All right, I admit...I played Hooky from our Audubon meeting last Wednesday the 27th. Was 'I was not sick', rather, I was in Florida birding the Everglades. I just had to do it...the snow was shoveled, the cold was still around, but I filled up the feeders and left via AC and Spirit Airlines down to Fort Lauderdale.
After landing and renting my car, I spent the early afternoon that first day birding south Miami area, ....where all the mansions are. "I can afford that one over" there I can remember myself saying....the unfinished one, the one still showing cinderblocks only, no plumbing, no rooms etc. Just the land and blocks.... Oh well, no one said birding makes you rich. So in South Miami I spent time in Matheson Hammock Park on the south east side of Miami, down...down from the city.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a few warblers, who most likely spend some of their time in our state during warmer hours. Yellow-rumped (of course), prairie, black and white, yellow throated and palms were abundant but so were a flock of American Pipits, grackles, broad-winged hawks, eastern Phoebes, ....so not bad for getting fresh off the boat.
Onto the Everglades as I wanted to bird a bit before sunset. Arriving on the east end my thinking was to bird from 'out to in' , considered I wanted to do birding first and driving second. The heart of the Everglades would be for tomorrow. So at Anahinga trail, I found,....Anahingas. I also picked up a few Purple Gallinules. Such graceful little birds that must not weigh anything, as they they tiptoe from lily to lily. Gorgeous birds dressed in deep dark purple, with a greenish tint to the upper parts, bright yellow legs and a reddish beak with yellow on the tip. It is just yelling out to everyone out there...look at me, look at me, I am sooooo beautiful. I do little if nothing other than to be beautiful. the Kardashians of the bird world. The Gallinule was a 'lifer' for me....kerrrching!
But there were other cool birds that first day including Green Herons, Blue Herons, egrets (any and all types)...... and of course some alligators. I managed to not get my leg bit. I can remember a friend of mine who was a park ranger when I was one years and years ago. He was stationed in the Everglades and had this nasty old lady scold him out for him telling her to keep the dog in the car. Well, she didn't..... and a gator had a nice little hamburger wrapped up for him in poodle like fashion. ...ha!...well....keep the dogs inside folks.
Now....along the side of the road leading in were loggerhead shrikes, tons of them, as well as Kestrals, Red-shouldered Hawks, Harriers, Short-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles and two of my favorite views I had----a pair of Swainsons'. I looked 'up' frequently for Kites (swallow-tailed and snail) but not in my time did I distinguish one from the massive amounts of Black Vultures. Shucks....one of my target birds. So, that means I have to play hooky again one day....hmmmm.
So day one.....was: a successful landing by Spirit Airlines and, 'on-time'. That alone should have made my birding day, but....the highlight was the Purple Gallinule and of course those Swainsons. .... It was cloudy all day, but who cares?....it was 80 degrees. More to come....