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Florida Keys

   

22 June - 13 July 2010

Observers: F. Simpson

 

Introduction


 

Some field work in Florida allowed me the opportunity to observe some of the Caribbean specialities of the Keys, many found here at their only US locations in the southern part of the sunshine state.

 

Several mornings before breakfast I walked to Long Key State Park to look for species such as Mangrove Cuckoo and Black-whiskered Vireo. Most other species were either noted at snorkelling sites or en route along the Overseas Highway (US-1). Ospreys, herons, egrets, pelicans, cormorants and gulls were common around all keys and bridges over the channels. Common birds on roadside wires included Gray Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Common Grackle. This time of year sees an obvious lull in the northward and southward movement of migrants but there was certainly enough interest with many exciting species observed in glorious light, even when cruising along on the truck.

 

It was very hot and sweaty but much cooler in the water where it is like swimming in a tropical fish tank along with Manatee, Leatherback Turtle, and Green Sea Turtle. On land, Key Deer and Racoons were the most obvious mammals.

 

The list below accounts for sightings mainly around the following areas: Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Tea Table Key, Indian Key, Lignumvitae Channel, Lower Matecumbe, Fiesta Key, Long Key, Duck Key, Grassy Key, Vaca Key, Bahia Honda Key, Big Pine Key & No Name Key.

 

Double-crested Cormorant  (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2010 Fraser Simpson

         

 

 

 Highlights


 

Brown Pelican  Magnificent Frigatebird  Great White Heron  Reddish Egret  Tricolored Heron  Little Blue Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  White Ibis  Bald Eagle  Wilson's Plover  Willet  Royal Tern  Least Tern

White-winged Dove  White-crowned Pigeon  Mangrove Cuckoo  Burrowing Owl  Gray Kingbird Black-whiskered Vireo

Fish Crow  Florida Prairie Warbler  Shiny Cowbird  Boat-tailed Grackle

 

 

Literature, references & site guides used


 

    Trip reports were obtained from Travellingbirder.com (the Internet portal to birding travel and birdwatching trip

    reports)

 

    Pranty, B. 2005. A Birder's Guide to Florida. American Birding Association, Inc.

 

    Sibley, D. 2000. The North American Bird Guide. Pica Press.

 

    Sunquist F & M, Beletsky, L. 2008. Travellers' Wildlife Guides: Florida. Chastleton Travel.

 

 

Florida Keys  22 June - 13 July 2010


 

Brown Pelican  Pelecanus occidentalis

Singles around most keys.

4, Seven Mile Bridge, 10/7.

3, Tea Table Relief, 11/7.

Max 40+, Florida Keys Wild Bird Centre, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

 

Brown Pelican  (Pelecanus occidentalis)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Magnificent Frigatebird  Fregata magnificens

Singles and pairs over most keys and channels.

Max 4, Seven Mile Bridge/Moser Channel, 10/7.

Noted over Midway Cafe on several dates while stopping for an iced tropical machiato.

 

Double-crested Cormorant  Phalacrocorax auritus

Common around all keys and channels.

160, Long Key Channel, 25/6.

123, Long Key Channel, 9/7.

46, Duck Key, 12/7.

Up to 34 daily at Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

 

Double-crested Cormorant  (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Anhinga  Anhinga anhinga

1, on the mainland south of Miami, 13/7.

Not seen in the keys.

 

Great White Heron  Ardea herodias

White morphs: common with singles around most keys, channels & mangrove pools.

6, Conch Key, 12/7.

Max 17, Florida Keys Wild Bird Centre, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

Dark morphs: scarce, noted at Seven Mile Bridge and Bahia Honda State Park.

 

Great Egret  Ardea alba

Common around most keys, channels & mangrove pools.

Max 12, Florida Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

Great Egret  (Ardea alba)  2010 Fraser Simpson Great Egret  (Ardea alba)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Snowy Egret  Egretta thula

Common around most keys, channels & mangrove pools.

5, past Keys Marine Lab, Long Key, 2/7.

Max 33, Florida Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

 

Snowy Egret  (Egretta thula)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Reddish Egret  Egretta rufecens

Scarce; three individuals seen in the Middle Keys.

 

Tricolored Heron  Egretta tricolor

Daily over Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

Singles noted at several other locations including Long Key State Park.

 

Little Blue Heron  Egretta caerulea

Scarce; observed in channels and passing Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

 

Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis

6, on the golf course of Sombrero Country Club, Marathon, Vaca Key.

3, Marathon Airport, Vaca Key, 12/7.

 

Green Heron  Butorides virescens

Common in all mangrove areas.

Regularly observed at Keys Marine Lab, Zane Grey Creek, and Long Key State Park.

Nest with sitting female in mangroves at Founders Park Marina, Plantation Key.

 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  Nyctanassa violacea

One or two seen on most visits to Long Key State Park, Long Key.

Juv, in mangroves while kayaking on gulf side of Long Key, 29/6.

 

White Ibis  Eudocimus albus

Common in small numbers around most keys, channels & mangrove pools.

Daily over the Keys Marine Lab, Long Key; flocks of up to seven birds.

12, on the golf course of Sombrero Country Club, Marathon, Vaca Key.

Max 23, Florida Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

 

White Ibis  (Eudocimus albus)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Turkey Vulture  Cathartes aura

Singles or pairs noted over most keys.

Max 35, over Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

Turkey Vulture  (Cathartes aura)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Black Vulture  Coragyps atratus

Max 12, over Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

Not observed anywhere else in the keys.

Black Vulture  (Coragyps atratus)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Cooper's Hawk  Accipiter cooperii

1, Layton, Long Key, 12/7.

 

Short-tailed Hawk  Buteo brachyurus

2, dark morphs, drifted slowly SW over Keys Marine Lab, Long Key, 11/7.

 

Bald Eagle  Haliaeetus leucocephalus

2nd cy, Lower Matecumbe Key, 30/6.

 

Osprey  Pandion haliaetus

Probably saw more Ospreys in three weeks here than in my whole birding lifetime so far!

Observed around most keys, channels & mangrove pools.

Daily in the bay at Keys Marine Lab and Lower Matecumbe Key.

Max 3, Seven Mile Bridge/Moser Channel, 10/7.

 

American Golden Plover  Pluvialis dominica

1, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 4/7.

 

Wilson's Plover  Charadrius wilsonia

Noted in muddy pools at Marathon Airport, Vaca Key.

 

Killdeer  Charadrius vociferus

Max 6, Founders Park, Plantation.

Heard after dark over Big Pine Key, 9/7.

 

Black-necked Stilt  Himantopus mexicanus

1, in shallow mud mangrove pool, Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, Key Largo, 11/7.

 

Willet  Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

1, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 4/7.

A few present throughout on Lower Matecumbe Key.

 

Spotted Sandpiper  Actitis macularia

1, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 11/7.

 

Whimbrel  Numenius phaepus

2, Lower Matecumbe Key, 11/7.

 

Ruddy Turnstone  Arenaria interpres

4, Lower Matecumbe Key, 11/7.

 

Dunlin  Calidris alpina

6+, Lower Matecumbe Key, 11/7.

 

Short-billed Dowitcher  Limnodromus griseus

1, Missouri Ohio Channel, 9/7.

 

Laughing Gull  Larus atricilla

Common on all keys; up to 12 around Keys Marine Lab, Long Key throughout.

Max 40, Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, Tavernier, 11/7.

 

Laughing Gull  (Larus atricilla)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Royal Tern  Sterna maxima

Singles or pairs seen on most keys.

One on the buoys most days at Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

 

Sandwich Tern  Sterna sandvicensis

2, Key West, 10/7.

 

Least Tern  Sterna antillarum

Daily over Keys Marine Lab, Long Key; up to three on the buoys most days at Keys Marine Lab.

Max of 30+, Bahia Honda State Park, 9/7.

 

Mourning Dove  Zenaida macroura

Common on all keys.

Max 6, Publix, Marathon, Vaca Key, 12/7.

 

White-winged Dove  Zenaida asiatica

Scarce; a few individuals noted in less disturbed areas.

1, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 4/7.

 

Eurasian Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto

Abundant on all keys.

 

Common Ground Dove  Columbina passerina

Noted on most keys.

At least 10+, Zane Grey Creek-Layton, Long Key, 11/7.

Pair nesting, Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

Sonogram of Common Ground Dove song

Common Ground Dove: Sonogram (c1 coo/sec) of territorial song of a male in hammock scrub.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 48.0'' N  80 48' 58.4'' W

13 July 2010, 0834h  [File name: commongrounddove0713083447ecut]

    Common Ground Dove

Feral Pigeon  Columba livia

Small numbers noted in urban areas on most keys.

 

White-crowned Pigeon  Columba leucocephala

Common on all keys; regular movements of birds between hammocks and mangrove areas, e.g. 33 NE in 60 mins past Keys Marine Lab.

Max flock of 7 over Keys Marine Lab, Long Key.

Observed perched in Long Key State Park.

 

White-crowned Pigeon  (Columba leucocephala)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Mangrove Cuckoo  Coccyzus minor

Only seen twice in mangroves at Snake Creek, Plantation Key and in Long Key State Park, Long Key.

 

Burrowing Owl  Athene cunicularia

1, on the golf course of Sombrero Country Club, Marathon, Vaca Key.

 

Belted Kingfisher  Ceryle alcyon

1, seen while kayacking along mangroves of Florida Bay, north side of Long Key, 29/6.

1, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 13/7.

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker  Melanerpes carolinus

Seen along Overseas Highway/US-1 on most keys. Noted in most areas of mangroves.

Max 7, Founders Park, Plantation Key.

Sonogram of Red-bellied Woodpecker alarm call

Red-bellied Woodpecker: Sonogram of alarm calls in hammock scrub.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 54.1'' N  80 49' 23.4'' W

13 July 2010, 0902h  [File name: redbelliedwoodpecker0713090258ecut]

    Red-bellied Woodpecker

Great Crested Flycatcher  Myiarchus crinitus

Observed several times on roadside wires on Lower Matecumbe Key.

 

Gray Kingbird  Tyrannus dominicensis

Common along Overseas Highway/US-1 on most keys.

Present in all mangrove areas. Agressive species, chasing everthing from Mockingbirds to Turkey Vultures.

 

Gray Kingbird  (Tyrannus dominicensis)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Eastern Kingbird  Tyrannus tyrannus

1, on the mainland south of Miami, 13/7.

Not seen in the keys.

 

Black-whiskered Vireo  Vireo altiloquus

At least 4 singing males heard on most visits to Long Key State Park, Long Key.

Sonogram of Black-whiskered Vireo song

Black-whiskered Vireo: Sonogram of territorial song from flooded mangroves.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 49.3'' N  80 49' 18.2'' W

5 July 2010, 0850h  [File name: blackwhiskeredvireo0705085029ecut]

    Black-whiskered Vireo

Fish Crow  Corvus ossifragus

4, along US-1 on the edge of Everglades National Park, 13/7.

 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  Stelgidopteryx serripennis

4, SW along Seven Mile Bridge, 10/7. Probable migrants.

 

Northern Mockingbird  Mimus polyglottos

Common along Overseas Highway/US-1 on most keys. Present in all urban areas. Two singing males close to Keys Marine Lab.

Sonogram of Northern Mockingbird song

Northern Mockingbird: Sonogram of territorial song from the top of a very tall tree along US-1.

Layton, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 49' 29.6'' N  80 48' 51.7'' W

11 July 2010, 0735h  [File name: northernmockingbird0711073556ecut]

    Northern Mockingbird

Sonogram of Northern Mockingbird song

 

European Starling  Sturnus vulgaris

Scarce; one or two noted on a few keys.

Max 10, Founders Park, Plantation Key.

 

Common Myna  Acridotheres tristis

Noted on several keys including Windley Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Long Key, and Vaca Key.

 

Florida Prairie Warbler  Dendroica discolor paludicola

2, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 11/7.

Sonogram of Florida Prairie Warbler call

Florida Prairie Warber: Sonogram of calls from a male feeding along the edge of mangroves.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 53.5'' N  80 49' 22.2'' W

11 July 2010, 0819h  [File name: prairiewarbler0711081957son]

    Florida Prairie Warbler

Northern Cardinal  Cardinalis cardinalis

Observed on most keys, flying over the Overseas Highway/US-1.

Observed well in several mangrove areas.

Sonogram of Northern Cardinal song

Northern Cardinal: Sonogram of territorial/advertising song of male in hammock scrub.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 45.4'' N  80 48' 58.2'' W

5 July 2010, 0918h  [File name: northerncardinal0705091849ecut]

    Northern Cardinal

Sonogram of Northern Cardinal calls

Northern Cardinal: Sonogram of calls from a female.  

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 45.4'' N  80 48' 58.2'' W

13 July 2010, 0817h  [File name: northerncardinal0713081705ecut]

    Northern Cardinal

Brown-headed Cowbird  Molothrus ater

3, Lower Matecumbe Key, 7/7.

 

Shiny Cowbird  Molothrus bonariensis

1, Lower Matecumbe Key, 7/7.

 

Red-winged Blackbird  Agelaius phoeniceus

Common in all mangrove areas.

B/4, b/4, Long Key State Park, Long Key, 4/7.

Sonogram of Red-winged Blackbird song

Red-winged Blackbird: Sonogram of territorial/advertising song of male in hammock scrub.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 50.3'' N  80 49' 05.7'' W

5 July 2010, 0925h  [File name: redwingedblackbird0705092550ecut]

    Red-winged Blackbird

Sonogram of a Red-winged Blackbird brood calls

Red-winged Blackbird: Sonogram of calls from a fledged brood in mangroves.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 45.9'' N  80 48' 58.4'' W

5 July 2010, 0911h  [File name: redwingedblackbird0705091123ecut]

    Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle  Quiscalus quiscula

Common in all urban and mangrove areas.

Max, 30+, Layton, Long Key, 11/7.

Sonogram of Common Grackle song

Common Grackle: Sonogram of territorial/advertising song of male in garden close to US-1. Sounds like a rusty gate being quickly opened.

Layton, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 49' 21.6'' N  80 48' 51.7'' W

11 July 2010, 0731h  [File name: commongrackle0711073106ecut]

    Common Grackle

Sonogram of Common Grackle calls

Common Grackle: Sonogram of calls from a small party in hammock scrub. Lower-pictched and harder than the calls of Red-winged Blackbird.

Long Key State Park, Long Key, Florida, United States  24 48' 54.1'' N  80 49' 23.4'' W

11 July 2010, 0858h  [File name: commongrackle0713085849ecut]

    Common Grackle

Common Grackle  (Quiscalus quiscula)  2010 Fraser Simpson

 

Boat-tailed Grackle  Quiscalus major

Abundant on the mainland south of Miami.

Not observed in the keys.

 

 

   

   Sunset over Florida Bay at Keys Marine Lab  2010 Fraser Simpson

All photographs 2010  F. S. Simpson

Fraser's Birding Website  fssbirding.org.uk

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