Joining John Boyd today on this trip through Everglades National Park were 18 birders that were ready to face the rare cold front and wind in hopes of making the best of this Saturday. Probably expected because of the weather, bird numbers were low on both variety and quantity, but we still managed to pull out 52 species by the end of the day.
While waiting for participants to arrive, a flock of Tree Swallows entertained some of us in the parking lot, along with the only Yellow-throated Warbler of the day foraging in a tree close to the bathrooms. Checklist here.
From there, the first stop was at Lucky Hammock, where constant sightings of Turkey Vultures was a reminder that today was going to be a day different than normal. Loggerhead Shrike was seen in the trees around the parking lot area and the only bird of note in the namesake hammock was a Western Kingbird battling the gusts of wind. Checklist here.
The next stop was at Anhinga Trail that had little to show with both Purple Gallinule and Green Heron being no shows and the most interesting sighting belonging to a Double-crested Cormorant actively hunting and managing to eat an invasive Mayan Cichlid in front of all participants. Checklist here.
Research Road gave a bit of variety to the day with a modest sized raft of Ring-necked Ducks enjoyed by all. Other birds of note were a small flock of Least Sandpipers and Killdeer flying between resting spots, 2 Northern Harriers (one of which was a gray male) and a flyover Short-tailed Hawk. Checklist here.
An early lunch in Long Pine Key provided brief views of a conspicuous Pine Warbler in full yellow plumage and most surprisingly a young Brown Pelican that seemed a bit too far from the coast or any significant body of water. Checklist here.
Stopping in Mahogany Hammock, Paurotis Pond and Nine Mile Pond, provided very little to note outside of a small feeding flock with a White-eyed Vireo, a Black-and-white Warbler and a Northern Parula in Mahogany and a flyover Short-tailed Hawk in Nine Mile Pond. Checklists here and here.
Mrazek Pond provided nice views of a pair of Pied-billed Grebes and Common Gallinules, and a roadside stop before reaching the bridge to the Flamingo area gave proper views of a flock of Blue-winged Teal. With the tide being high, no sand banks could be seen, but with all the wind, nothing was sticking around the Amphitheater area outside of an immature Bald Eagle, the omnipresent Ospreys and a small group of American White Pelicans. Final stop was at Eco Pond, which provided better views of a feeding American White Pelican and some common wading birds along with the only proper sighting of Gray Catbird for the day. Checklist here