Friday, May 29, 2015

Miami To The Dry Tortugas Tour: Pt. I

What has become an annual trip through Miami and the Florida Keys with Tom Obrock is always greatly anticipated for the wildlife that can be hit or miss.


The Brown Bisilisk above (image 1) was photographed at Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) in May 2015.

Our ultimate destination which was Dry Tortugas National Park would be my second visit there. Although an unexpected delay was disruptive to our original plans, Tom and I were able to make a very rewarding multi-day journey which offered observation of several new wildlife species for me.


The Brown Bisilisk above (image 2) was photographed at Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) in May 2015.


The Purple Swamphen above (image 3) was photographed at Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) in May 2015.


The Purple Swamphen above (image 4) was photographed at Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) in May 2015.


The Purple Swamphen above (image 5) was photographed at Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) in May 2015.


The Red-whiskered Bulbul above (image 6) was photographed near Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.

The first stop was Chapel Trail (Sheridan Street Mitigation Bank) where Tom was assured that Purple Swamphen would be seen. Sure enough a handful of the species were observed foraging only to disappear into their habitat. The next target species was Red-whiskered Bulbul which had been a fail on previous trips.


The Mitred Parakeet above (image 7) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Mitred Parakeet above (image 8) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Mitred Parakeet above (image 9) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Mitred Parakeet above (image 10) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Tricolored Heron above (image 11) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.

The wildlife activity at the Baptist Hospital of Miami was expected and enjoyable to observe. This venue should not be confused with West Kendall Baptist Hospital the latter of which significantly lacks wildlife in comparison.


The domestic Mallard x domestic Muscovy Duck hybrid above (image 12) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Green Heron above (image 13) was photographed at Baptist Hospital of Miami in May 2015.


The Spotted Sandpiper above (image 14) was photographed at Everglades National Park in May 2015.


The Osprey above (image 15) was photographed at Everglades National Park in May 2015.


The Prairie Warbler above (image 16) was photographed at Everglades National Park in May 2015.

As a primary objective, we made a trip into Everglades National Park for a sighting of White-tailed Kite. This uncommonly seen species eluded us. To end observations for our first day of the trip, Tom got a good look at a Shiny Cowbird at Flamingo which would become a rare bird alert with its reporting to eBird.


The scene above (image 17) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Mystic above (image 18) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The yoga enthusiast above (image 19) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Monk Skipper above (image 20) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Red-bellied Woodpecker above (image 21) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.

Day two involved an early arrival at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. This park is a magnet for warblers in migration and has hosted an Antillean Short-eared Owl and Bahama Mockingbird in recent years.


The aircraft above (image 22) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Gray Kingbird above (image 23) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Green Iguana above (image 24) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Magnificent Frigatebird above (image 25) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The watercraft above (image 26) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.

Walking the trails at the south end of the fort offered deep shade for comfortable observations of an American Redstart. I was unable to capture an image of the bird even with a very diligent effort.


The Brown Pelican above (image 27) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 28) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The sailboat above (image 29) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The Barn Swallow above (image 30) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The juvenile Bald Eagle above (image 31) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.

In what is becoming many years of wildlife observation, I had not before seen a Laughing Gull harassing a Bald Eagle. This was a very aggressive and relentless effort on the part of the gull.


The juvenile Bald Eagle above (image 32) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The juvenile Bald Eagle harassed by Laughing Gull above (image 33) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.


The juvenile Bald Eagle harassed by Laughing Gull above (image 34) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.

Be sure to see Tom's first report of our trip.


The juvenile Bald Eagle harassed by Laughing Gull above (image 35) was photographed at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in May 2015.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dinner Island Ranch WMA

Well worth the drive from the southwest Florida Gulf beaches is another wildlife venue called Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Area that can occupy your entire day.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 1) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

The observations made at Dinner Island Ranch WMA on 16 May were better than expected, with photo documentation unfortunately not anywhere near representative of that which was seen and heard.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 2) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 3) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 4) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 5) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

The first birds seen after entering the huge wildlife venue were Eastern Meadowlark. They could additionally be heard throughout the WMA. While the Northern Bobwhite was heard in seemingly equal numbers, the elusive species was not seen.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 6) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 7) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 8) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Swallow-tailed Kite above (image 9) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

A pair of Swallow-tailed Kite were observed early and were followed west until they could no longer be seen. A lone Limpkin was observed very close to the roadway, but was not tolerant for a photo op even at a great range.


The Limpkin above (image 10) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The cattle above (image 11) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Eastern Meadowlark above (image 12) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Eastern Meadowlark above (image 13) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

Perhaps the most enjoyable moment was when a Red-shouldered Hawk was observed to carry away what appeared a three foot Black Racer snake. This was an occasion when I was reminded of Frank Constantin telling me of his success by using the car as a blind for photography.


The Eastern Meadowlark above (image 14) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Red-shouldered Hawk above (image 15) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Common Ground Dove above (image 16) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The Cattle Egret above (image 17) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

This trip to Dinner Island Ranch WMA was extremely enjoyable with the venue recommended to you for your potential interest. The cattle were in much larger numbers on this trip to the "working ranch," and had to be prodded out of the way from the middle of the road on occasion.


The cattle above (image 17) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The White-tailed Deer above (image 18) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The White-tailed Deer above (image 19) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.


The White-tailed Deer above (image 20) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

Hunting at this venue is permitted, so you are encouraged to be aware of approved hunt dates.


The Turkey Vulture above (image 21) was photographed at Dinner Island Ranch WMA in May 2015.

Please see my initial report about this venue for additional thoughts and observations.