I have been super busy birding here in Florida and helping Anna Fasoli with her Crested Caracara surveys so I dont really have much time to post. All of the photos I have taken so far can be seen at a Picasa Web Album I created for the trip at this link so I hope those can hold everyone over till I have more time to write proper posts about the cool things I have been seeing.
I flew into Miami on December 28th, but plane delays didn’t get me there till dark so Anna and I spent the next day birding around Miami. I picked up Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Myna, Monk Parakeet, Mitred Parakeet, and Snail Kite as lifers! Other highlights from birding around Miami were a dark morph Short-tailed Hawk I spotted soaring over A. D. Barnes Park; a very photogenic Peregrine Falcon at Crandon Park beach; and loads of Loggerhead Shrikes, which I love seeing. Anna and I drove up to the Buck Island Ranch near Lake Placid, FL where Anna lives and works.
Anna and I have been going out each day to search for nesting Crested Caracaras in Highlands, Okeechobee, and Martin counties. Anna is working for Virginia Tech and the goal of the project is to see where caracaras are nesting to see how they will be impacted by the future development in the area. Caracaras need ranchland with scattered palms. They rely on carrion mostly but also kill their own prey. Caracaras nest in Cabbage Palms. A lot of the ranchland down here (in the heart of the Crested Caracara’s range) is potentially going to be converted to sugarcane, for ethanol production. If this happens, there were be a severe decrease in the amount of suitable habitat for the Endangered caracaras. When Anna and I go out to search for caracaras there are loads of other awesome species around too, such as a group of three adult male Scissor-tailed Flycatchers we found all perched on a wire together; lots of herons and egrets; and we have so far seen 14 different species of diurnal raptors!
Below are a few of my favorite photos that I have taken so far. I will try to get more posts up soon, but until then, feel free to check out my photo album. By the way, my year list for 2011 is at 73 so far, with Barred Owl (photo below) my first species of 2011!