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02/12/08
Shark Valley Quickie
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US
Posted by: Ken @ 9:57 am

Both Mary Lou and I have been fighting a cold, and we woke up Sunday morning not feeling much ambition. Nevertheless, since I have recently been barely meeting my 20-Bird RDA (BirdChaser’s Recommended Daily Allowance) and was much in need of a nutritional fix, I talked Mary Lou into accompanying me.

We briefly visited the Shark Valley Visitors Center, one of the five in  Everglades National Park.  It is only a little more than a 30 minute drive from our home.

Although the temperature  was in the high 60s, it was cloudy, windy, and we were  uncomfortably chilly in our tee shirts. This kept the smaller birds under cover and difficult to see. It also demonstrated how we have changed our definition of “cold weather” since moving to Florida from the mountains of New Mexico. Our former home probably looks now like it did a few winters ago:

We joined Brian Ettling, a Park Ranger, for a walk around the Visitor Center. We had hoped to see a Short-tailed Hawk, which Brian said is sometimes out around noon, but it did not show up. Anyway, we were running out of energy by 10 AM, and departed much earlier than is our habit.

A pair of Red-chouldered Hawks was homesteading in a palm that overhangs the gift shop. We watched them bring nesting materials into the heart of its fronds, but the nest itself was well-hidden. This one posed nicely for the large contingent of photographers.

A highlight was the lone American White Pelican we saw, circling high above the Visitors Center. Though not rare in South Florida this time of the year, it was a bit unusual to see it alone and inland. A bit too high for a  photograph.

On the way home we skipped the mandatory lunch at Wajiros’s, our favorite Cuban restaurant, but  we detoured about a mile west on the Tamiami Trail (US 41) to an airboat launching area, in hopes of seeing the Short-tailed Hawk or perhaps a Snail Kite, both of which we missed. However, an American Bittern did fly by in front of us. This time my camera was stowed in its case.

During the trip and in our yard, we saw all 17 species on my “Gimmee List,” including the Tricolored Heron shown above, launching from a tree, and this Great Blue Heron fishing, both at Shark River Valley.

In the course of the morning  we saw 37 species, short of the hoped-for doubling of my Bird RDA, but better than moping around at home feeling sick. Species included  8  of my 10 (all but  Killdeer and Monk Parakeet) “Should-sees, ” plus a White-winged Dove near home. At Shark River we added a Belted Kingfisher, Palm Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Crow, Northern Flicker, and these Common Moorhens and a Purple Gallinule with its enormous feet:

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