Birding South Florida - March 2001 - Daily Log
12.3.2001 (Arrival, Moore Haven) - 13.3.
(Venus area, Immokalee, Corkscrew Swamps) - 14.3. (CR
846 near Corkscrew, Bunche Beach, Sanibel Island) - 15.3.
(Tamiami Trail, Briggs Nature Center, Big Cypress, Everglades City, Homestead)
- 16.3. (Homestead, Everglades National Park) - 17.3.
(Everglades National Park, The Keys, Key West) - 18.3.
(Garden Key on Dry Tortugas) - 19.3.2001 (Card Sound Bridge,
Key Largo, Everglades, Departure)
After my arrival at Miami International Airport in the evening, I picked
up my rental car and drove on the US-27 towards Moore Haven at Lake Okeechobee,
where I spent the night in a Motel.
started very early in the morning (about 6 am) and was at sunrise
at Flatwoods Preserve west of Venus. (US-27 northwards, CR-731 west
at Venus for ca. 3.3 miles, turn right and after less than 1 mile left
into Sheppard Rd). I found no Red-cockaded Woodpecker, but Pileated Woodpecker,
Eastern Bluebird, a late Am. Robin etc..
After that I drove to the junction US-27/SR-70 (GPS: N 27°12'33.5'',
W 81°19'45.0'') where I met Mark Adams. Waiting produced White-winged
Doves, Eastern Towhee and some Tree Swallows. Together we followed SR-70
west for a mile before turning left towards Archbold Biological Station
where we walked the trail. The area produced little besides a Wood Stork
perched on a tree. Going further south on the road along Archbold we easily
found some Florida Scrub Jays on the wires and later on a Bald Eagle. Another
visit to Flatwoods Preserve showed me a flock of Northern Bobwhite.
Then we headed southwards on CR-731 watching several Swallow-tailed
Kites, many Vultures, some Hawks and 2 Crested Caracaras north of La
Belle. Since it was very dry and we already had the Caracaras we did
not make the recommended loop CR-832, CR-833, CR-846, but went directly
on SR-29 to Immokalee. From there we drove on CR-846 to the Audubon
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and did the Boardwalk. We had some Egrets
and Herons aswell as the first Alligators with much more to come, but the
best bird was probably a light morph Short-tailed Hawk soaring over the
Today I went birding with Vince Lucas from Naples. First we went on
CR-846 towards Corkscrew. Just after the turn-off to CR-858 is an Agricultural
Research Center on the right hand side of the CR-846 with a Purple
Martin colony in lots of different nest boxes (GPS: N 188.8.131.52, W 184.108.40.206).
Staying on that CR-846 about 4 miles east of Corkscrew we watched at least
4 Burrowing Owls along a small road leading southwards from CR-846
(N 220.127.116.11, W 18.104.22.168) Also along this small road were Common Ground
Dove and Brown-headed Cowbird.
Afterwards we headed back and went north on US-75 till the exit 20,
west to US-41, on US-41 north till turning off left on SR-865 and after
about 1.5 miles left again towards Sanibel Island on SR-869. After 5.4
miles on SR-869 is a Circle K petrol station (before the bridge to Sanibel!)
where we turned left to Bunche Beach (N 22.214.171.124, W 81.58.05.1).
The beach is extremely good for shorebirds at low tide. Besides many plovers
and sandpipers we also found a Prairie Warbler, Reddish Egret, Marbled
Godwit and 1 Long-billed Curlew. The area is good for terns and gulls.
Be prepared to walk through more or less shallow water for birdwatching!
left at Circle K brought us directly to Sanibel Island. Along the
road/bridge to the island was a first winter Great Black-backed Gull aswell
as more shorebirds and gulls. Following the main road we came to the famous
N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. After having a look at
a Raccoon sitting in a tree near the visitor center we followed the "wildlife
drive" (5 miles). Although it was obviously very dry we found some American
White Pelicans, shorebirds and wading birds. After that we made an attempt
to find Lesser Scaup near Ft. Myers, but without success, it was probably
too windy at the places we looked for them.
This morning I started again together with Vince Lucas. First we went
north on CR-846 and turned then right into CR-858 till there is
a fruit farm on the right hand side (after about 10 miles) behind a ditch,
some trees and a fence. Vince saw here previously Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
but we found nearly nothing. Nevertheless along the CR-858 we had 2 Crested
Caracara, a flock of Cedar Waxwings and I saw something crossing the street
which might have been a giant River Otter (N 126.96.36.199, W 188.8.131.52).
having a look at a partial albinotic House Sparrow in Naples we headed
southwards on US-41 (Tamiami Trail). About one mile north of the intersection
of SR-951 and US-41 we stopped at Eagle Lakes Park (N 26.04.36.7,
W 184.108.40.206; parking lot on the northern side of US-41). The area was
full of wading birds, some Mottled Ducks and Blue-winged Teals aswell as
2 Bald Eagles.
We went south on SR-951 and drove to the Briggs Nature Center
(2.5 miles, then right) to find some of the (here) introduced Florida Scrub
Jays, a White-crowned Sparrow, a beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler and
a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. All around the visitor center without entering
Next stop was at the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, there were
some warblers reported but the best bird for me was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
Some miles further south on the US-41 we went on the SR-29 southwards
to Everglades City and Chokoloskee. Birding from the roads produced
some Skimmers, shorebirds and wading birds. At the parking lot of the Smallwood
Store in Chokoloskee Vince showed me a Great Horned Owls nest with
two young in it (N 220.127.116.11, W 18.104.22.168). Out in the 10,000 Islands
NWR were American White and Brown Pelicans on a small sand bar visible
from the Smallwood Store.
Back on US-41 the next stop was about 0.5 miles before Everglades Tower/Shark
Valley at an abandoned Air Boat Ride (N 22.214.171.124, W 126.96.36.199).
We easily found several Snail Kites and 2 Limpkins. From this place Vince
headed back towards Naples. On the way to the intersection US-41 and SR-997
I saw Caspian Tern and headed then south on SR-997 towards Homestead. Coming
closer to Homestead I took SW 216th Street eastwards. On the wires
along this street were White-winged Doves and Monk Parakeets. Following
the street further east I passed under the overpass of the Florida Turnpike,
just after which I turned immediately left and stopped nearby. I was there
at about 5.30 pm and easily found some Cave Swallows coming to the bridge
over the canal.
After leaving the Greenstone Motel in Homestead which is on SW 177
Krome Avenue and has affordable prices, I went southbound on SW 177. Before
coming to the intersection with SR-9336 I found some Common Mynahs right
by the road. Turning right onto SR-9336 brings you towards Everglades National
Park (signposted). Following the signs I only stopped to turn right into
SW 209th Ave., then left and again left on SW 212th Ave. which brings you
back to SR-9336. Along SW 212th Ave. I easily found 5 Western Kingbirds
and a marvelous male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the wires and in the
gardens (N 188.8.131.52, W 80.32.00.9).
I went straight to the Everglades National Park. Since the Coe Visitor
Center was still closed (open 8 am to 5 pm) I went directly into the park
to Gumbo Limbo Trail (nothing around) and the adjacent
Trail. The latter is extremely good for watching birds closeby and
taking pictures. Besides lots of Anhingas there were also Purple Gallinules
and a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. Going towards Flamingo some stops along
the road produced little. At the parking lot to Mahagony Hammock
was an early Gray Kingbird, Paurotis Pond showed no Roseate Spoonbills
which are supposed to breed there, the other ponds along the road like
Pond and others had some Blue-winged-Teals and 3 American Wigeons (at
1.6 miles after West Lake I took the Snake Bight Trail (1.8
miles long) to the Snake Bight. On the trail itself was little around,
besides 1 Prairie Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler and 2 Raccoons, probably
due to the warm early afternoon, but in the morning lots of warblers were
seen here. In the Snake Bight I found a "Wurdemann's" Heron, some
Gull-billed Terns, a Greater Yellowlegs, 2 American Avocets, American White
Behind Flamingo is Eco Pond at which I spent most of the late
afternoon and evening. Best birds on and around this pond were a female
Painted Bunting, an overflying Roseate Spoonbill (the only one I saw in
the Everglades), a beautiful Sora and finally an Ovenbird.
Around the Campground Flamingo which is a good place to stay
I found 2 Savannah Sparrows.
I got up early and found two Raccoons at Flamingo. At dawn (ca. 6.30
am) I was already at Nine-Miles Pond since I heard this might be a good
time and spot to find White-crowned Pigeon, nevertheless I didn't but saw
some Roseate Spoonbills flying by. I left the Everglades and went on US-1
south towards the Keys (I missed Card Sound Rd...). Along US-1 were some
wading birds including several Roseate Spoonbills. Unfortunately there
was too much traffic to stop.
Once on the Keys and still on US-1 my first stop was on North
Key Largo at John Pennekamp State Park with little to no birds around.
Maybe this area is better later in the year. 8.2 miles further west is
the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, a rehabilitation center for injured
birds. Although the smell is hard to stand the place turned out to be good
for birding since I found several wading birds including Reddish Egret
and also a flock of Black-necked Stilts.
Going further west a stop at Lake Edna on Grassy Key (turn right
for about 0.2 miles at MM 57.9, Miles before US-1 ends according to green
signs along the road) produced some Lesser Yellowlegs and another Roseate
Spoonbill (I saw some of them along US-1). Eventually I found a Scissor-tailed
Flycatcher on one of the backroads north of US-1 on Boca Chica Key.
entering Key West I turned right just before the bridge to visit
West Botanical Garden, where I found a Broad-winged Hawk. Key West
itself was irritating since it took me some time to find the Dry Tortugas
Ferry Office to book on a trip for the following day. After managing this
and already having my very expensive campground, I drove in the evening
Fort Zachary State Park where I found Prairie Warbler and some
other nice birds. On the way back to the campground - while trying to find
my way out of Key West - I found finally somewhere a White-crowned Pigeon
perched on top of a Cypress Tree.
Today I went with Dry Tortuga Ferrys to Fort Jefferson on Garden
Key, a small island of the Dry Tortugas. The ferry ride to and from Garden
Key was already worthwhile since I saw several Northern Gannets, Dolphins
and even Sea Turtles (probably Loggerhead Turtles). Ask the captain or the naturalist (Jack).
Key Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns are easily
seen in big numbers. The terns nest on the adjacent
Bush Key. Inside
Jefferson was good for some Warblers, although there were also lots
of Yellow-rumped Warblers on the beach. In the trees and bushes I also
found a Gray Kingbird, a Short-eared Owl and even an American Kestrel.
Above the Fort were two Barn Swallows.
As I went on the roof of the Fort, which is only possible on one side,
I had sufficient views with my scope of some Masked Boobies on the far
(ca. 2 miles) away Hospital Key, not much more than a sand bar.
On the way back to Key West the ferry went closer to this sandy island
to get better views.
The sandy beach between Garden Key and Bush Key turned out to be good
for Shorebirds since I found a Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper,
Black-bellied Plover, Whimbrel, Turnstones, Killdeers etc.
As the ferry left Garden Key in the afternoon a White-winged Dove landed
on the beach. We were back in Key West at about 5.15 pm.
Since I found no affordable accomodation on the Keys I went back to
Homestead to spend another night in the Greenstone Motel.
I found the Card Sound Road (CR-997) and went on to Card Sound Bridge.
On the mainland side of the bridge I found a Northern Waterthrush in the
bushes aswell as a Yellow Warbler. Once on the Keys again I headed southwest
on CR-905 till I came to Key Largo Hammocks State Botanical Site
(just before entering US-1 again) where I had a walk and had some very
nice views of White-crowned Pigeons.
Since I still had some time left I also went again into the Everglades
National Park. First to Anhinga Trail, with only very few photographers
due to the cloudy weather and then to Gumbo Limbo Trail where there
was another White-crowned Pigeon and a pretty Least Flycatcher.
Afterwards I headed towards Miami to give my rental car back and to
catch the flight back to Munich.
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