Re: TAS Trip to Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas

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Posted by Brian Rapoza on 19:15:19 05/06/14

In Reply to: TAS Trip to Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas posted by Russ Martens

Eleven birders joined Paul Bithorn and me for this past weekend s TAS birding tour to Florida s Keys and the Dry Tortugas. We began the tour on Saturday under rainy skies at Convoy Point in Biscayne National Park, searching for Mangrove Cuckoo. We couldn t locate any of the cuckoos that had been making daily appearances in the visitor center parking lot; the weather may have been a factor. As we headed into the Keys, the rain moved on and skies remained clear for the duration of the tour.

We made several stops on Key Largo, including Card Sound Bridge, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Carysfort Circle and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. Lunch was at the Buzzard s Roost on Key Largo. Afternoon stops included Grassy Key, Sombrero Golf Course in Marathon, the Marathon Government Center and Ohio Key. After checking into Ibis Bay Resort in Key West, we visited Key West Airport, where we had several nighthawks at dusk, but none of them vocalized. Dinner was at the Hogfish on Stock Island.

Sunday was spent in Dry Tortugas National Park. The ride on the Yankee Freedom was rather bumpy, with 2-4 foot seas in Rebecca Channel, making a search for pelagic species difficult. Brown and Masked Booby, Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy were easily found as we approached Garden Key. Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well as three species each of swallow and thrush were present in good numbers in and around Fort Jefferson, but warblers and other neotropical migrants were not as abundant as we had hoped for. A large flock of Cattle Egrets didn t help matters, competing with several raptors to systematically pick off exhausted songbirds on the fort s parade grounds. A bird identified as a Philadelphia Vireo was found in the campground and a White-rumped Sandpiper was spotted along the beach leading to Bush Key. The return ride to Key West was smoother. After dinner at the Turtle Kraals near the ferry dock, we paid another visit to the airport, but once again encountered only silent nighthawks. A quick stop at Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island produced no nighthawks at all.

On Monday, we visited Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Indigenous Park in Key West, where cuckoos and thrushes were once again conspicuous. While we failed to locate previously-reported Bahama Mockingbirds at either park, some in the group spotted a Pileated Woodpecker at Fort Zachary Taylor, a possible first for the Lower Keys! A female Bay-breasted Warbler was arguably the best migrant found there. After leaving Key West, we made a brief stop at Boca Chica Beach, where we found another White-rumped Sandpiper feeding among several shorebird species on the beach s wrack line. After lunch at Mangrove Mama s on Sugerloaf Key, we headed back to Miami. A stop at Black Point Park failed to produce a Mangrove Cuckoo, but we easily found Cave Swallows upon our return to Florida s Turnpike.

Here s what we saw during our tour, along with where we saw them, to the best of my recollection (M = Miami-Dade, K = Keys, T = Dry Tortugas):

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck - M
Egyptian Goose - M
Muscovy Duck - M
Mottled Duck - M
Blue-winged Teal - K
Northern Shoveler - K
Red-breasted Merganser - K
Masked Booby - T
Brown Booby - T
Brown Pelican - all
Double-crested Cormorant - all
Anhinga - K
Magnificent Frigatebird- K, T
Great Blue Heron K
Great White Heron - K
Wurdemann s Heron - K
Great Egret -K
Snowy Egret -K
Little Blue Heron K, T
Tricolored Heron - K
Reddish Egret - K
Cattle Egret K, T
Green Heron M, T
White Ibis M, K
Black Vulture - K
Turkey Vulture M, K
Osprey M, K
Sharp-shinned Hawk - T
Red-shouldered Hawk - M
Merlin - T
Peregrine Falcon - T
Common Gallinule M, K
American Coot - M
Black-bellied Plover - K
Semipalmated Plover - K
Killdeer - K
Black-necked Stilt M, K
Spotted Sandpiper - T
Solitary Sandpiper - K
Willet - K
Lesser Yellowlegs - K
Ruddy Turnstone K, T
Sanderling - K
Semipalmated Sandpiper - K
Western Sandpiper - K
Least Sandpiper - K
White-rumped Sandpiper K, T
Dunlin - K
Stilt Sandpiper - K
Short-billed Dowitcher - K
Laughing Gull - all
Ring-billed Gull - K
Royal Tern K
Roseate Tern - K
Least Tern -K
Sooty Tern - T
Brown Noddy - T
Black Skimmer - T
Rock Pigeon - K
White-crowned Pigeon - K
Eurasian Collared-Dove - all
White-winged Dove - M
Mourning Dove - all
Common Ground-Dove - K
Monk Parakeet - M
Yellow-chevroned Parakeet - M
Red-masked Parakeet - M
Yellow-billed Cuckoo K, T
Burrowing Owl - K
Common Nighthawk - M
Nighthawk sp. - K
Chimney Swift - M
Ruby-throated Hummingbird K, T
Belted Kingfisher - K
Red-bellied Woodpecker M, K
Northern Flicker - M
Pileated Woodpecker - K
Great Crested Flycatcher - K
Eastern Kingbird - K
Gray Kingbird - K
Loggerhead Shrike - M
Philadelphia Vireo - T
Red-eyed Vireo K, T
Black-whiskered Vireo - K
Blue Jay - M
American Crow - M
Fish Crow - M
Bank Swallow - T
Cliff Swallow - T
Cave Swallow - M
Barn Swallow K, T
Veery K, T
Gray-cheeked Thrush K, T
Swainson s Thrush K, T
Gray Catbird, K, T
Northern Mockingbird M, K
European Starling, M, K
Common Myna, M, K
Ovenbird - K
Northern Waterthrush K, T
Black-and-white Warbler - all
Tennessee Warbler - T
Common Yellowthroat K, T
American Redstart - all
Northern Parula - K
Magnolia Warbler K, T
Bay-breasted Warbler - K
Yellow Warbler K, T
Cuban Yellow Warbler - K
Blackpoll Warbler - all
Black-throated Blue Warbler K, T
Palm Warbler K, T
Prairie Warbler K, T
Black-throated Green Warbler - K
Scarlet Tanager K, T
Northern Cardinal - K
Indigo Bunting K, T
Bobolink - T
Red-winged Blackbird M, K
Common Grackle M, K
Boat-tailed Grackle M, K
Brown-headed Cowbird - K
House Sparrow - K

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