15 February 2013

Miami-Dade Big Day

Andy and I completed a Miami-Dade County Big Day on Monday, February 4, 2013.  It's taken me a minute to upload the photos and compile the list but we ended the day with a 108 total species.  I hope to give you a little insight to our day in this post.

We started the day off at daybreak at the Annex, a local birding spot outside of Everglades National Park.  The first bird of the day was a calling Killdeer.  Actually, we heard a rooster crowing but that doesn't count.  A Barred Owl called later, in the distance, and we were off to a good start.  Highlights included a close-by flyover of a group of White Pelicans, 3 Sandhill Cranes, a calling Sora, and a Least Flycatcher.

We moved on to Lucky Hammock where we found a calling Brown-crested Flycatcher and a Great-crested Flycatcher together.  We watched the two flycatchers and made ID comparisons.  At the corner of Aerojet Road we dipped on the Ash-throated Flycatcher but we did find an Eastern Meadowlark perched.  An international birder joined us and we IDed the meadowlark for him an a nearby kestrel.

We headed into Everglades National Park and got lucky at the Long Pine Campground area.  The Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Merlin, and Pine Warblers all made appearances.  Off we went to Anhinga trail where we struck out on Purple Gallinule but did see 32 sun-bathing Alligators.

Next up we headed to the C-111 Canal to check for flycatchers.  We got both Western and Tropical Kingbirds between Aerojet and the canal.  It was easy to spot the differences with the two kingbirds on the same wire.  At the C-111 we found the Vermillion Flycatcher easily on the wire.  After snapping a photo we headed towards Cutler Bay.

We checked out Cutler Wetlands where we found 3 American Avocets.  Then we walked out to Dump Marsh where we again had White Pelicans but we also had 3 Red-breasted Mergansers which were a nice addition to our small duck list. 

After Cutler, we headed to Matheson Park where we found a nice flock of warblers but dipped on a few species in the back dog park area.  At least we picked up the Red-headed Woodpecker and headed to across town to Joe Barros house where we didn't find the Warbling Vireo but did find a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  At A.D. Barnes we found a Hermit Thrush and a Black-throated Blue Warbler.  The only thing left was to head to Crandon and pick up our shorebirds.

At Crandon we found a few terns and gulls but the shorebirds were non-existent.  We must have checked that whole park, walking for over an hour on the beach.  All that work and we only came up with some Sanderlings.  It was a major set-back to our day.  Luckily, we picked up Ruddy Turnstones on the Hobie Beach on the way out and headed back to South Miami to end our day.  We found a few more common species along the way and watched the exotic parrots and parakeets roosting at sunset.  

It was a great day spent birding with one of my best friends.  We missed a few birds but we beat our previous record of 104, which is all that we really wanted.  Even with the missing shorebirds, I couldn't have asked for a better birding day.  The weather was perfect, the birds were cooperative, and the company couldn't have been better.  I can't wait for the next Big Day that Andy Lantz and I complete!

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