Sunday, February 3, 2013

Miami Rarities and Exotics

Day 3 of our Florida trip took us to Miami to track down some of the recent rarities and exotics. Our first stop was Virginia Key to look for the female Western Spindalis. There was a negative report from the day before, and it seems the bird moves around a lot, so we figured on spending a while looking. Luckily, local birder guru Robin Diaz was helping another birder look for the bird. We all scoured the area until Robin and I caught a glimpse of the bird flying in and calling. Unfortunately, it flew out of the area before anyone else saw it. A while later, my dad found the bird but still, we only had brief, distant looks. This bird was not cooperative! Finally, after a while longer, my dad spotted the bird, mostly obscured by leaves, silently feeding on opossum berries. How he spotted this thing, I will never know. I managed only one identifiable photo, but it should do the trick.

Female Western Spindalis

On our way back to the car, we spotted a few Crescents (butterflies). Robin told us she had some Cuban Crescents here recently. Sure enough, that is what these were. I hear they haven't been seen in Florida for many years! We failed to find any Short-tailed Hawks that had been reported.

Our next stop was Crandon Beach, a hotspot for wintering shorebirds. We were not disappointed. Hoards of Sanderling, Dunlin, Piping Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers were resting on the beach. Most of the beach birds in Florida have no fear of humans and are easily approachable.

Semipalmated Plover

Piping Plover



We then made our way to Kendall for exotics. We found Monk Parakeets across the street from the Kendall Hospital. They were loud and conspicuous as ever.

Monk Parakeet

Red-whiskered Bulbul and Spot-breasted Oriole were major targets as well, but we didn't have much luck with these. We drove Kendall and Kendallwood neighborhoods. In Kendallwood, we finally heard two Bulbuls calling back and forth in the front yard of a house, but I never got a look at them. No Orioles were seen.

Finally, we drove back up to Miami and hung around the North Shore Medical Facility, a known area where White-winged Parakeets roost. We drove some back roads and heard some distant parakeets flying over. We finally spotted a group of noisy parakeets dropping down into some Royal Palms to roost for the night. I could have managed better pictures, but this area is a place you probably don't want to leave your car...

White-winged Parakeet

White-winged Parakeet
We finished by battling the horrific Miami traffic down to Homestead where we spent the night.

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