Friday, March 25, 2011

Florida Birding

I just returned from spending several days in south Florida. It felt good to soak up some 80+ degree weather after all the cold and snow we had to endure in the northeast this past winter. While we mostly went to visit with family, I made sure to leave time for some birdwatching. South Florida is very rich in birds and other wildlife, so it would be impossible for me not to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

We flew into Miami early in the morning and picked up a rental car for a drive across "Alligator Alley". Opting for the slower, more scenic route, we headed west along the Tamiami Trail towards Ft. Myers. Our first stop would be Everglades National Park at Shark Valley. Shark Valley has a paved loop road the travels south into the everglades to an observation tower. There are bike rentals and guided tram tours, but I prefer to walk. I'd been to Shark Valley before and there is always a great variety of birds to see, as well as, lots and lots of gators. This little fella in the video below was standing in the middle of the road, but eventually permitted us passage (after we "answered these questions three").



We were staying with family in Fort Myers which isn't too far from Sanibel Island, home of J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Ding Darling is one of my favorite NWRs. In addition to several hiking trails, the refuge features a wildlife drive that travels through subtropical habitat where one can see an amazing abundance of bird life. Among the wide range of wading birds seen is the Reddish Egret. This bird is known for its unusual method of fishing. Check out this video I shot from the edge of the road:



One other location that we visited was a state park called Fakahatchee Strand. Unlike the other parks where I observed primarily wadding and other water birds, this forested habitat was loaded with songbirds. Among the birds at this location were Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler and Northern Cardinal (didn't realize cardinals were southern birds). I wonder if I'll encounter any of the warblers on migration as they pass through Brooklyn.


Here's my bird list for the Florida trip:

Date: 3/18/11 - 3/24/11
Locations: Bowmans Beach Regional Park, Everglades National Park--Shark Valley, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve--Big Cypress Bend, J.N. 'Ding' Darling NWR-Wildlife Drive
Total Species: 59

American Black Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Wood Stork
Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Swallow-tailed Kite
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Willet
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Least Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Herring Gull
Royal Tern
Black Skimmer
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Great Crested Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Fish Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray Catbird
Northern Parula
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Northern Cardinal
Boat-tailed Grackle

1 comment:

larryz said...

Rob:
Next time you're down there, try Harnes Marsh North (a little east of Ft Myers) for Limpkin and Snail Kite. Also, an amazing amount of vultures, both Black and Turkey. One time we were there we had to walk through a mixed flock of about 100.

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