Friday, May 3, 2013

Black-faced Grassquit Search, Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2

On Wednesday, I awoke to heavy rain in Fort Lauderdale.  I stayed in my room and updated my blog with the great day on Tuesday.  I saw the internet posting about the Black-faced Grassquit at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, and decided that I needed to try for it.  Black-faced Grassquit is a Life Bird for me and obviously a great new bird for the year.  I had a late, very large breakfast and lunch combined which would hold me until a late dinner on Wednesday night.  I arrived at Bill Baggs at about 1:00 pm.  I met Gaylee and Dick Dean and a man and wife from Canada.  This man from Canada was on Don Wilkerson's Birding Tour and had photographed the Western Spindalis from behind at the Botanical Gardens where I met him before.  The man from Canada had seen and photographed the Black-faced Grassquit.  Gaylee had seen the bird about three times during the morning and early afternoon and had seen the bird about an hour before I arrived.  The man from Canada and his wife left.  Gaylee, Dick and I continued to search continuously throughout the area.  Dick had not seen the Black-faced Grassquit.  Gaylee had seen it low along the entry road to No Name Key toward the harbor from the white gate.  It seemed to be following a female Common Yellowthroat.  Rangel Diaz arrived at about 2:15 pm.  I have seen his postings on the Tropical Miami Bird Board.  He had seen it in the morning between the Nature Trail and the white gate.  I asked him about the provenance of this bird.  He thought it would be accepted by the Florida Bird Records committee.  Black-faced Grassquit,  especially a female, is not as likely to be a caged bird as Yellow-faced Grassquit.  Rangel left at about 3:40 pm.  Later I also met Brian Rapoza and thanked him for all of his work on the Tropical Audubon Society website.  The TAS site is a great resource and is used by many out of state birders.  I told Brian that it is a great resource, which he appreciated hearing.  Brian also echoed the same opinion about the provenance of the Black-faced Grassquit.

I was the last birder present.  The Dean's left earlier, saying that they would be back in the morning.  I stayed until about 7:00 pm and needed to decide if I would return on Thursday.  I had seen many of the same warblers this time at Bill Baggs that I had seen last Monday--Black and White Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Redstart, and Blackpoll Warbler (this time a female) as well as Gray Kingbird.  I returned to Fort Lauderdale to stay the night, and decided to try again at least during the morning for the Black-faced Grassquit.

I arrived at 8:30 am on Thursday just after the park opened.  I had picked up breakfast and was eating my oatmeal as I walked from the parking lot toward the white gate.  I met Paul Bithorn and another local birder, whose name I did not learn.  Paul is a well known birder in the Miami area, and a birding tour leader.  Later Toe, another local expert birder showed up.  I met Barbara Chouinard from Canada, who I had met earlier on Don Wilkinson's Birding Tour, and who had e-mailed me.  She was with three other women from Canada still birding in south Florida.  We all looked very hard for the Black-faced Grassquit but did not find it.  Gradually, the other birders left except for the Dean's and me.  Another man who had showed up later in the morning told us at 2:00 pm that he had seen the bird at 1:00 pm along the path behind the white gate.  However, he asked about the identification features, so I was left with the impression that he was not sure.  I wish he had let us know right after he saw it, so we might have had a chance to see it also.  We looked intensively along the bike path in the spot to which he saw it fly.  No luck.

Later, I met Ron Furnish and his lady from Virginia Beach.  He is working full time and doing a reduced Big Year.  Ron had sent me an e-mail on March 4.  He is originally from Cincinnati and goes back every year for Opening Day (Reds baseball).  His god mother worked for a P&G CEO, so living in Cincinnati and the P&G connection are in common for us as well as birding.  Ron is ahead of me in numbers, 415+, (He got a Gray kingbird at Bill Baggs.) because he was just at High Island and has been to Arizona.  At high Island, Ron had met my friends, Isaac and Patty from Austin, Texas.  Isaac is doing a Photography Big Year.

I left Bill Baggs at 4:00 pm as a heavy rain storm started.  I did not see the Black-faced Grassquit.  I need to move on and get additional birds in Florida and then leave Florida for other parts of the country.  The Black-faced Grassquit is the first significant rarity that I tried for and missed.  Perhaps, it will stay and show up again later.  However, I am running out of time to be able to complete some other trips and also get to Magee Marsh in northern Ohio during the spring migration and before I leave for Alaska.  I drove through very heavy rain north.  I was originally planning to head to the west coast of Florida tonight.  However, the significant traffic delays due to rush hour, the heavy rain and the fact that I started to feel quite tired, made me decide to stay in Fort Lauderdale, go to bed early and leave in the wee hours of the morning.  The significant flooding that I encountered in Fort Lauderdale also played a part.  Shortly after I post this entry, I will be on my way to the Punta Gorda area on the west coast of Florida.

No new birds to report.        

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