Monday, March 18, 2013

Miami... Round 2

If you are keeping up with this blog, you know I missed the Thick-billed Vireo in Miami two weekends ago. However, birders were reporting the bird regularly all week and it was just too tempting. I made a solo return trip to Miami this past weekend, leaving at 11pm on Friday night and arriving at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park just before it opened at 8am. When the gates opened, I sped to the vireo location. Soon after, it sang. I didn't get on it the first time. However, I had a vantage point no one else had and I finally got a 2-3 second look at the bird; enough to say it was a Thick-billed Vireo but the view left much to be desired. I hung around for another few hours. While others grew tired and started dispersing to look in different areas (and apparently finding a male Western Spindalis!), I stuck around the gate. Just after some people reported the vireo from the nature trail, I returned to the gate where only me and one other guy got spectacular looks at the Thick-billed Vireo as it scolded right out in the open! Finally!

Now the bad news... My DSLR camera lens has broken. Truth is, my Nikon D300 is quite old too and is on its last legs. Fear not, I'm working on a solution and should be up and running again soon.<br><br>

I still had my disiscoping camera to use this past weekend, so I got a few new shots. After enjoying the vireo, I bolted north to Pelican Island NWR to see the long-staying White-cheeked Pintail.

White-cheeked Pintail
This is a bird that is commonly kept in captivity, but also exists in the wild just over 100 miles from Pelican Island NWR. Given the spree of Caribbean vagrants Florida has had this winter, the fact that this bird is on an Atlantic coastal NWR associating with Blue-winged Teal (a species that also occurs in the Bahamas), is unbanded with no clipped halux and isn't pinioned, it seems this is about as good of a vagrant as it could get! It will be interesting to see what the Florida records committee does with this bird, but if this one doesn't get accepted, it seems the other accepted records from Texas, Florida, Alabama (and Virginia?), should also be called into question. But enough of that.

Also present at Pelican Island was a Long-billed Dowitcher that flew in while calling. These have always proved a headache for me to identify unless they are calling. It seems the rule of thumb in Florida is that if the dowitcher is inland in fresh water, it is probably a Long-billed. If it is coastal in saltwater, you are probably looking at a Short-billed Dowitcher. I snapped a horrible digiscoped photo of the Pelican Island dowitcher but also obtained a sound clip of the bird calling as it flew off. Turn up the volume if you want to hear the dowitcher, it is a bit quiet.

Long-billed Dowitcher

On Sunday, I had time to visit Orlando Wetlands before heading back to Tallahassee. I got there just as the sun was coming up, making for good photography. Oh how I wished my lens hadn't broke! This Wilson's Snipe was confiding as I digiscoped away.

Wilson's Snipe

Black-crowned Night-Herons were also present. For a Night-Heron, this one sure was enjoying the sun!

Black-crowned Night-Heron

There are a few more mediocre photos of common birds like Gadwall and American Avocet on the Flickr page.

A big thanks to the new sponsors for this big year. Your pledges, big and small, are very much appreciated! I hope the pledges continue to roll in as the season progresses. I know the American Bird Conservancy and the birds of Hawaii can use any help they can get! For more information, see here: Donate

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