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Monday, March 27, 2006

Exotic Miami

After drinking in the sights of the Everglades for a few hours, I headed back to “civilization” to search the urban jungles of Kendall for exotic Red-whiskered Bulbuls and Spot-breasted Orioles—birds that have made this part of Florida home for decades, and which are “countable” according to the rules of the American Birding Association (ABA).

First stop was the Royal Palms Tennis Courts—where bulbuls are supposed to be found on the wires and trees in the adjacent neighborhoods. After over an hour of driving and walking around, I started wondering if the day is getting too late and the wind is keeping birds quiet. While searching, I did hear parakeets, and looked up to see two birds flying overhead. Unfortunately, they were Yellow-chevroned Parakeets—birds that are not fully established in Florida, and hense “uncountable” according to the listing rules. I drove to a couple more places where the birds are supposed to be found, but (say it with me now)—no birds. I headed over to the Kenwood Elementary School—another known site for the birds, but nothing. I dropped by the offices of the Tropical Audubon Society in south Miami, another bulbul and oriole spot—but nothing.

I needed to be at a meeting in St. Petersburg by 7pm—a five hour drive with traffic—so just after 2pm I had to call off the search and head back across the Everglades and Big Cypress on the fast-moving I-75 (Alligator Alley). After two days of birding, I’d seen only a couple of my target species, started making plans to return some other time to search for the birds I couldn't find this trip, and started wondering about the sanity of a person who would drive hundreds of miles to see a few birds. While I had Bill Pranty’s A Birder’s Guide to Florida to tell me where to look for birds, I didn’t have much time to prepare for this trip and I’m feeling a bit frustrated by not having as much info as I would normally have before heading out to bird unfamiliar territory. Note to self—do more homework before your next birding trip and learn a bit more about the habits and habitats of the birds you are looking for!

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