Rain, rain....rain....and more rain. That is what haunted me all day, the following day. I felt like I was in Guango Lodge or Mindo in Ecuador as the rain just battered down and never let up. The wipers on the car were on 'high'....
I fought traffic this fine day, and my intent was to follow the advice of the weather man who stated that no rain was coming today. So I did...and the morning traffic was terrible as I retraced my drive back to Matheson Hammock Park. I wanted to see my target birds of a few more warblers and four parakeets. Now, from what I understand, there are no parakeet species endemic to the US and that includes Florida. So given that, why does the ABA recognize 4 of the 75 species of parrots and parakeets in Florida as official birds to 'count' within a big year" ...why?
To place that in perspective....California Condors were killed by the thousands due to the use of DDT in the 60's and really even now, since DDT is still present as areas in the world still use it, or...lead is used in ammunition etc... All harmful to condor eggs. The California Condor was down to 27 birds in 1987...27 birds! Those were carefully taken care of and bred in the San Diego Zoo and I believe the LA Zoo too if I recall. Today the numbers have grown to the mid 400's... (in captivity and in the wild). But not until 2014, did the ABA allow this bird to be countable since it was a recovery bird. Such tight standards and yet, why so 'untight' on parrots and parakeets? I have no idea.....
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, due to the rain, it made my birding day a bust.... Even when I went to the weather forecast on my phone, it would say, 'no rain'....but what the heck batman....what is this stuff that has been falling for hours and has soaked me? No rain???? So nice it must be to be a weatherman or woman and not be accountable for what the weather is like either this 'very minute' let a lone a few hours from now. Is that a real job? Really?
I made a command decision and headed to the Keys..... My intent was to find two birds that were lifers to me. One is the Florida White Heron, which is a 'white version' of the Blue Heron but considered a different species. This bird is endemic to only the Florida Keys and one must travel to Big Pine (about two hours of car travel and 80 miles of 'bird travel') into the Keys. There you will find the Great White Heron National Refuge which is almost entirely located in sea water as the Keys themselves, have little land to share. The second bird I wanted to see was the Magnificent Frigatebird'...one I have never seen here in the states and since I have never as of yet been on a 'vomit boat' or...a Pelagic Tour in the states, I haven't seen this sea bird. And Florida Keys is an excellent locale to spot them over land. Or, count them by the dozens in South America coast etc...
Now....in both cases I was successful....I saw a few Florida White Herons and must have seen a dozen+ Frigates. But in order to do so, I needed to travel 80 miles / two hours on a two lane road going 40 mph at most.... or so. I officially found myself in good company, those of 'insane birders' who go long distances and spend great time and money to find one bird, or in this case two. A non-birder would say....you did what? I on the other hand, can proudly say I traveled a few hours and miles in hopes of finding a bird. Success.... I found success.... and I even had a few more Largo Ales in that beach bar on the stop home. Of course, being a rough and tumble beach bar, I couldn't exactly talk about my exalted conquests in front of this biker bar bunch of guys....so I pretended I rode my Harley down the keys.... fighting off women who were only after guys in leather. The beer flowed, times were good....motorcycle talk, women talk...you know, tough guy I am.
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