20 November 2011

Everglades Birding/Camping

November is the month when cool weather finally reaches South Florida.  Andy, Rosana, Emily, Charlie, and I packed up and got ready for our first camping trip of the Fall.  We were prepared and stoked but maybe we didn't realize that even though the weather is nice, the mosquitoes would be out in full force.  Regardless we survived the first night and woke up the next morning to a nice relaxing temperature.  We first headed out to Lucky Hammock and the Annex.  The wind was blowing a little but not enough for the quiet hammocks.  It was strange how little bird activity we found.  Emily did see her lifer Eastern Phoebe and we saw a multitude of Kestrels. 
Next we headed to Anhinga trail.  I couldn't believe how high the water levels were but it resulted in little bird activity or alligators in sight.  We did see a few waders but missed on the Purple Gallinule.

A quick walk through the hammock trail only yielded us a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  It was a slow morning but it felt good to be outside and hiking around.
At the Gate 15 mound we had a flock of Blue-winged Teal, a young Bald Eagle, and more waders.  It was a beautiful bright blue day but low on birds.  By this time we were starving and headed back towards Long Pine Key.

Charlie, our every faithful mutt seemed very content in the car and taking short walks at our breaks.  I couldn't believe how well behaved she was while we were gone.  I am sure she took a few naps.
After lunch we headed towards Flamingo.  At Mrazik Pond we had some excitement with a Redhead and a Gadwall mixed in with the teal and coots.

Once at Flamingo we were exhausted so we took a nap near the marina and watched the thousands of Turkey Vultures stream out across the Florida Bay.  It was entertaining and a much needed rest.  Near the amphitheater we found a Western Kingbird on one of the camp grills. 
Down by the shoreline Emily had her lifer American Avocets.  These little dainty birds always delight me.  I love that upturned bill and slender features.  Mixed in were some Willet and a few peeps.

We ended our day with another night camping.  I can't say it was the most pleasant due to all the mosquito/ant bites but for the first camping trip of the season, I thought it was successful.  Many thanks to Andy and Rosana who outdid themselves and brought the BEST camping food EVAH.  Thanks guys!

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