Day 120 – The Keys, Florida

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Well, I had to cut my Colorado trip short to head back to Miami. Shocking, isn’t it?? After flying all night, I headed straight to Crandon Park where the Caribbean vagrants were having a party. Miriam Y. Avello met me there and spent the day trying to help me. She also brought me some much appreciated Cuban coffee. It’s a joke amongst my birding friends that I can’t bird without coffee in one hand.

I started by trying to see the Fork-tailed Flycatcher but I was a day too late. The bird has not shown back up. Next on the list was the Thick-billed Vireo. My friend Shane Runyon and Victor and Ruben Stoll already had the bird. I heard it but it took a major effort to get to see it and snap a couple of bad pictures. The habitat at Crandon is very thick and the trail is very hot.

I spent 2 more days trying to find a Bahama Mockingbird and chasing false reports of rarities proliferating like weeds. I got a sunburn, I was bitten repeatedly and I was frustrated.

At 5:30 a.m. I had a text from Larry Manfredi that he was heading out to Biscayne National Park on his boat, did I want to go? It’s a good thing I sleep with my phone under my pillow! I was staying with Nicole Koeltzow and I didn’t want to wake her. She had already suffered enough trying to help me relocate birds that she’d already seen.

I gave the BAMO at Crandon one more shot, failed and called Larry. I was birding with Shane Runyon and Noah Frade at Crandon, so I invited them to go with me to BNP. We had a beautiful day to be out on the water but the ride over to Elliott Key was a little bumpy to say the least. I’m going to need a few sessions with a Chiropractor after that ride!

Larry had been there earlier in the week and had found many goodies. Elliott Key did not disappoint! We had 3 Western Spindalis, a Bahama Mockingbird and a perched Antillean Nighthawk in the first 15 minutes! We had a blast.

After a nice lunch rehashing what we’d just witnessed, I said goodbye and headed for Key West. I stopped and birded along the way and only made it to Marathon where I enjoyed a nice group of Roseate Terns. I will be in the Keys the next few days seeing what shows up!


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