So, after I finished my work duties in Dunedin, I drove south. First stop, Naples. Using e-Bird I discovered a neighborhood where I hoped to find one or two to photograph at dusk. I drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes before I began hearing the familiar squawk of the Rose-ringed Parakeets. A few landed for me and though the light wasn’t great, I managed to get a few photos of these lovely birds. Outside of Hawaii, only small pockets of these birds exist and only in a few neighborhoods in and around Naples, Florida.
The next morning I headed over to Miami and Black Point Marina Park. It is here that, if you’re ever so lucky, you can hear and maybe even see the resident Mangrove Cuckoo. On two previous occasions I did neither and now I was back for a rematch, as the bird had been seen just days prior to my visit. Over the two hours or so that I hung out in the area the bird likes to hide in, I did not even get a glimpse of it, but finally, I did hear its distinctive call twice, enough to finally count it on my ABA Life List, as number 673.
Next, it was on to the Marathon, in the Florida Keys. Back in 2012, I had searched in vain to roofs above the courthouse and other old buildings in Key West for Roseate Terns. It was only in the last couple of years that I discovered that they nest in Marathon and are easy to get at the Municipal Buildings. I learned about this too late in 2016 to go and 2017 was a washout due to my back surgery. So, I drove the 3 hours south along the Overseas Highway and made it by mid-afternoon in the sweltering heat of a typical summer day in the Keys. I wasn’t there two minutes before I was hearing the terns calling and over the next hour or so I watched several of them fly over, many with food in their beaks, likely feeding whatever young were still in the nests. Oh, and Lifer 674, the second of the day and my third Lifer of the year, all in Florida. That brings my total Life List to 1013.
I also made stops at Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Sanctuary and Oscar Scherer State Park, where it was too late in the afternoon to spot Florida Scrub Jays. Also saw a wide variety of butterflies, which is always a good thing on days where the birds are staying hidden.
White-eyed Vireo and Thin-legged Wolf Spider at Corkscrew Swamp:
And some of the aforementioned butterflies, none of which I can identify: