Bad Weather … Good Birds

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Springtime storms and cool fronts are what birders hope for and we have had both over the past few days.

On Friday we had clear and breezy weather for most of the day and bird activity was light. We still were able to add seven new species to our list as we ticked off some of the more common Florida specials at Bill Baggs State Park and found the La Sagra’s Flycatcher there. (We had seen what we thought was THE bird back in January but were unable to get a photo to confirm our id. This time we still missed the photo but got a good enough look for us to be confident to add the bird to our list.) Later in the day the weather turned windier as we drove over to Everglades National Park. We added Common Myna in Homestead, FL and saw Purple Gallinule along the Anhinga Trail at the park.

Then, all hell broke loose! Wind, rain and more rain pelted us throughout the night and for most of the day on Saturday. We tried valiantly to keep birding through the wet and windy day and managed to add Shiny Cowbird at the Flamingo campground, but most of the birds were smarter than we were and declined to brave the elements. As the day drew to a close the rain slackened and we got our first inkling of what the “drop-in weather” had brought us. The hammocks were jumping with Black-throated Blue, Cape May, Black-throated Green, and other warblers.

A smattering of rain continued through Saturday night but Sunday brought mostly fair weather, although the winds were quite strong, especially as we headed down the Florida Keys. There were birds everywhere. Every little bit of roadside habitat held a warbler or two, or 10 if the conditions were just right. Without really trying we saw a dozen species at a random stop along Highway 1. A five minute walk along the edge of a mangrove swamp yielded eight species of migrants on Key West. The cool front that had brought us all the rain in the Everglades had caused a fallout in the keys!

By the end of the weekend we had managed to bring our total to 509 species … and that’s before we start our trip out to the Dry Tortugas. We are hoping for five or six more birds out there that we might not be able to see elsewhere. Wish us luck.

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