Saturday, March 19, 2016

South Florida - Warblers

In my previous post, I talked about the trip to South Florida my wife and I took to escape the winter doldrums. Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was the number of warblers that we saw there. I was probably stuck on the picture of warm, coastal areas and thinking of gulls and terns and shorebirds to properly consider how many warblers we would see. Sharon at least thought this way and convinced me we were more likely to get use out of our Warbler Guide than the Shorebird Guide. All told we saw 13 warbler species during the week. That's a decent spring haul. What an exciting winter find.

Our first stop, at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, rewarded us with six species including this Palm Warbler that watched us eat lunch.

We also had really nice views of a Black-and-white Warbler feeding. It grabbed several caterpillars near us and ate them. Unfortunately, it was always partially obscured and I couldn't get a good photo. Amazing to watch, nonetheless. We also saw a pretty Black-throated Green Warbler there.  

The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens also rewarded us with six warblers including two ground-loving warblers: Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush. Right near the entrance of the gardens we heard beautiful singing and tracked down this Prairie Warbler.

Warblers were surprising abundant at the Dry Tortugas. There were many Palm Warblers there (no surprise as they seem to be the sparrows of south Florida). But also an American Redstart, some Yellow-rumped Warblers (about the only ones we see back in Virginia at this time), and Northern Parulas.

Ft. Zachery, in Key West, gave us this Orange-crowned Warbler. 

The final big warbler site was West Lake in the Everglades. There is a boardwalk that goes through a stand of mangroves and as we walked it we encountered a nice mixed flock moving through. Here we added a Black-throated Blue Warbler as well as more Black-and-white and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Seeing all of these spring birds in February really brightened the trip. For comparison, last April when we did our big day for the Birding Cup, we had only six warblers all day. And for all of May, we had 13 warbler species. 

My next post will talk about the remaining birds that we saw on the trip. Hope to see you there. 

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