Thursday, February 7, 2013

The West Side of Florida

On 1/30, we woke up in Homestead. Our goal was to make it to the west side of the state, birding the Tamiami Trail on the way, and hitting some beaches once we got there. But not without driving around Homestead to find a  Common Myna. It took all of 5 minutes to find a line of birds strung up on a wire preening in a Starling like fashion.

Common Myna

We started birding our way west along the Tamiami Trail. Last year, I photographed a very cooperative Purple Gallinule at the "Everglades Safari Park", so we stopped here to see if the bird might still be around. Sure enough, we found the bird foraging on the lawn with White Ibis and Boat-tailed Grackles. Too easy. It was too tame and I had to back away to fit the bird in my 300mm lens!

Purple Gallinule

We eventually made it to the west coast of Florida, managing to miss Short-tailed Hawk in areas where they have recently been seen. A real tragedy. Our first stop on the gulf side was Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. The beach was full of shorebirds including hoards of Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, Plovers, Dowitchers and Knots. A few other birders were enjoying the birds as well, until a little boy decided it was a good idea to run at the flocks and scare them off the beach; his mom watching the whole thing. At least I got my shots off before this event took place. Mind you these aren't great shots as the sun was high overhead, but not much I could do about that.

Wilson's Plover

A banded Red Knot

Black-bellied Plover (better pics to come)

We moved north to Fort Myers beach. Thus far we missed Snowy Plover at every stop. Again, we failed to find one here. We did have a few roosting gulls and terns on the beach, and here is where I got some good Sandwich and Royal Tern photos.

Sandwich Tern

Royal Tern

More pictures from the Everglades that I didn't get around to editing earlier, and more shorebird pictures can be found on the flickr website. The next post will include photos from Sanibel, Ding Darling NWR and a few other spots. Many more photos to come! And please check out the donate page, if you haven't already, to find out how you can help bird conservation! Big thanks to all those who have already shown their support!

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