifer Cuban Pewee we decided to continue back to South Miami with a few birding stops in between. First we stopped at The Annex where we picked up Cape May Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, and dozens of Eastern Kingbirds. A nice size flock of Bobolinks also graced us overhead, which added my second lifer of the day to the trip.

Next we headed to the 217th road to scope the fields for shorebirds. We immediately found 4 Buff-breasted Sanpipers foraging very close to the road. Lifer number 3 on the day! These photos were taken through a scope but they give you an idea of how nice the looks were provided for us.

We decided to keep searching around the Ag. fields and came up with many Killdeer, a few Pectoral Sandpipers, and hundreds of Barn Swallows. We were almost done with our shorebirding when a lone Upland Sandpiper drew our attention. We were in our car and only a few feet away so the look was amazing but the sandpiper took to flight and we weren't able to relocate it, probably due to a nearby Cooper's Hawk. Satisfied with our looks we decided to head back to the city.

After tallying our days efforts we realized that we had quite a few birds so we decided to up our numbers and stop by Cutler Wetlands. There we were able to pick up a few more shorebirds and waders. We ended the day with 72 birds at 1pm. With a little effort this easily could have been a 100 species day but we were both very satisfied with our Cuban Pewee and our other great finds that we decided to call it an end.

Many dowitchers, yellowlegs, and stilts were at Cutler Wetland when we arrived.


Angel & Mariel said...

Awesome Eva! Great post, we really enjoyed reading about your adventure to our neck of the woods.
We saw the bird on Monday during the afternoon. We got lucky as the bird perched only 15 yrds. from us. Incredible looks and time spent studying only the third CUPE to be documented in N. America.

Nature is Awesome
Angel & Mariel

Pat ODonnell said...

What an awesome day of birding! Congrats on the 3 lifers and especially the Cuban Pewee!

Jan Axel & Gloriela said...

Congratulations for all your lifers!

Larry said...

What a day Eva! 72 species and three lifers! I would be ecstatic!

I really enjoyed your trip and would love to see a Cuban Pewee. Aren't spring and fall wonderful times of the year for birders? I always look forward to the seasonal migrations to find new birds in my own backyard!

Anonymous said...

how wonderful to experience such a wonderful bird day!