Florida Bound

Once again my alarm went off at 3:20 AM.  But this morning I awoke feeling pretty good; three consecutive nights of sound sleep will have that affect.  The flight to Miami through Houston was uneventful; that’s noteworthy when you’re flying standby.  Larry Manfredi has set up an impromptu pelagic trip out of Key Biscayne for tomorrow, Wednesday. His friend, Roberto, has access to a boat and is interested in trying for additional pelagic birds as part of something dubbed the “June Challenge”  that is being promoted here in Florida.  What’s got me excited is the multiple reports of a Red-footed Booby (and please no cracks about boobies & South Beach from the peanut gallery) that’s been hanging around one of two mileage-marker buoys out of Key Biscayne. This would be a great bird to pick up.  Of course there’s no guarantee, but this boat trip certainly puts it in play.

Neither Bob Ake nor Lynn Barber saw Red-footed Booby during their big years.  I’d like to begin narrowing the gap between Lynn Barber’s 2008 and Bob Ake’s 2010 “Big Year” and mine. This may sound odd. If you look at our lists, I’m three birds ahead of Bob Ake as of June 21- 642 vs. 639. and 33 ahead of Lynn Barber- 642 vs. 609.  But there’s another way to analyze the lists that brings everything into proper perspective.  In 2010 Bob Ake saw 28 birds (Vanderpoel category 3 and higher) that I don’t yet have. Those 28 birds are highlighted in red in column two of my current list.  I have five birds (highlighted in yellow) that he doesn’t have for a net difference of minus 23 species.  So for me to pass Bob Ake’s 2010 totals, I will need to see all of the remaining category 1 & 2 birds and find at least 24 additional species  in categories 3 and higher.  That’s a daunting task, but the good news is I still have 192 days to achieve this goal.  In 2008 Lynn Barber also saw 28 species I don’t yet have, but in this comparison I already have 10 species that she missed so the difference is 18 species.

A return visit to Florida was required anyways to try for the Antillean Nighthawk.  It hadn’t arrived yet when I was here in April, despite the fact that Least Terns nesting on the roof of the Winn Dixie in Big Pine Key had been reported as Antillean Nighthawks .  Larry Manfredi says that the nighthawks have been reported at Taverner Key, my plan is to drive there tonight and listen for them at a shopping center.  If I’m not successful, tomorrow night after the pelagic trip I’ll drive to the Marathon Airport.

I will certainly update the blog after tomorrows pelagic trip so stay tuned – Florida here I come.

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