Back from Florida….

Well I am back from Florida. I met up with two friends of mine yesterday in Lake Placid and we drove straight back home to Pennsylvania and pulled into my driveway at noon today.

I spent 12 days down in the Sunshine State birding and it was a ton of fun. Anna and I started off the trip by birding around the Miami area and I finished 2010 with 463 species of birds. Then we spent the rest of my trip birding around the Lake Placid region of Florida.  I ended up seeing 137 species of birds on this trip down to Florida, 28 of which I had never seen in Florida before!

Limpkin - One of my favorite Florida birds! (Photo taken on 1/8/11)

Anna lives on the Buck Island Ranch near Lake Placid. This ranch is home to the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center. (For more information about the ranch, visit this link.) Everyday, her and I would go out searching for Crested Caracaras on the ranch or in nearby counties. We would also try to squeeze in some birding on the side, and often stumbled upon cool birds when we were out looking for caracaras. On January 5th, we were able to participate in the Avon Park Christmas Bird Count, where we found 87 species of birds in one day!

It was awesome getting to go out and trying to find caracaras and then just sit in the truck and watch them in their natural habitat. I loved to get to see the caracaras interacting with each other and with other bird species. During my trip, Anna and I found at least 3 nesting locations and saw the adult caracaras copulating and sometimes carrying nesting material. We also discovered a massive roost location, where one night we counted at least 32 different Crested Caracaras flying in to, to roost with the Turkey and Black Vultures.

Crested Caracara; adult

Overall, it was a great trip and I cant wait to go back! I am super jealous that Anna gets to spend the entire rest of the winter there and the first part of the spring. But I am sure I will finds ways to have fun back here in Pennsylvania till I leave for South Africa on the 18th. My 2011 year list is at 111 so far, so I think I will spend the next few days going out and trying to find some new year birds. I dont even have Dark-eyed Junco for the year yet!

To check out all the photos I took down in Florida, visit this link to my web album!