Thursday, May 29, 2008

Florida Trip, Day 5: May 14

Birding the Florida Keys

Wednesday was spent exploring some local birdy spots in the Florida Keys and going after certain target birds. We hit locations on Key Largo, Big Pine Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, and Vaca Key. The morning started at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, where we picked up another Mangrove Cuckoo, had great looks at a Black-whiskered Vireo, and I had my life White-crowned Pigeon. Otherwise, it wasn’t really too birdy, with the only new bird (besides the pigeon) a Blackpoll Warbler.

We then made our way down to Vaca Key and the town of Marathon, and hit a local golf course for Burrowing Owl ( a lifer) and visited a state office building complex that had Least Terns and Roseate Terns nesting on the roofs. We waited in the heat for a while, and finally had a pair of Roseate Terns show up (another lifer). After that, we decided to have lunch at a great local spot, Herbie’s. I highly recommend it.

Burrowing Owl, Marathon

After lunch, it was on to Bahia Honda Key, which is a state park. Not much of interest there besides girls in bikinis, but I did get some good scenery photos and decent photos of Blackpoll Warblers.

Blackpoll Warbler, Bahia Honda Key

We ended up in Big Pine Key and searched vainly for a motel that wasn’t charging $100 a night for a 2 bed room with no phone, but alas. This motel did have a pool, but it was being used by Common Grackles and Eurasian Collared Doves, so any desire for a refreshing dip was quelled.

Common Grackles using the pool, Big Pine Key

Eurasian Collared Dove, contemplating a dip

After a dinner of Cuban food, we drove back up to the Marathon Airport and camped out on a picnic table on the south side, awaiting dusk and my last life bird of the day – Antillean Nighthawk. Then it was back to the hotel, eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s destination: The Dry Tortugas!

Antillean Nighthawk

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