Florida

20th April 1988 - 28th April 1988.

20th April.

A flight from Tucson, Arizona to Orlando, Florida, to continue our trip to record sounds for a BBC series called 'Land of the Eagle', for the programme on swamps. By the time Dave Tombs and I collected our equipment and luggage, and, picked up the hire car at the airport it was early afternoon and we had a long drive to reach the hotel in the Everglades National Park.

Driving south the only birds we saw were 4 Cattle Egrets and a Red-winged Blacbird, by the time we reached the entrance to the park it was getting dark and we found the gates closed and no-one around, we hadn't been told that the park closed at night!

We drove back to the last town we had driven through called Homestead, there was only one place open which had rooms for rent, so we went in, the clerk seemed surprised to see us and told us that this was a dormitory town for agricultural workers and not a safe place to stay! Also, that the only other accommodation would be back in Miami. He had a room, so we decided to stay, unloaded everything from the car and barricaded the door. There was lots of noise outside for a while, but not close and although we didn't get much sleep we survived the night.

New species for me will be in bold.

21st April.

We left early in the morning and while travelling through farmland, stopped to see a Gopher Tortoise at the side of the road.

Entering Everglades Nationa Park we drove straight to our hotel at Flamingo, where the manager was shocked to learn we had spent the night in Homestead.

Then we spent the rest of the day exploring the park, seeing American Crows, 2 Swallow-tailed Kites, 2 Eastern Kingbirds, 4 Florida Red-bellied Turtles, 8 American Alligators, 3 Florida Softshells, we saw

6 Anhingas and two nests with 7 chicks, 4 Little Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, 6 Great Blue Herons and a white phase bird, an American Purple Gallinule, 2 Common Yellowthroats and in the pools the commonest fish was Florida Gar.

We also saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, 2 Turkey Vultures, 2 Northern Cardinals, a Gray Catbird, 3 Brown Anoles, a Scrub Lizard, lots of Cattle Egrets, Bobolinks, 4 Eastern Meadowlarks, Boat-tailed Grackles, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a White Ibis, and towards evening 26 Nighthawks, heard a Chuck-wills-widow and 2 Barred Owls, and saw several Fireflies.

 

Swallow-tailed Kite

Everglades with Anhinga

American Alligator

Florida Softshell

Anhinga

Anhinga, more photos here.

22nd April.

A day spent around Flamingo, firstly seeing about 50 Nighthawks flying around the hotel before moving north, we explored the coast and harbour seeing Killdeers, Eastern Meadowlarks, Cattle Egrets, 3 Ospreys, a Northern Mockingbird, Starlings, American Crows, 2 Great Crested Flycatchers, 4 Gray Catbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Cardinals, Common Yellowthroats, a Blue Jay, Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, American Alligators, a Yellow Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackles, a Least Bittern, 2 White-eyed Vireos, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 

2 Short-tailed Hawks, 7 Turkey Vultures, a Swallow-tailed Kite, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, a Black-whiskered Vireo, 11 Caspian Terns, 4 American Black Vultures, American Coot, 6 Tricolored Herons, 4 Double-crested Cormorants, 4 Forster's Terns, 3 Wood Storks, a Red-breasted Merganser, 16 Lesser Yellowlegs, Laughing Gulls, 6 Brown Pelicans, Great White Egrets, an American Crocodile and a Common Flicker.

Later, we found nearby Eco Pond, where we saw White Ibises, Brown-headed Cowbirds, 8 Roseate Spoonbills, Moorhens, a Snowy Egret, a Sora Rail, 3 Green Herons, an Indigo Bunting, a White-crowned Pigeon and 2 Black Skimmers. More photos here.

American Black Vultures

Brown Pelican

Roseate Spoonbills

White Ibis

Double-crested Cormorant

Snowy Egret

Green Heron

Sora

White-crowned Pigeon

23rd April.

An early morning return to Eco Pond where there were 2 Least Bitterns, 6 Green Herons, 4 Tricolored Herons, 2 Snowy Egrets, around 50 White Ibises, 12 Roseate Spoonbills, a Sora, about 20 Moorhens, an American Purple Gallinule, 4 American Coot, Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, 2 Common Yellowthroats, White-eyed Vireos, 2 White-crowned Pigeons, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks, Cattle Egrets, Laughing Gulls, 4 American Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures and 2 Hispid Cotton Rats.

In the area around Flamingo we also saw 7 Brown Pelicans, 2 Double-crested Cormorants, American Crows, a Great Crested Flycatcher, 3 Ospreys, 2 Swallow-tailed Kites, a Marsh Rabbit, Starlings, 3 Northern Cardinals, a Raccoon, a Florida Reef Gecko and a Squirrel Treefrog.

White Ibises at Eco Pond.

American Black Vulture

Green Heron

Moorhen

Sora

24th April.

Dave started the day by recording Laughing Gulls near the hotel, photo right, there were a lot more birds in the bay and we spent sometime viewing them along the coast, seeing around 40 Semipalmated Sandpipers, c30 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Short-billed Dowitchers, 3 Eastern Willets, 2 Black-necked Stilts, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Sandpiper, 4 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Wilson's Plovers, 2 Piping Plovers, c14 Dunlin, a Marbled Godwit, c30 Least Sandpipers, 9 Grey Plovers, c10 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone and 6 Knot.

Also 4 Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, Cattle Egrets, White Ibises, 

2 Ospreys, c40 Brown Pelicans, 2 Wood Storks, American Crows, 4 Red-shouldered Hawks, a Swallow-tailed Kite, 2 Tricolored Herons, a Snowy Egret, 7 Great Blue Herons, a Reddish Egret, 2 Little Blue Herons, 4 Double-crested Cormorants, c16 Blue-winged Teal, 4 Mottled Ducks, an American Herring Gull, 3 Caspian Terns, 10 Least Terns, a Forster's Tern, 7 Black Skimmers, a Prairie Warbler, a White-eyed Vireo, Northern Cardinals, 2 Grey Kingbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, a Common Flicker and 4 Nighthawks. 

Also, 2 Marsh Rabbits, a Green Anole and 4 Golden-silk Spiders.

Laughing Gull

Golden-silk Spider

Red-shouldered Hawk

25th April.

Today we were sound recording in several places in the park, then a boat trip from Flamingo to Frank Key in Florida Bay, seeing 13 American Black Vultures, 2 Grey Kingbirds, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 White-crowned Pigeons, Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelicans, White Ibises, Double-crested Cormorants, Great White Egrets, Great Blue Herons, 4 Ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, Turkey Vultures, about 80 Eastern Willets, 2 Great Crested Flycatchers, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles, 4 Spotted Sandpipers, a Little Blue Heron, a Nighthawk and an Indo-Pacific Gecko.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: White phase Great Blue Heron. 

26th April.

A brief look around the park seeing American Black and Turkey Vultures, Laughing Gulls, Boat-tailed Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, 3 Marsh Rabbits, 2 Swallow-tailed Kites, Northern Cardinals and Common Flickers.

Then we headed north of the Everglades National Park to the Sawgrass Prairie and took a ride on an Airboat across the river of grass, these boats are incredibly loud and it's a wonder we saw anything, but I guess the birds get used to it, we saw Great Blue Herons, Moorhens, 6 Turkey Vultures, 12 Anhingas, Boat-tailed Grackles, at least 10 Mottled Ducks, 2 Least Bitterns, 6+ Little Blue Herons, Great White Egrets and a 

Snail Kite.

A little way west we stopped to walk along the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, which extends out into the Cypress swamp for about half a mile, it wasn't the best time of day, but we saw 2 Swallow-tailed Kites, 

3 Green Anoles, a Striped Crayfish Snake, a Mud Snake, a Mole Skink and 2 Alligators.

We made recordings at various points along the walk, not seeing anyone else until we got to the very end, and, there was Chris Packham, on a day out from filming for the BBC, on a different programme to ours and in search of a Snail Kite.

Returning to the car we continued west to where a canal crosses the road, here we saw a flock of around 140 Black Skimmers at rest, also in the area another Swallow-tailed Kite, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Turkey Vultures and a Gray Kingbird.

We returned to Big Cypress Bend and found a narrow road leading into the Cypress swamp, hoping that it lead to a quite area to record in. It did, but there was little sound, except insects, as we got out of the car we were bombarded by biting flies, big and small, Dave quickly put the microphone on the car roof, and shut the door, the flies continued to attack the car windows for ages. 

We had parked by a large pool in the swamp and soon there was the eerie, echoing sounds of Alligators roaring and a few birds calling, which made for a very atmospheric recording, we saw 6 Alligators, 4 Great Crested Flycatchers, 4 Northern Cardinals and a Tufted Titmouse.

 

Photos: Sawgrass Prairie and Little Blue Heron.

Black Skimmers

27th April.

Today we left Flamingo and the Everglades National Park, we had recorded most of what we wanted and the misquitos were beginning to be a problem.

The only sounds that we were short of was of an egret colony, so we travelled to the North Everglades, through Everglade City to Chokoloskee and hired a boat to take us to a colony. That wasn't as easy as we had thought, hiring the boat was not a problem, understanding the boatman and him understanding us was, what language he spoke is still a mystery and it was only with sign language and the aid of the fieldguide that he knew where we wanted to go.

The boat was very powerful, and, we had a bumpy, high-speed journey south through the creeks, after an hour or so we reached Roger's River Bay where we were surrounded by egret nests, just what we wanted, there must have been over 400 Great White and Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons, plus at least 10 Great Blue Herons. We also saw at least 12 Ospreys, 4 Royal Terns, 20+ Turkey Vultures, 4 American Crows, a Smooth-billed Ani, Double-crested Cormorants, a Spotted Sandpiper, 3 Purple Martins, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Brown Pelicans, an Anhinga, 4 Mottled Ducks and a Porpoise.

It was an equally speedy, bumpy trip back, near Everglade City we saw 2 Swallow-tailed Kites, then headed north, stopping when there was anything of interest.

On the journey we saw a Swamp Snake, 2 Ospreys, Turkey Vultures, Cattle Egrets, Great White Egrets, lots of Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, 2 Nighthawks, 4 Florida Scrub-jays, 2 Blue Jays, 2 Downy Woodpeckers and 3 Bobwhite Quails.

As we neared Archbold Biological Centre we looked for somewhere to stay, but couldn't find anywhere, so buying some food we parked the car in some pine woods, had our snacks and prepared for a night under the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tricolored Heron. 

28th April.

Waking early we explored the area around Archbold Biological Centre and areas of woodland and farmland to the south, seeing Eastern Towhees, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, White-eyed Vireos, Loggerhead Shrikes, Northern Mockingbirds, in one of the fields we saw a male and a female Wild Turkey, also Eastern Meadowlarks, a Killdeer, 2 Solitary Sandpipers, Great Crested Flycatchers, 2 Eastern Kingbirds, Northern Cardinals, 2 Turkey Vultures, Florida Scrub-jays, 32 American Black Vultures, Mourning Doves, Common Flickers, Boat-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds.

Later we took Hwy 70 east, along the way seeing a Red-shouldered Hawk, Turkey Vultures, 2 Bald Eagles, 4 Great White Egrets, 11 Snowy Egrets, lots of Cattle Egrets, c20 Lesser Yellowlegs, c40 Short-billed Dowitchers, 6 Black-necked Stilts, c10 Least Sandpipers, a Spotted Sandpiper and Purple Martins.

Then we took the road south along the western side of Lake Okeechobee seeing Ring-billed Gulls, Moorhens, Great Blue Herons, 14 Double-crested Cormorants, Cattle Egrets, Boat-tailed Grackles, 2 Fish Crows, a Great White Egret, 3 Glossy Ibises, American Black Vultures, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Cliff Swallows, a White Ibis, a Green Heron, an Osprey, an Anhinga, a Snowy Egret, Turkey Vultures, 2 Tricolored Herons, a Southeastern Five-lined Skink, 3 Mottled Ducks, a White-eyed Vireo, an American Redstart, 2 Bobolinks, 2 Nighthawks, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks and 4 Crested or Northern Caracaras.

From there we drove back to Orlando Airport for an early morning flight to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Eastern Towhee

Boat-tailed Grackle

© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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