Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On the Road to Ft. DeSoto

Over Easter weekend we thought we'd take advantage of our extra time off by searching for Bachman's Sparrows at Corbett Wildlife Management Area in Palm Beach County. The plan was spend our days searching the saw palmetto understorys, and our nights spent camping one of the primitive lots within the park. Once we arrived, however, the camping turned out to be much more primitive than either of us had anticipated. No clearly marked lots, no electricity, no bathrooms… no people! In addition, there had been a near total absence of migrants being seen in the weeks previous to our trip, and things didn't look any better once we had a look around. Although we had planned on staying close to home (Corbett is less than an hour from our apartment in Boca Raton), we decided on an impromptu change of setting and headed to noted migration destination Ft. DeSoto, another 3 1/2 hours away. On the way out, we did manage to find several Great Crested Flycatchers, which were the only signs of life during our brief stay at Corbett.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Alongside the road during our unplanned trek across the state, we had several excellent surprises. The first was a single Swallow-tailed Kite in flight, glimpsed only briefly, but always a very welcome sight. Next, we met a stretch of road with as many as half a dozen Crested Caracaras. This was the farthest south we'd ever seen them, having found them only at Viera Wetlands, previously. 

An uneasy truce

I pulled the car over to the shoulder and Maureen was able to get shots of one unfortunate specimen getting mobbed by an aggravated Northern Mockingbird. The Caracara never ceded his perch while we looked on, and neither species seemed particularly ready to capitulate any time soon. 

Trying to look the other way

Sizing up the opposition

A near-miss

Determined to stay vigilant for the next surprise, we checked and rechecked every snag and every Turkey Vulture for the unexpected, but the remainder of our drive passed without event. When we arrived at Ft. DeSoto we found the campsite packed super densely. But despite the crowds that had come to spend their three-day weekend at the beach, we managed to do some of our best shorebirding ever, the next morning. But that will have to wait for another time.

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