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Friday, February 22, 2013

Florida Trip - Day 1

                Sharon and I decided to take a trip to Florida in hopes of getting a few life birds.  We arrived at West Palm Beach airport and noticed Air Force One was on one of the taxiways. We asked around and found out that Obama was in town for a round of golf. Can you believe that? After picking up our rental car we quickly headed to Green Cay Wetlands Preserve in Boynton Beach. According to eBird reports there was a LaSagra’s Flycatcher hanging around the parking lot, so we figured it would be a fairly easy location to search for this Caribbean species. However, upon arrival we found out the parking area was quite huge.

                We ran into other folks who were also searching for the flycatcher and they told us to look in the area of the maintenance building. After about 15 minutes of waiting we heard the “whit” call that the LaSagra’s make. I was able to spot the movement of the bird among the heavy foliage and got Sharon and another bird group onto the flycatcher. The bird looked to me like a smaller version of an Ash-throated Flycatcher but with even less yellow on the belly.  Mission accomplished. Lifer number one, an hour after touchdown.

La Sagra's Flycatcher
                 After finding the bird in the parking lot we headed into the actual preserve. The feeder outside the HQ was busy entertaining a few Painted Buntings. Two gorgeous males and a nice bright green female made a sporadic appearance. 

Two Painted Buntings
                 The preserve is a remarkable place with a 1.5 mile long boardwalk.  It is a water restoration area for the county of West Palm Beach and by reclaiming the water it provides much needed habitat for local wildlife. Other birds found in the preserve were Purple and Common Gallinule, Anhinga, Wood Stock, White Ibis, White-winged Dove, early Purple Martins, and Boat-tailed Grackles by the hundreds.

Purple Gallinule
                 From Green Cay we headed to another water reclamation area called Wakodahatchee Preserve. This preserve also has a boardwalk about a mile in length. This is an interesting place due to the fact that there are many little islands among the water and all the colony nesting birds are building nests, incubating eggs or already feeding young. Among the nesters were Anhingas, Wood Storks, Double-crested Cormorants, Snowy and Great Egrets, Great Blue, Green, Tri-colored and Little Blue Herons. Walking around the boardwalk we also spotted Roseate Spoonbill and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks but missed the Fulvous Whistling duck that has been present for about a week. 
What the heck is that? A nestling Anhinga

                A large four foot long Iguana was also videoed walking around the grounds. 

                But the best bird was a Neotropic Cormorant tucked in among all the DC Cormorants. Both of these preserves are fantastic places to watch and photograph wildlife. If you are in the Boynton Beach/West Palm beach area I would recommend visiting each of these. And an extra added attraction is they are within a 10 minute drive to Loxahatchee NWR. 

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