SIB Travels: Southern Florida

Not coordinating our schedules, Jackie and Walter Brooks were in Florida the same time as Judy and Dean Morr. We were in different areas so two blogs. Today, the Brooks! The Morr’s trip report to come soon. – Judy Morr

Never ones to pass up an opportunity for a trip, we set off for Miami and our Global Entry interviews with thoughts of seeing all sorts of exotic birds as we extended our trip to include birding and traipsing the Keys.

Burrowing Owl – Jackie Brooks

The 175 acre Brian Piccolo Park is a sports venue located in Cooper City, Florida (Near Fort Lauderdale). It was the chance to see the ever adorable Burrowing Owls that made this stop a must.

Interviews completed, we hit several Miami-Dade hot spots where such creatures as the Red-legged Honeycreeper, macaws of all descriptions, and Red-masked Parakeets had been seen by many. Along with other birders, we waited in excited anticipation. We waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, we left with only ibis, butterbutts, White-winged Doves……oh, and one lone cardinal that I excitedly motioned birders over to see, thinking it was something exotic as it was so red. Color me red!!

Everywhere we went, it was the same story and same birds that we see daily here on Seabrook Island. Iguanas, however, were plentiful. In A.D. Barnes Park, we , with Merlin’s help, heard a Red-masked Parakeet but never saw it. We did see two Egyptian Geese, which are an introduced species.

Messy Osprey nest – Jackie Brooks

We had a little better luck in Key West at Fort Zachary Taylor. No exotic species, but an Osprey who had succumbed to the island attitude with the poorest excuse for a nest I have ever seen.

Sandwich Tern – Waiting to go to rehab – Jackie Brooks

We also watched Royal and Sandwich Terns doing “touch and goes” with a couple of fishermen’s baits. Sure, it was all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In this case, a Sandwich Tern was hooked in the leg. The fisherman went above and beyond to safely reel in the tern, crawling over slippery boulders to bring it to safety. Fortunately, since it was bleeding from the leg, there was a knowledgeable local nearby who offered to take the tern to a local rehab place after letting it rest and calm down a bit.

Some of the easiest birding ever can be spotting the infamous Red Junglefowl of Key West, aka the chickens and roosters. They’re everywhere. As mentioned in an earlier post, this bird is considered Naturalized (in Key West) or Escapee (most other areas).

Leaving the Keys is always a sad thing for us, but we ended up at Homestead and Everglades still hopeful of finding the elusive parrots, parakeets, and macaws. At Frog Pond WMA, we spotted 2 wire birds- a Loggerhead Shrike and , at last, something different, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Of course, it was cloudy and not great for photos. We met a birder from Chicago who was excited to see an alligator. Didn’t have the heart to tell him we had them in our backyard.
After checking out a couple of canals that were supposed to have Smooth-billed Ani, but we had no luck, so we headed back to hotel.

Dreams of going back to the hot spots in Miami- Dade were dashed the next morning when we acquired our only real exotic from the trip-Covid. Cutting our trip short and limping back home, we planned a return trip next January. We will get those parakeets, parrots, and macaws if we have to return multiple times.

Article and photos submitted by Jackie Brooks

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

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