Florida Birding Trip Report

29 March - 11 April 2013

James and Emma Packer

We had wanted to go to Florida for some time, but for various reasons have only just round to it. The trip more than lived up to our expectations with lots of new species for us. The locals were ultra friendly, the birds showed amazingly well and the sites we visited were just fantastic.

Every time I go abroad I find it shocking that foreign nature reserves are far, far better quality than the reserves we have in the UK. I may be slightly biased by living in Somerset where the facilities at every single nature reserve in the county are shamefully poor. Even those reserves funded by the organisation with over 1 million members have a long, long way to go to even approach many of the reserves we birded at in Florida.

Sites Visited

Details of all of these sites can be found at the links provided, or in the guides of the most excellent Great Florida Birding Trail. Whoever's idea this was is a genius.

30 March 2013
The Wakodahatchee Wetlands - Possibly the best wetland reserve I've ever been to. Amazing place, I'm sure it has featured in a dream I once had.
Green Cay Nature Centre and Wetlands - Possibly the second best wetland reserve I've ever been to.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Reserve

31 March 2013
Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area
Joe Overstreet Road
Joe Overstreet landing and Lake Kissimmee
Lori Wilson Park, Cocoa Beach

1 April 2013
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera (Viera Wetlands)

2 April 2013
Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa - a really beautiful and excellent site, possibly under-rated!

3 April 2013
Fort Desoto

4 April 2013
Fort De Soto
Felts Audubon Preserve
Naples Beach and Cambier Park

5 April 2013
Marco Island
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Eagle Lakes Community Park - superb!
Naples Beach and Cambier Park

6 April 2013
Marco Island and Tigertail Beach and Lagoon
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - disappointing!
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

7 April 2013
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
Shark Valley
Ernest Coe Visitor Centre
Anhinga Trail
Lucky Hammock
Cutler Ridge Cave Swallows

8 April 2013
Ernest Coe Visitor Centre
Eco Pond Trail
Flamingo Visitor Centre
Shark Bight Trail
- mosquito city - don't bother.
Anhinga Trail
Lucky Hammock

9 April 2013
Long Key State Park
Bahia Honda State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

10 April 2013
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden - Rip off, don't go here. We only did because of the Western Spindalis.
Indigenous Park Key West

11 April 2013
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden - Only to get satisfactory views of the Spindalis. We sneaked in without paying this time.

12 April 2013
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Castello Hammock Park

We used the Floirda listserve web sites for rare and scarce bird news, but this was fairly unsatisfactory. Few serious birders seem to use it, and the news seemed to be patchy and varying in its quality. I used the Sibley Bird Guide and Peterson iphone app and the Florida Bird Trail guides and a slightly old copy of Bill Pranty's A Birders Guide to Florida.

The Bird List

Great Northern Diver
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Double-crested Cormorant
Northern Gannet
American Bittern
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricoloured Heron
Little Blue Heron
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-heron
Yellow-crowned Night-heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Egyptian Goose
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Muscovy Duck
Wood Duck
Mottled Duck
Northern Shoveler
Blue-winged Teal
Lesser Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Northern Harrier
Snail Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey
American Purple Gallinule
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Grey Plover
Piping Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson's Plover
American Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Snipe
Bonaparte's Gull
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
American Herring Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Forster's Tern
Least Tern
Black Skimmer
Mourning Dove
White-winged Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Common Ground Dove
Feral Pigeon
White-crowned Pigeon
Black-hooded Parakeet
Mangrove Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Burrowing Owl
Eastern Screech Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Grey Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Red-eyed Vireo
Black-whiskered Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
Florida Scrub-Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Purple Martin
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Cave Swallow
Barn Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Grey Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Common Myna
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Black and White Warbler
American Redstart
Swainson's Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Western Spindalis
Summer Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Bachman's Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark
Brown-headed Cowbird
Shiny Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

The Photos

Pied-billed Grebe at Wakodahatchee

Brown Pelican, Merritt Island

Magnificent Frigatebird at Key West

Double-crested Cormorants, including a head shot for the discerning UK birder.

Anhingas - weird birds!

Least Bittern at Green Cay

Great Blue Heron on the Anhinga Trail

Snowy Egret at Fort De Soto

Reddish Egret at Fort De Soto - the bumbling egret!

Tricoloured Heron at Eagle Lakes, Naples

Little Blue Heron in various ages

Green Herons at Merritt Island and Shark Valley

Black-crowned Night Heron at Wakodahatchee

Yellow-crowned Night Heron at Ding Darling

Glossy Ibis at Green Cay

White Ibis at Merritt Island

Roseate Spoonbill at Merritt Island

Wood Stork at Green Cay

Mottled Duck at Green Cay

Female Blue-winged Teal for ID purposes. Easy!

A drake Blue-winged Teal - now they are easy!

Turkey Vulture feeding on a dead Northern Gannet at Merritt Island

Black Vulture - minging!

American Purple Gallinule - what an absolute stunner!

American Coot - much nicer than ours.

Limpkins at Lake Kissimee and Loxahatchee

Sandhill Cranes at Lake Kissimmee

Piping Plover at Merritt Island - rare at this site, so we were lucky to find one here.

Semipalmated Plovers at Tigertail Lagoon

Wilsons Plover at Tigertail Lagoon

Black-necked Stilt at Eco Pond, Everglades

Greater Yellowlegs at Merritt Island

Lesser Yellowlegs at Merritt Island

Solitary Sandpiper at Green Cay

Least Sandpiper at Green Cay

Willet at Fort De Soto

Spotted Sandpiper at Eagle Lakes, Naples

Marbled Godwit at Fort De Soto

Western Sandpiper at Tigertail Lagoon

Short-billed Dowitcher at Fort De Soto

Black-legged Kittiwake at Naples Pier. By far the rarest bird we found, but not that exciting for us. This was the only photo taken on a Compact Camera.

Laughing Gull at Flamingo

Forsters Tern at Fort De Soto

Royal Tern at Fort De Soto

Black Skimmer at Tigertail Lagoon

Mourning Dove at Fort Zachary

White-winged Dove at Castello Hammock Park

White-crowned Pigeon in the grounds of the Ocean Pointes Suites, Tavenier. My excuse for getting the camera out by the pool!

Burrowing Owl - Fantastic little things!

Eastern Screech Owl at Castello Hammock Park

Red-headed Woodpecker at Lake Kissimmee

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Flamingo - very common

Downy Woodpecker at a Park in St. Petersburgh we can't remember the name of!

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at Three Lakes WMA. These were much easier than we expected.

Pileated Woodpecker at Merritt Island

Great Crested Flycatcher at Shark Valley

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Fort Zachary

Blue Jay

Florida Scrub Jay at Merritt Island - the only endemic in Florida.

Grey Catbird at Fort Desoto in the famous Mulberry Bush

Northern Mockingbird at Fort Desoto

Northern Parula - quite common

Cape May Warbler at Long Key State Park

Palm Warbler - by far the most abundant warbler

Prothonotary Warbler at Fort Zachary

Black and White Warbler - We saw many, and each one was a treat!

Ovenbird at Fort Zachary

Louisiana Waterthrush at Indigenous Park

Hooded Warbler at Fort Desoto

Western Spindalis at Key West Botanical Gardens - a nice rare bird in a grotty place

Cardinal - Common everywhere and calls like a rare warbler!

Blue Grosbeak at the Indigenous Park, Key West

Indigo Bunting at Fort Zachary

Painted Bunting at Felts Preserve. Yes, rubbish photo, but the only one I got of a male and they're so unbelievably smart it deserves a place here.

Bachman's Sparrow - Rubbish photo, more to prove that we did see one!

Eastern Meadowlark at Lake Kissimmee

Boat-tailed Grackle

Bronze Cowbird at Eagle Lakes - really crappy photo, but they're not common!

Shiny Cowbird at Flamingo

River Otter at Merritt Island

Sadly the only view we got of a Bobcat, and no, we didn't run over it - someone else did!


All site content, including photos © James Packer