Day 5 – Grooved and Smooth

Record digi-shot of Smooth-billed Ani – super scarce in USA

After our incredible day on Dry Tortugas we drove 120 miles to our overnight base in Homestead – between Miami and The Everglades. This morning we started off at a suburban power line easement looking for escapes. It wasn’t long before we found a bunch of Scaly-breasted Munia (last seen in Bharatpur), a Monk Parakeet and, our target bird, Red-whiskered Bulbul. Then it was off to The Everglades and the Gumbo-limbo and Anhinga trails. Highlights included Logger-head Shrike (at the entrance), Great Blue Heron, Black Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk (a rare bird in the US, with an estimated population of under 300 pairs), White-eyed Vireo and Blackpoll Warbler. In conversation the Ranger at the Information Centre mentioned the petrol shortage – what shortage! It was true, when we drove back into town it was Petrol Station madness. Luckily we managed to find a garage with fuel left so filled the tank ready for our journey through Florida into Georgia. The shortage was because biblical storms over South Florida had deposited up to 24 inches of rain in one day – flooding the storage depots. After a bit of mid-day R&R we headed off to the local airport for a spot of late afternoon birding. The best early find was a Burrowing Owl, close to some airport buildings, later a Northern Harrier drifted across the runway. The stake-out for our target bird along the airport fence line proved useless, with the bird being found by another group of birders from Missouri in fields behind us. Two Ani were observed in field-side bushes – incredibly one was Groove-billed (a scarce bird to find in America) – the other was the Smooth-billed, an even rarer bird! Grooved & Smooth in the same Florida bush – it doesn’t get much better than that! The only down side was I’d foolishly left my camera back at the motel so had to attempt a dig-scope record shot.

The Everglades produced some excellent raptors – including Swallow-tailed Kite
and Short-tailed Hawk
Our friends from Missouri – finders of the Anis – a bit of Amish mash!
This entry was posted in Birding.

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