Ash and I have been all over the place in the last month or two. One of those places is Florida. We decided to swing down that direction from New York. It's kinda close, right?
Probably our foremost target was a bird that has been reliable at Markham Park:
The bird, of course, is the long-staying WESTERN SPINDALIS (formerly known as Stripe-headed Tanager). This Code 3 vagrant belongs in the Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Islands, etc. However, they show up in Florida with some regularity and have even bred there.
So we arrived and were primed to see this bird right away... except it didn't happen that way. First, we enjoyed a SHORT-TAILED HAWK that frequented the airspace overhead:
But STILL no spindalis. Were we going to miss this thing? I got distracted by this dragonfly. Although I don't remember the name of this one off the top of my head, it should be easy to ID once I'm around my dragonfly book again:
Then, finally, after a couple of hours, we spotted the spindalis quietly drinking deep within the woods! Once we both got on it, we enjoyed the views through the scope. I pulled out the Kowa digiscoping case for my iPhone 6:
So that was a relief! This was a new ABA bird for Ashley but I had been lucky to see one in 2013 near Key West. However, this was my first male and I can safely say that they are quite stunning!
Another stop, embarrassing as it is, was for the now-countable EGYPTIAN GOOSE. We opted to go to Brian Piccolo Park:
Seeing this established exotic didn't register high on our excitement meter BUT it had to be done:
Probably more exciting was watching this MERLIN chasing after Mourning Doves nearby:
There were lots of other birds like COMMON GALLINULES:
Like before, still no anis to be seen. Instead, we busied ourselves with things like FLORIDA SCRUB-JAYS. Here's one on a snag (left) with a Loggerhead Shrike (right):
You can see with the above jay that it's wearing color bands put on the legs by researchers. Anyway, turns out, this was only my 5th time seeing FLSJs!
As one would expect, FISH CROWS were abundant around the park. Here's one obeying the sign it's on:
The diminutive COMMON GROUND-DOVE can also be found in the area. This one flew by right in front of us and sat up in a palm for a minute:
... you know these aren't too far behind:
We tried to find some Bachman's Sparrows in this habitat but came up empty:
Ok, so that was Florida visit #1. More to come! (Because, yes, like sane people, we drove BACK to Florida shortly thereafter).