Thursday, September 20, 2012

Florida Keys fieldwork - first day on Summerland

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

I'm interrupting the current backlog/relay of honeymoon birding posts with some up-to-date news. Currently on Summerland Key in Florida again with work I arrived late last night during an impressive electrical storm. This morning there appeared to be quite a few migrant warblers around (including Yellow, Yellow-throated, Prothonotary, Blackburnian and Prairie) and a light stream of Cliff and Barn Swallows moving southwest. Magnificent Frigatebird and Laughing Gull drifted over the field station with a Double-crested Cormorant in the quay. A Gray Kingbird appeared to squaring up to a Red-bellied Woodpecker on a nearby palm. After getting some food and supplies (and necessary extras such as Monster No Carb and chilli hot sauce) we kayaked along the mangroves on the south-west corner of Summerland Key checking all the roots for the orange sea squirt Ecteinascidia turbinate (food source for the flatworm). Several good birds were seen and quietly paddling in a kayak seems to allow a close approach to many species. Two specialities of the Keys were seen – Black-whiskered Vireo and White-crowned Pigeon – as well as Osprey, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Spotted Sandpiper, Royal Tern, and Cardinal.

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