Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fron the Atlantic to the Gulf

After a quick trip back to Port St. Lucie on Easter to pick up forwarded mail at Daryl & Vicki's. we spent two days at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. On the way south we found a nesting colony of Monk Parakeets.  We were alerted to their presence by their loud, continuous chattering.

At the park we walked the trails mainly for this beautiful Florida Scrub Jay - notice all the bling on this one.  Then we added the Bachman's Sparrow, several singing in the Pine/Saw- Palmetto habitat.   Also seeing the rare for Florida Red-headed Woodpecker.

We zigzagged across the North Everglades and Big Cypress Preserve finding several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and  Swallow-tailed Kites.

 We settled into a nice RV park on Chokoloskee Island south of Everglades City on the SW gulf coast of Florida.  This abundant gecko is only found on this island according to the locals.  Added a life bird here too - The Shiny Cowbird. Also found Summer Tanager, Painted Buntings plus Gray, Western and Eastern Kingbirds.

From our base here we drove up to explore the Big Cypress Swamp, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve.  Hatching in large numbers were these large colorful Lubber Grasshoppers.

These areas also produced large numbers of wading birds such as these Black-necked Stilts.  There were Reddish, Snowy, and Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Tri-colored, Little Blue, Green and Great Blue Herons feeding in the ponds.  Also spotted a few more Manatees.

Next stop was a few days at Collier-Seminole State Park.  Birding highlights on our own campsite were this Red-Shouldered Hawk, a Worm-eating Warbler, a number of Black-Whiskered Vireos, Orchard Orioles and during the night, several Barred Owls serenaded us.

At least three pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers were near the campground, always fun to hear and see.

Daily walks on the Royal Palm Trail yielded a Yellow-breasted Chat, and a fleeting glimpse of the secretive Mangrove Cuckoo - one of our target birds.

As we bid farewell to this area, we made a short stop at Marco Island.  We were blessed with two sightings of Antillean Nighthawks - a life bird; great looks at Least Terns and these very cute Burrowing Owls tucked in the shadow of condos on "postage-stamp" lots.

Heading north along the gulf!
Blessings to all!
Love, Ty & Ida

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