Courtesy of James P. Smith
The Birdfinders 2010 winter trip to Central and Southern Florida was a resounding success. Beginning our tour loop in Orlando, we covered 2330 miles and soon caught up with a number of long staying rarities such as Red-footed Booby and La Sagra's Flycatcher. We did especially well in finding most of the countable exotics present in Florida including Monk Parakeet, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Spot-breasted Oriole and Common Myna, as well as 'currently' non-countable Yellow-chevroned, Black-hooded and Blue-crowned Parakeets.
Stragglers from more northern climes included White-winged Scoter, Harlequin Duck, and Glaucous Gull, all of which were new to the tour list. These birds could be enjoyed amidst a fine selection of key Florida birds, many difficult or impossible to see anywhere else in the USA: Brown and Masked Boobies, Wood Stork, Snail Kite, Short-tailed Hawk (10 seen), Limpkin, Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, White-crowned Pigeon, Florida Scrub-Jay and Shiny Cowbird (five together at Corkscrew Sanctuary). We also tallied no less than twelve species of North American warbler and saw the arrival of the first Purple Martins of the spring.
Non-avian highlights included West Indian Manatee, American Alligator and American Crocodile (rare).
Although the locals could be heard complaining about the cooler than average temperatures we enjoyed generally excellent weather and some welcome Florida sunshine.
Special thanks go to Ron and Lynne Demaine, Graham Walshe and William Webb for helping to make to the tour so enjoyable.
James P. Smith