The Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Today, my last day in Florida started out like a lot of days on this trip. Hot weather and no birds.  Got in to Florida City late last night due to some BAD advice from a California birder on Antillean Nighthawks, which turned out to be Least Terns.  My morning jaunt over to Biscayne National Park to try and find a Smooth-billed Ani was a bust.  I followed this up with a drive through the Everglades which was also very slow-  90 degree heat, lots of humidity and hardly any birds.    Let’s face it, I was tired and very hot so decided to quit birding, return to the Travelodge and update my blog while I washed my clothes.  I was also planning a nap, which hasn’t been in my schedule since last December.

A slow day to end a slow trip. I’d already planned the title of my blog post for the day, “Falling Flat in Florida”.  The clothes were in the washer so I decided to check Tropical Audubon’s Bird Board before I had a snooze. Heck I didn’t even know about this particular list serve till Carl Goodrich told me about it yesterday.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Ft. Lauderdale (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

There it was, only an hour and a half old.  A Fork-tailed Flycatcher!  I’ve not seen one in North America and hardly thought there would be an opportunity for one this year.  The clothes were all in the washer so I threw on my geeky red running shorts along with my green birding shirt and flew out the door.  After an hour and 20 minutes I was in F.t Lauderdale, but the wrong address. SW 9th Ave instead of SE 9th Avenue, which was 2 miles further east.  That delay caused me to miss the bird. Angel & Mariel (met them two weeks prior at Crandon Park) last saw the bird  20 minutes before I arrived.  Bummed out, I walked the cemetery and the surrounding neighborhood for an hour and a half. Even finding a Chimney Swift and Red-eyed Vireo, both new year birds but no consolation.  What a drag to be this close to a Fork-tailed Flycatcher and fail.   Now tired, I decided to drive the neighborhoods.  I had one hour of light left  might as well spend my last day in Florida chasing a rarity.  I pulled into a Starbucks for a Mocha, but they were out of soy milk.  The bathroom was being cleaned so I had to wait.  But eventually I began searching again.  20 minutes later I saw it.  A small kingbird with a long tail. Perched on a wire just east of the cemetery, it flew out 15 feet from it’s perch, snatch a bug and return.  Unbelievable!  The subpar day turned into a red banner day just like that.  Texas- here I come!!!!!

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Ft. Lauderdale (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

(tomorrow I will post a more complete recap of the Dry Tortugas Trip)

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2 Responses to The Fork-tailed Flycatcher

  1. Good one John! Congratulations on the Fork-tailed. That’s an awesome story of how it happened! Best of luck to you with Texas.

  2. David White says:

    Well you did make the 475 projected total, it looks like. Looking forward to the updated list. Best of luck in Texas. Dave

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