Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Black Point Park One Last Time and Baptist Hospital Area, Tuesday, April 30

I awoke in the wee hours and could not get back to sleep, so I updated my blog.  However, I left before sunrise to head to Black Point Park.  I stopped at a McDonalds on the way to pick up breakfast.  I arrived at the parking area at the canoe launch at about 6:45 am.  I was still using an electronic call cautiously, but became convinced that this is a useless technique.  Read on.  I walked the parking area from the wooden bridge to the circle at the south end and them back north to the entrance to the parking area.  Nothing.  Then I returned to the wooden bridge and walked across to the paved path that follows the boat channel.  I walked south to almost the end of the paved path and last tried the electronic song at a bench.  Finally, I gave up using the electronic song.  I wasn't working, so I reverted to my standard technique of watching and listening.

About 50 -75 feet north of the end of the paved path, I heard a soft short guttural sound and looked up to see a Mangrove Cuckoo sitting in the open and looking at me.  Soon a second bird appeared nearby and flew over next to the first and mounted her copulating for a few seconds and then sat beside her and offering a worm during copulation and after.   See photos below.
The first is is the female, who was pumping her tail up and down before the male joined her.  The male mounted her offering a worm to her (second and third photos).  Then he sat beside her still offering the worm.  This was such a fantastic experience that I am showing four of a long series of shots.  I took these using the "T" setting and adjusted the exposure and shadows on the originals which were in focus but quite dark.  I enjoyed these birds, taking pictures, quietly.  These birds appeared to be unaffected by my presence.  I believe that my focus on the

electronic call caused me to be not as focused on quiet sounds of this contact call.  I heard it several times.  I left them in peace, totally convinced that the electronic media had nothing to do with this sighting.  Actually, electronic calls and songs are likely harmful to other birders who follow, because the birds grow accustomed and silent.  I returned to my car and started breakfast.  When I was partway through my oatmeal, Bill Doyle and his wife drove up.  I told them I had just seen the birds and where, so they parked and headed south on the paved path.  After I had finished my oatmeal, I joined them. 
They had not found the cuckoos but were south of the area where I had seen them.  We returned to the spot where I had seen them, and Bill found them again.  No electronic media.  Just good birding skills, watching and listening.  We heard the soft contact call again.  What a great morning and more to come!  By the way, for the non-birders reading this, Mangrove Cuckoo can be a real nemesis bird.  I met lots of people on this trip who looked but did not find them.  

The French connection guys had shared a  location for Red-whiskered Bulbuls.  They
called me on Sunday morning to let me know that they had not seen the Mangrove Cuckoos at Black Point Park and were at a Bulbul location.  They gave me the address, so I shared it with Bill and his wife.  

After the excitement of the Mangrove Cuckoos, I headed to the area around the Baptist Hospital in Kendall, and first to SW 82 Avenue and SW 89 Terrace east of the hospital to look for the bulbuls.  There is a fountain in the front yard of the house at 8901 SW 82 Avenue.  The bulbuls are in the vicinity of this location.  Bill and his wife we already there when I arrived, because I finished breakfast before leaving Black Point Park.   Bill and his wife and I walked around the area looking for but not finding the bulbuls.  This was their last day birding so they left to go elsewhere.

The man who lives in the house with the fountain was outside to I walked up to him and told him why people where there.  I think he appreciated it.  He was a nice guy of Cuban origin who lived in Tennessee but was at his daughter's house helping her take care of his grandsons during tax time when she was very busy with her business.     Eventually, I left and drove to areas behind/south of the Baptist hospital  where I had seen bottle bush trees in bloom.  Spot-breasted Orioles like to feed on these blossoms and can be found in the sometimes.  No luck with the orioles.  I drove to the entrance to Kendallwood, at SW 82 Street and SW 87 Avenue, where Red-whiskered Bulbuls had been reported by the Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) Key West and Dry Tortugas Tour as well as two Spot-breasted Orioles.  This report was on the Tropical Audubon Bird Board.  First, I drove slowly around the Kendallwood neighborhood to check the habitat first and looked for birds flying of sitting on power lines.  Soon, after arriving at Kendallwood, it began to rain really hard, so hard that it was hard to see to drive, a real torrential downpour.  I left the area and found a McDonalds to use the bathroom and also got a Mango Pineapple Smoothie,  I returned to Kendallwood drove the area again but the rain started up again.  When it slowed, I stopped by the nearby spot at SW 82 Avenue and SW 89 Terrace to try for bulbuls.  The rain stopped briefly and the sun was peeping through the clouds.  I walked west on SW 89 Street nearby.  Some smaller birds with longer tails flew into the trees around the second house from the corner on the north side.  I heard the song of Red-whiskered Bulbul and found one bird sitting high in the tree.  It was 11:45 am.  The two other bulbuls flew north and landed in the back of a tree in the back yard of this house.  However, I looked for but never found them again by walking along an interior street along North Kendall Boulevard and looking into this tree that was visible between houses.  It started to rain again, so I went to the McDonalds and had a grilled chicken salad for lunch.

I returned to Kendallwood, and found a tour group of birders parked one block east of the entrance.  It was Wes Biggs leading a tour from Houston Audubon.  They were looking for the Red-whiskered Bulbuls at the same location reported by the TAS Tour.  I shared information about the spot where I saw the bulbuls.  They left for lunch, and I drove around the neighborhood looking for likely spots for Spot-breasted Oriole.  At SW 89 Avenue between SW 83 and SW 82 Streets, I found a Spot-breasted Oriole low in a tree with large open pink flowers.  There was a tree house in this tree and a blooming bottle brush tree nearby as well as other flowering bushes right along the street and in the back-yard.   The bird flew east toward a house on SW 83 Street with a large bush covered with bright red flowers.  I turned right on SW 82 Street and drove slowly east.  The oriole, I am assuming the same one, flew north and landed in the top of a palm tree right by the road.  I managed a few photos, one of which shows the large white wing bar very well and the spots on the breast, whence its name.  See photo below.  I called Wes Biggs and gave him the information about the oriole.
Having succeeded in my quest for the cuckoo, bulbul and oriole, I decided to try for the White-tailed Kite.  It was a last minute thought, while I was already driving north on Florida Turnpike toward Wakodahatchee Wetlands to try for Purple Gallinule, which I had tried for at Loxahatchee NWR but missed twice.  I took a rather convoluted path to get to the Chekika unit of the Everglades NP.  It would have been easier if I had just gone west on N. Kendall Drive to 997 and south to Richmond.  However, I made it in a more convoluted path too long to discuss.  I did not find the White-tailed Kites.   A storm was brewing to he west and the sky was darkening, and it was getting late nearly 5:00 pm when I arrived.  That's probably why I did not find the kites. 
There was still enough time to continue north to Wakodahatchee Wetland for Purple Gallinule.  I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm.  I had 45 minutes to find the birds.  The wetlands close at 7:45 pm.  Within 10 to 15 feet of the point where the boardwalk meets the edge of the wetland, there were four Purple Gallinules in the same vegetation clump.   It required only about a minute to find the Purple Gallinules.  See photo of two of the four and one which shows the very large feet and toes.  The light was getting low for photography, and these photos were adjusted to remove shadows.

I left Wakodathatchee Wetland and drove south to Fort Lauderdale to stay the night, Tomorrow, unless a great rarity shows up, I head for the west coast of Florida.

Mangrove Cuckoo, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Spot-breasted Oriole and Purple gallinule makes the total 384.


  1. Wow, what a day! Great birds, Jay. Glad the cuckoos were easy in the end. I tried for them at Ding Darling twice over the years to no avail. Keep it up!

    Up at our latitude, nothing exciting. Pulled in Blue-wing, BT-blue, Indigo, both orioles, RB Grosbeaks and a Swainson's Thrush today.


  2. I was thinking the same thing Cindy/Ryan wrote. Nice birds Jay! Keep going I'm living vicariously through you now.

  3. If you hadn't seen yet, a Black-faced Grassquit showed up today a Bill Baggs: