Saturday, May 7, 2016

No Birds? Go For Lizards! - 02 May 2016

Robin and I are in Miami, FL for a Masters Workshop for Futuring (for her). So, this morning I dropped her off at the Microsoft Venture Hive, LLC a few blocks away from the Holiday Inn, and headed off to Biscayne Bay to check out the birding.  It was not very good…

I drove down to Bill Bagg State Park and parked at the extreme south end of the park. It was hot and humid, and the lenses fogged up as I got out of the car, despite driving w/o A/C. 

I walked the bike trail on both sides of the parking lot and saw and heard only a pair of Northern Cardinals. A couple of fly-by Royal Terns were the only birds I could even try to photograph. The area was quiet. Last night’s storm and a stiff north breeze most likely blew any last migrants away from the area.

A juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird floated overhead for a brief moment but was partially obscured by trees. Other than that, I only saw a distant White Ibis flying near the ocean. Even the shoreline was void of bird life, so I headed north to Crandon Park. It wasn’t much better.

I stopped in at the Nature Center and was told that bird life was quiet right now. A few Northern Mockingbirds and Boat-tailed Grackles were the only birds in the parking area. I walked out to the ocean and found a smattering of shorebirds: Sanderlings, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, and Ruddy Turnstones.

I spent some time in the sand trying to digiscope the Sanderlings as they foraged up and down the water’s edge. I then walked out onto the small sandbar and tried digiscopgin the plovers, which were partially backlit by the morning sun.

Returning to the car I then drove over to Matheson Hammock County Park just across the street from Fairchild Gardens. I walked a trail out to large open field, and the only birds seen were a pair of Fish Crows chasing a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

A pair of Red-faced (Mitred) Parakeets flew overhead screeching, but provided no pics. Only other birds heard were Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

I walked back to the car and headed across the street to Fairchild Gardens. After paying an entrance fee I hiked the gardens looking for birds. The bird list was short, and most of the migrant warblers had left, so there wasn’t going to be much birdlife around. So, I did the next best thing: look for lizards!

Fairchild Gardens host a number of exotic species, most of them reptiles. Lizards abound! From tiny Anoles to larger Basilisk Lizards to even larger Spiny Iguanas the place was crawling with them. I spent most of my time just digiscoping the lizards.

With the heat and humidity pushing 90F I spent some time in the Orchid Garden.

Then some time in the Butterfly Garden. 

Then trying to find my way out of the place. Before doing so a pair of Yellow-chevronned Parrots flew by.

It was just after lunch, so I decided to drive back toward the airport to look for psittacids. Just north of the airport is Miami Springs and a good location for parrots. I found none. It was hot enough inside the car that my iPhone overheated and shut itself off! I was stuck navigating the area w/o a map so I just followed I-95 to US-27 N and miraculously found myself right where I needed to be. 

I drove to the edge of the airport, and just before turning around, came upon a pair of Loggerhead Shrike that had just caught an Anole lizard. The poor thing was already dead, but they way the birds were squealing as they tossed it around I couldn’t tell if it was struggling as it was being mercilessly impaled on the barbed wire.

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