Audubon Society of the Everglades Florida Keys Tour, October 18, 2009
I had the pleasure of taking 14-members of the
Audubon Society of the
Everglades birding in the Florida Keys. We were going to start in
Marathon midway in the keys and then hit birding areas going north. I made
the decision to head south instead of north, I wanted the group to go to Key
West. Key West is only about an hour from Marathon, I figured that with the
cold front coming through, that Key West would be the place to be. We made
a beeline for Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. Along the way I
could see warblers along the road and flying across the road. I felt that
the birding was going to be really good at Fort Zachary Taylor. We arrived
at the park about 9:00 a.m. and were greeted by dozens and dozens of
migrants. We were in the middle of a fallout with birds everywhere we
looked. The birds were very flighty and not staying in one place for very
long. This made in difficult to get on many of the birds. There were many
Eastern Wood-Pewee present with many of the birds calling. We also had
a calling Acadian Flycatcher which would not show itself, darn it!
There were many Indigo Buntings calling and a few Painted Buntings, we
got good looks at a few Indigo Buntings.
American Redstarts were everywhere you looked, mostly females.
We also had a few Yellow-throated Warblers which showed well.
When we were driving into the park, we saw dozens and dozens of Palm
Warblers, they have come back in a big way!
There were many, many Gray Catbirds, like everything else they were very
active. I guess they were getting a good meal before crossing the
We saw the Disney cruise ship come in and then the Ft. Myers Ferry, I
wonder if any pelagic birds can be seen from this catamaran? Carl
Goodrich joined us and helped find more birds. We we checked the
Australian Pines near the beach where we saw many more warblers. We
also had at least two calling Dickcissel which did not land were we could
We had dozens of raptors and swallows, many Sharp-shinned Hawks,
Cooper's Hawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and great flyover views of
Broad-winged Hawk. Birds were in the air on the ground and in
the trees, everywhere we looked!
We had an excellent lunch right on Higg's Beach after about four or five
hours of "fast and furious" birding. While eating lunch, an American Avocet
landed on the beach with a Willet and Black-bellied Plover. This was
an excellent fallout, I wish that we were able to stay the whole day, it
would have been well worth it!
After lunch I departed the Audubon group and started driving out of Key
West. As I came to Flagler near an Irish Pub, I saw a soaring immature
Mississippi Kite. I called two birders on the Island and the Audubon
group to alert them to the kite. No one was able find it after I left,
I at least was able to get a photo of it. I even got to see it land in
a huge Tropical Almond Tree. The bird was dive bombed by a couple of
Kestrels, perhaps they made it move on?
I did not keep a list of total birds seen, but have included the
warblers and other cool birds. There were dozens and dozens of
Kestrels trying to cross the water along the 7-mile bridge. I don't
think I have ever seen so many Kestrels in one day, they were certainly in
the hundreds of birds. I saw them all along the 130 miles back to
Homestead, it was truly amazing the numbers that I saw!
|Tennessee Warbler a lifer for a few.
|Magnolia Warbler, many, many birds.
|Black-throated Blue Warbler
|Black-throated Green Warbler
||SNAIL KITE, seen by 2-members on US1!
||Dickcissel, at least two birds
|Hooded Warbler, several seen including males.
|Common Yellowthroat, very abundant.
|American Redstart, very abundant.
||Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, US1 and Long Beach
road on Big Pine Key.
|Boblink, several birds
||Rose-breasted Grosbeak, seen by the group after I
|Eastern Woodpewee, everywhere
Our group saw 13-species of warbler in
the 4-5 hours that we birded which is pretty darn good. Carl Goodrich
was able to bird the whole day and ended up with 19-species of warbler.
He had Chestnut-sided Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler and a
few others that we did not have time to see. It was a wonderful half
day of birding with a great group of people!