Friday, May 15, 2009

Florida Birding Trip Day 6: Into the Everglades and leaving in tears! Into the Floirda Keys, grinning from ear to ear! (Lifers are bolded)

Anhinga drying its wings. Photo by Marianne Balkwill

The alarm was set early this morning. It was the day I was going to try for a key endangered subspecies, the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. We entered the famous Everglades National Park at the crack of dawn, and went to the spot in the ABA guide where this species was guaranteed. I thought we were in the right spot, but I read the directions wrong. Instead of staying on the main road we were originally on, I thought we were supposed to turn down another road. I kept listening for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow where we were now, but heard nothing. Aaron grabbed the ABA book and read the right directions. We turned back on the main road and I did hear a Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow eventually but it was near the 10:00 am hour by now, the critical time when this species stops singing! I started seeing a sparrow like bird flitting around in the grass, but not clear enough to even pick up a field mark in the morning sun....and then..........the bird stopped singing.......I dropped to the ground in defeat. Of course, being a girl, I started crying because I screwed up the directions, will now never see my endangered sparrow, and my life was over. Aaron, being the practical one, reassured me that after we headed out of the Florida Keys on our way back, we could try again....I guess that was a glimmer of hope.

We then drove down to Snake Bite trail. This was the trail that, in the past, was one of the few areas in North America where American Flamingo is ABA countable. We pulled over, got on our gear, and started heading down the trail. 15 feet into the trail the Snake Bite airforce came at us. MOSQUITOES!! We quickly retreated back to the car as our arms, and faces, were getting covered with the bloodthirsty mob. We even had Muskol on, but the mosquitoes didn't even care. That was now two life birds not seen today. I started to hate the Everglades.
Later we drove to the area of Flamingo to try for Shiny Cowbird...nope...ughhh
We decided to turn back towards the main gate, but not without stopping at the famous Anhinga Trail to get some photos of Anhinga, Alligator, Black Vulture, Green Heron, and try for Purple Gallinule.....get me outta the Everglades please.

Black Vulture portrait. Photo by Marianne Balkwill

Green Heron. All the wading birds, and of course the Black Vultures, are so readibly approachable in Florida. Photo by Marianne Balkwill.
Things started getting better when we entered the Florida Keys. Within miles of entering I saw a large soaring bird fly over, and then another and another. MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD! Now the day was getting better! We ended up staying at the Sandpiper Motel, a quaint, and reasonably cheap motel in Marathon. We later went swimming in the ocean and I enjoyed wearing a bikini, floating on my back, while Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican and Laughing Gulls flew over. We also saw a slimy black slug like creature, about the length of my hand, called a SEA HARE. I didn't have my camera with me at that point unfortunetly. That night we ate at an awesome restaurant, and rested up for our day tomorrow, driving down to Key West and back to our motel again.

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