Back in April I met up with Shelley Rutkin, at Dagny Johnson Hammock State Park. She had just found the Mangrove Cuckoo and I was trying desperately, to see one. As luck would have it, We never refound that cuckoo but I did find something much better. I found out about a pair of birding guides named Angel and Mariel, whose company is called “Nature is Awesome”.
Fast forward a few months, I began seeing reports of the 3 birds I had yet to see in Florida. Mangrove Cuckoo, Shiny Cowbird and Antillean Nighthawk. Not having enough time to go for another week, I decided to break down and use a guide, something I very seldom do.
I only had 48 hours for this trip and needed their help.
I arrived at Fort Lauderdale Airport at 10:30am, was met by Mariel and Angel and off we went. Before the sun set I had all three life birds.
With Angel and Mariel, you can cover lots of ground, without wasting time. They know their way around Miami and surrounding area.
On this trip the heat and humidity played havoc with my camera (focusing was wonky) but I did manage to get quite a few reasonable images. Daytime temps were hovering at about 36.8C (98F) and the humidity made it feel like 40C (104F).
#695 – Mangrove Cuckoo
#696 – Shiny Cowbird
#697 – Antillean Nighthawk
The next day we spent an enjoyable day bird watching, no pressure, no time constraints, just a fun day.
First stop, Dolphin Mall ,a place known to me, it is one of the easiest places to see a Purple Swamphen. I wanted to improve my image of this species.
Next stop was Loxahatchee NWR to see the Smooth-billed Ani pair. We did see the birds but at a distance.
The image below was taken on one of my previous trips in January 2015 of a bird found on Snake Road.
Loxahatchee was great spot for insects.
Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers, were everywhere, they are colorful, large but toxic to most predators, so aren’t really afraid of much.
Very little water meant most of the dragonflies were congregated near the few available pools.
The odd butterfly could be found.
Tropical Checkered Skipper
Quite a few Snail Kites flew over….
This poor individual was being harassed by a Red-winged Blackbird. The blackbird actually landed on the Kite’s, back, was pecking at him….very cool to see.
Southern Cricket Frogs could be heard but even with a 600mm lens getting good photos was tough.
My first good photo of a 9-Banded Armadillo
There were very few biting bugs but this 3/4 inch Black Horse Fly did manage to get me once.
We ended a great day with awesome looks at a couple local Miami rarities.
Nutmeg Mannikin, which is only countable for my list if seen in California, but a lovely little bird. Thanks so much, Toe’s.
If you are in the south Miami, Key’s, Everglades area, and you want to see those hard to get birds, give Nature is Awesome a call. They know where the birds are….
Ciao for now