On 1 May we left Sebring, heading south towards Miami and our scheduled Travelodge south of Miami at Florida City. On the way down we planned to stop off at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, mainly to look for Smooth-billed Ani, which, according to Pranty frequent the area. Guess what, no Anis, they've not been seen in the area for at least two years according to the rangers. However, one of the rangers showed us a baby limpkin which was being fed Apple Snails by its parents. The birds were only about twenty feet away from us. Other birds seen here were Pileated Woodpecker and Summer Tanager in the car park with the usual array of wading birds in and around the impoundments.|
We did have better views of Pileated Woodpecker at a car park and picnic area on the southern side of Lake Okeechobee. A small flock of House Finches also passed over us whilst in the car park.
Whilst at Loxahatchee a Californian birder gave me directions to Wakodahatchee Wetlands which I had heard was good in a couple of trip reports. The area is a man made wetland with a half mile boardwalk around it. The wetland is situated on Jog Road , north of atlantic Boulevard and south of Boynton Beach Boulevard and is only a few miles away from Loxahatchee. The park was excellent for close views of Least Tern, Anhinga, Green Heron, Purple Gallinule, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, nesting Purple Martins and Black-necked Stilts and a Solitary Sandpiper. Along the boardwalk I had great views of a Racoon as it rumaged in the earth feeling for turtles eggs with its sensitive paws.
We left Wakodahatchee and hit interstate 95 with up to 8 lanes of traffic at some points. This was quite an experience as we passed through Fort Lauderdale and Miami, areas to be visited on a later date. As we neared the motel at Florida City we saw more White-winged Doves. I must credit the Travelodge motel at Florida City. It was the cleanest most up to date motel we stayed in, the staff were friendly and the breakfasts were fine. I would recommend this motel as base for the upper keys, Miami area and the Everglades.
May 2 was a day for countable tropical species that have become established in Florida. First stop was Curtiss Parkway in Miami Springs. After leaving the car in the car park of the Miami Springs Golf and Country Club, we walked the median of Curtiss Parkway as suggested by Pranty. We saw and heard plenty of noisy Monk Parakeets but no others. However, on the return walk to the car a bright orange bird flew into the top of a tree in a garden on the corner of Pinecrest Road and Curtiss Parkway. After much searching through my binoculars I managed to pick up the bird, a Spot-breasted Oriole on the nest. What a beauty.
The next stop was Fairchild Tropical Gardens south of Miami. We had a lovely walk here seeing several common birds along with several parakeets, mainly Yellow-chevroned (not countable) but a couple were White-winged parakeets which are countable. Another non-countable was a pair of Hill Mynahs nesting in the top of an old broken off palm tree. Another interesting find here was the large Green Iguanas which have escaped and colonised the gardens.
Mattheson Hammock Park is right next to the tropical gardens so we had a walk in the park. The best area was on the opposite side of the road to the tropical gardens where we walked from a parking area under the trees. Along the walk we saw our first American Redstart a brightly coloured male and we picked up a female Blackpoll Warbler. There wer plenty of Yellow-chevroned Parakeets with a couple being White-winged. The biggest surprise was a pair of Yellow and Blue Macaws which were intent on mobbing the local Red-shouldered Hawks in the area. Just before we arrived back at the car a large orange and white snake slowly crossed the path. An Everglades Rat Snake, I think?|
On the way back to the motel we visited the West Indian Race Cave Swallow site mentioned in Pranty. On driving under the Turnpike we saw no birds and I didn't really fancy driving up the service road after I had just run into the back of another car on the US1, luckily very little damage was done.
However, I drove under the Turnpike along Hainlin Mill Drive and parked on the left in the car park of some flats. At the end of the car park was a canal which passed under Hainlin Mill Drive. Under this bridge were Northern Rough-winged Swallows and West Indian Cave Swallows a plenty and very close. I would not recommend stopping here too long as some of the residents were not overly happy about us using there parking area.
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