Eighteen birders joined TAS field trip leader John Boyd as we braved the elements this morning to look for birds at Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables. The area around the parking lot at the south end of the park was very active with both native and non-native birds as the group assembled under threatening skies, with thunder rumbling in the distance. Species tallied before the walk officially started included Chimney Swift, Eastern Screech-Owl, Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpecker, Orange-winged Parrot, Red-masked Parakeet, Great Crested Flycatcher, Fish Crow, Common Hill Myna, European Starling and Northern Cardinal.
Once the walk began, we didn’t find much until we reached the pond near the parking area at the north end of the park. In mangroves and buttonwoods along the periphery of the pond, we found a few warblers (Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May and Black-throated Blue Warbler) and a couple of Savannah Sparrows. Other birds seen in this area included White Ibis, Black and Turkey Vulture, a Pileated Woodpecker and two Yellow-chevroned Parakeets. A Common Gallinule was calling from somewhere in the mangroves.
Crossing Old Cutler Road to the west side of the park, we didn’t see much (other than a few very large dogs) until we exited the service road and entered the open areas on that side of the park. Birds encountered there included Mourning Dove, more Chimney Swifts, a young Cooper’s Hawk, another Orange-winged Parrot, a Blue Jay, a Gray Catbird and a few more warblers (American Redstart, Cape May Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler). Indian Peafowl were heard in the distance.
As we entered the nature trail to return to the east side of the park, we found more warblers feeding high up in an Australian pine. Among them was a gorgeous male Scarlet Tanager in breeding plumage! It appeared that there was also a female Scarlet Tanager in the group, but that wasn’t confirmed. We didn’t see any other birds along the nature trail. Just as we returned to Old Cutler Road, the skies opened and many in the group scattered to take shelter. The rain shower only lasted a few minutes, but it was still decided to end the walk a littler earlier than planned.
An eBird checklist for the walk is here . Pileated Woodpecker photo by Michelle Echegaray (Carter).