Trip report from Abaco Island August 6-8, 1999

On this trip I birded with Dennis Buss from Dallas Texas.  Dennis needed  several birds that he had not seen on a previous visit.  We experienced warm weather and excellent birding.  Below is a list of what we saw on this two and a half day visit.
Least Grebe Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Double-crested Cormorant Mangrove Cuckoo
Magnificent Frigatebird Smooth-billed Ani
Tricolored Heron  Antillean Nighthawk
Reddish Egret Cuban Emerald
Cattle Egret Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Hairy Woodpecker
Glossy Ibis Crescent-eyed Pewee ( Cuban Pewee)
White-cheeked Pintail La Sagra's Flycatcher
Turkey Vulture Gray Kingbird
Red-tailed Hawk Loggerhead Kingbird
American Kestrel BAHAMA SWALLOW
Northern Bobwhite Barn Swallow
Common Moorhen Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Black-necked Stilt Northern Mockingbird
Lesser Yellowlegs THICK-BILLED VIREO
Semipalmated Sandpiper Black-whiskered Vireo
Least Sandpiper Yellow Warbler (Cuban Race)
Pectoral Sandpiper Yellow-throated Warbler (Bahama's Race)
Laughing Gull Pine Warbler
Royal Tern Prairie Warbler
Rock Dove Black-and-white Warbler
White-crowned Pigeon Louisiana Waterthrush
Eurasian Collared-Dove BAHAMA YELLOWTHROAT
White-winged Dove Bananaquit
ZENAIDA DOVE Western Stripe-headed Tanager(Stripe-headed Tanager)
Mourning Dove Black-faced Grassquit
Common Ground-Dove Greater Antillean Bullfinch
KEY WEST QUAIL DOVE Red-winged Blackbird
ROSE-THROATED PARROT (Bahama Parrot) House Sparrow
All the birds seen on this trip were seen from Sandy point at the southwest end of the Island, all the way to the northwest end of the Island.  We also traveled 5 miles into Abaco National Park.

Species in BOLD lettering represent some of the better species seen.  This can be because of their rarity or limited range.

                                 August 23, 1999

Out today with Brook Nicotra, Cathy Basset and Francis Korbly.  Our target birds were South Florida specialties in the Miami area and the Keys.

We met in the lobby of the Comfort Inn in Florida City at 7 a.m.  Our first target bird of the day was COMMON MYNA, these we found in the parking lot of one of the gas stations by the Comfort Inn.  These birds can be found at any fast food restaurant or parking lot just about any where in South Florida.

From here we found BARN OWL on a nest on the way to seeing the West Indies race of CAVE SWALLOW.  The Cave Swallows are found under the Turnpike bridge located at the Turnpike and s.w. 216 st. in Cutler Ridge.  These bird were first discovered breeding here in 1987 and seem to be spreading to other bridges along  Florida's Turnpike.  I would estimate the numbers at around 200 or more birds.

After good looks at the Cave Swallows we went to the Kendall area in search of SMOOTH-BILLLED ANI.  We not only saw the Anis but found an active nest with at least 3 or 4 young Anis present!!  This is the first active Smooth-billed Ani nest that I have ever encountered in the 33 years that I have been birding!!  This was a very pleasant surprise.  While looking at the Anis, I heard a Shiny Cowbird call, I found two in a nearby tree.  We had a Male and Female SHINY COWBIRD, this was a nice bonus bird for the group.

Our next target bird would be RED-WHISKERED BULBUL.  These we also found in the Kendall area.  We had great looks at two adults and two juveniles.  Most people from out of town can have a lot of trouble finding these birds.  These are not shy birds, but they can be easily over looked.

After the Bulbuls we went to Art and Betty Furchgot's house in search of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets.  Art and Betty have been very nice to many, many birders over the years and keep their bird feeders full.  We looked for but struck out on Yellow-cheveroned Parakeet.  No big deal, we will just have to find them some where else.

I decided to go into Coral Cables in search of the Yellow-chevroned Parakeet and the White-winged Parakeet.  I have found nests of both of these species in Coral Cables.  The only nests that I have found, have been located in Canary Island Date Palms.  I really don't think that they nest in any other tree, at least not in this area.  After finding the feeders that these birds love, we saw a flock of about 12 WHITE-WINGED PARAKEETS and about 4 YELLOW-CHEVRONED PARAKEETS .  I still don't know which of these two birds is more common.  In the winter I have seen White-winged Parakeets in flocks of at least 100 birds.  I have never seen any flocks of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets this large.  I have seen Yellow-chevroned Parakeets as far south as Homestead and as far north as Ft. Lauderdale.  I have only seen White-winged Parakeets in the Miami, Kendal area.  It's hard to say which species is more numerous.  Also found here were 4 MONK PARAKEETS.

Our next target bird would be WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON, these birds can be found in low numbers in the South Miami area.  They are not common here but have been breeding for many years.  We got to see one fly into a fruiting tree, after Cathy put the Convertible top down, we all had great looks.  Car birding at it's best.

Next it was off to Shorty's BBQ Restaurant in Kendall for a bite to eat.  After a tasty lunch we headed out into the Everglades in search of Snail Kite.  This is a 45 minute ride from Kendall, we traveled along the Tamiami Trail to an area near Shark Valley.  I was thinking that we would only have distant views of these birds, but we had a Male and Female SNAIL KITE perched in a small tree next to the road!! We did not even need a scope, some days you just get lucky.

Brook wanted to see Hill Myna so it was back to the Kendall area.  After a minimal amount of searching we found 6 HILL MYNAS calling from a dead tree.

After finding all the Miami area exotics that Brook wanted, we headed down to the Florida Keys in search of Black-whiskered Vireo and Mangrove Cuckoo.  I felt that finding the Black-whiskered Vireo would not be too much trouble but had doubts about Mangrove Cuckoo.  Mangrove Cuckoos are much easier to find in the Spring when they are calling.  I figured that while looking for the Black-whiskered Vireo that we might get lucky and find a Mangrove Cuckoo.  This was one of those days when everything falls into place and all the birds cooperate.

After fighting off the mosquitoes we found a BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO and had good looks.  Cathy and Francis could not deal with the mosquitoes any more and returned to the car.  Brook and I continued on in hopes of finding a Mangrove Cuckoo.  It was not more then 10 minutes after Cathy and Francis left that I saw some movement in a tree and saw what I thought was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Most Yellow-billed Cuckoos are very flighty and want to get away fast when they see you.  Mangrove Cuckoos are not at all shy (when you can find them) and can be very tame.  When I first saw this bird it flew a short distance away, I then relocated it thinking that it was going to fly away and realized  that it was in fact a MANGROVE CUCKOO.  I got Brooks on it and she was one happy camper.  This was the main bird that she wanted to get.  If this was the only bird that Brook wanted, I would have told her that in one day we might find one.  I told her it would be better to try for the Miami area birds and if we have time look for the Cuckoo.

Some days go like clockwork and this was one of them.  We ended the day with 56 species, we could have gotten more but we had target birds in mind.  Brook got 10 A.B.A. lifers and 3 escrow birds, Common Myna, Hill Myna and the possible split of  West Indies race of Cave Swallow.  Cathy and Francis don't keep a life list and mainly went a long for the ride.  It's a shame that they don't have a life list after we all had such a productive day birding.

                                  August 29, 1999

Today Christine and I birded in Everglades National Park.  We also birded in the suburbs of Kendall.  This was a short day, only about 4 hours of birding.

We started out in Everglades National Park  hoping to see some shorebirds in an area that is being restored.  This is  known has the "Hole in the Donut" area of the park or Research Road.   This is located west of Royal Palm Hammock and Anhinga Trail. This area was farmed until about 1975. After the farming was stopped this area became overgrown with Brazilian Pepper.  This is a very aggressive tree and can take over disturbed areas very quickly.  It is now being cleared and restored back to what this area used to look like.

We drove down  Research Road on the way to the area that we would be looking for shorebirds.  About a half a mile before we got to this area, we had decent views of a FLORIDA PANTHERThis is the first sighting that I have ever had in the 33 years that I have been going into the park.  This was also my first sighting ever of a Panther anywhere in the U.S.  This of course is Christine's first sighting too!!

After winding down from the excitement of seeing our first FLORIDA PANTHER we were able to look for some shorebirds.  We did not see as many shorebirds as we could have wished for but, we did see a few species.  These included, Greater Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plover, Semi-palmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandpiper and  Killdeer.  Not many species but better than nothing.

We left the shorebird area and went to the main park visitor center and told one of the Park Rangers about our Panther sighting.  We also wrote our sighting in one of the park's sightings book.

Next we traveled up to the Kendall area to look for the  SMOOTH-BILLED ANI nest that I found last week.  This was the first time that Christine was able to see the nest.  Four of the young anis were already out of the nest and being fed in a tree about 2 houses down from where the nest tree is located.  I think there might be one or two more young birds still in the nest.  So the total could be as high as 6 young anis.

We then went to a friends house and saw some RED-WHISKERED BULBULS. These are the same birds that I mentioned in my last report.  There are two immature and two adult bulbuls in this area. We had good looks at one of the immature birds.

We ended the day with 47 species, which is not too bad for a short day.  Listed below are some of the better birds we had this day.

Barn Owl ( nesting )
Monk Parakeet
White-crowned Pigeon
Smooth-billed Ani ( nesting )
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Gray Kingbird
Cave Swallow ( West Indies Race )

                                 August 31, 1999

Out today with Brian Ettling, who works as a Tour Guide on the back country boat in Flamingo, Everglades National Park Florida.  Brian is a fairly new birder with lots of enthusiasm for birding.  Brian wanted  to see some of the Miami specialties and any other birds that would be new to him.

We started from Homestead Florida at 7a.m. and birded until 3:30 p.m. The first new bird for Brian was MONK PARAKEET, these birds we had at an electric sub-station in Homestead, located on s.w. 248 st. and about s.w. 130 ave. on the north side of s.w. 248 st.  There is a nice colony here of Monk Parakeets which have been nesting here for years.

After getting our fill of Monk Parakeet, we headed up to the Kendall area in search of the SMOOTH-BILLED ANIS that I have seen for the last two weeks.  These birds now have fledged young which have moved out of the nest tree to a nearby tree.  Here is where the flock of 7 Anis come and feed the 5 or so juvenile Anis.  In this group of 7 there appears to be 2 immature from a previous brood which all help to feed this next brood of juveniles.  This makes a total of about a dozen Smooth-billed Anis which is really nice to see.  While looking at the Anis we had a flock of about 2 dozen WHITE-WINGED PARAKEETS that flew over our heads, plus a pair of ORANGE-WINGED AMAZONS.  I believe that they are roosting near by, I will have to check  more on this.

While driving away from where the Anis were, we had a pair of HILL MYNA feeding in a fruiting  tree that I'm not familiar with.  These we had great looks at. From here we traveled to another area of Kendall in search of RED-WHISKERED BULBUL, these we found in short order, we had about 3 adults and 2 immature.

Next we traveled to Art and Betty Furchgot's house to look for and find YELLOW-CHEVERONED PARAKEET.  We found these birds down the road from the Furchgot's house feeding on Mangos in a Mango Tree.  We also had some more Monk Parakeets and a WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON here.  I have mentioned Art and Betty's house in the two previous reports, the location of their house is 6901 s.w. 96th. street located in Miami.

Next we wanted to get better views of White-winged Parakeet which we only had fly overs earlier in the morning.  These we found in Coral Cables very quickly.  While we were looking at the White-winged Parakeets I heard a SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE singing it's beautiful song.  I told Brian to hurry down the road to where we found the birds feeding in some nearby trees.  They sang for a couple of more times for us.  We then went back to where the White-winged Parakeets were, here we spotted some Chimney Swifts over head which was another lifer for Brian.

When then went to the Opa Locka Airport to look for BURROWING OWL, with very little effort we located 6 different Owls which we had scope views of.  Another lifer for Brian.

It was now time to get a quick bite to eat, after which we went and birded A.D. Doug Barne's Park.  This is a great little park and an oasis sitting in a sea of suburbia.  Here the migrants have some place to feed and rest on their long journey south.  We were looking for any new birds that we would come across for Brian's list.  New birds for Brian were an adult Male Hooded Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher ( I think Brian wanted better looks at this one. ) and a female CHUCK-WILLS-WIDOW.

We now had to head back to Homestead so that Brian could meet his girl friend for a ride back to Flamingo.

Below is a total lists of species seen today.
Anhinga Eastern Kingbird
Tricolored Heron CAVE SWALLOW ( West Indies Race)
Cattle Egret Barn Swallow
Green Heron Blue Jay
Turkey Vulture Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Osprey Northern Mockingbird
Common Moorhen Loggerhead Shrike
Killdeer European Starling
Rock Dove Yellow-throated Vireo
White-winged Dove Yellow-throated Warbler
Mourning Dove Prairie Warbler
MONK PARAKEET Black-and-white Warbler
Barn Owl ( on nest ) Summer Tanager
Common Nighthawk Northern Cardinal
CHUCK-WILLS-WIDOW Red-winged Blackbird
Chimney Swift Eastern Meadowlark
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Boat-tailed Grackle
Red-bellied Woodpecker Common Grackle
Great Crested Flycatcher House Sparrow

Brian ended up with 12 lifers!!  We had a total of 58 species for the day.