Monday, March 11, 2013

Everglades National Park

Our first target bird heading south from Port St. Lucie on March 1st was the Burrowing Owl; this bird posed for us on the burrow in the open park between the ball fields and the playground of Brian Piccolo Park near Pembroke Pines.

After a couple days near Kendall/Miami looking for some specialties, we found Red-masked, Mitred and Monk Parakeets at the Baptist Hospital in Kendall.

On to the Everglades National Park - after a stop at the Visitors Center we went to walk the Anhinga Trail.  This welcoming committee of hundreds of Black Vultures greeted us at the parking lot.  Note photo of park provided coverings for vehicles as the vultures have severely damaged wipers and rubber gaskets.

Of course Anhinga Trail would not be complete without its name sake.  There were many nests with noisy, food-begging chicks as pictured here.

Dozens of alligators have taken up residence in this fresh-water "gator hole" along with herons, egrets, bittern, and a very secretive Purple Gallinule.

Along the road to Flamingo we observed a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites.  One of which landed in a dead snag over our RV.  We later saw them carrying nesting material and putting on quite an aerial show.

Several visits to Paurotis Pond providd the view of a very large Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill Rookery.  The birds were moving in and out  with nesting material and food continually .

One of our highlights was a surprisingly large number of salt water preferring American Crocodiles like our tooth grinner in the photo. Some we found later exceeded 13 feet in length.

We camped at Flamingo for 4 days, from this home base each day we explored nearby habitats: Eco-Pond - where we found this beautiful Painted Bunting;   Snake Bight Trail to the Florida Bay with hundreds of shorebirds and waders, plus a Black-whiskered Vireo; Bear Lake area where we found several White-crowned Pigeons;  and Mahogany Hammock where the best find was birders from Green Bay - Tom & Denise Mooren.  We also had a Barn Owl two nights, one near the Visitors Center and also right next to our campsite.

We moved north to Long Pine Key campground for 2 nights where we visited the Gumbo-Limbo Trail, re-walked the Anhinga Trail. and took the tour of the Nike Missile Base and enjoyed cold war history with Ranger Leon.

A birding trip would not be be complete without a stop at the Florida City Burger King to see the Common Mynas.  We also added a dark-morph Short-tailed Hawk over Homestead only a few miles from the Miami/Everglades RV park where we are preparing for the next leg of our journey.  Tomorrow we head to the Florida Keys until Easter.

Our best to all!
Ty & Ida Baumann