American Alligator in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo by Aaron Balkwill
Today we were off to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in search of wading birds. The sanctuary was established to protect one of the largest remaining stands of Bald Cypress and Pond Cypress in North America. It also has one of the biggest Wood Stork colonies. There is a 3 km boardwalk going all the way through this ecosystem. Walking along the boardwalk we met some birders that commented on my hat (OFO) and said that they were on there way to Point Pelee this May. We hung out for a little while and we picked up a new species for the trip, a male and female Painted Bunting at the feeder the park had set up. This was the best view I have ever had of a Painted Bunting, the other being just a memory of a red and blue blob in Pelee back in May 2002.
It was the dry season when we were down there so there wasn't much swamp to look at until we came to a water hole with two AMERICAN ALLIGATORS present. The other water holes that we stopped at were larger with many wading birds congregating together. There were White Ibis, Anhinga, Tricoloured Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Wood Stork, and the species we were searching for, ROSEATE SPOONBILL.
Adult Roseate Spoonbill. Photo by Marianne Balkwill
After Corkscrew, we decided to give Immokalee a try for Crested Caracara. The birders we met in Corkscrew said it was a long shot. Driving along a road I did notice a raptor sitting in a tree. We pulled over and I took out my binoculars. CRESTED CARACARA!!! That would be the only one we would see for the whole trip.
Our next stop was driving to Big Cypress for Snail Kite. We pulled over at a local spot were they would take people out on boats through the swamp. Scanning with the scope I did pick up a female SNAIL KITE hunting over the swamp.
At this point we were close to the Kendall area where Red-whiskered Bulbul breed, so we decided to try for this species. Walking around the local hotspot for this species (a Tennis Court) I tried to locate the Bulbul, but no luck. We also went to another hotspot, at a local park, and searched and searched. In the end we didn't get the Red-whiskered Bullbul, but I did pick up a new species, MUSKOVY. I still can't believe that this heavy bellied domestic duck is ABA countable. Looking around the park I noticed that almost EVERY bird I was seeing was an introduced species!! The Muscovy, Eurasian-Collared Dove, Mitred Parakeets (non-ABA countable), Rock Pigeons, House Sparrow, Starling!! It was weird...
After driving in horrific traffic, we got to our Super 8 motel in Homestead. Tomorrow, it is off to the Everglades in the morning and then into the Florida Keys!