Florida Wrap-Up

I’m sitting at SeaTac International Airport, waiting for a flight to Tucson.  Which makes me think I should hurry up and write a short wrap-up post for my trip to Florida.

White Ibis

Overall, south Florida was a terrific experience.  There are some things I don’t love about the area: the obnoxious drivers, the vast urban sprawl, and the crazy tolling system.  But there is much to love about this beautiful flatland of swamps, beaches, marsh, and lowland forests.

Miles by car: 1757

Miles by ship: 150

Miles by ship in rough seas: 148

Miles by foot: 35 (approx)

Total species seen: 140

New Big Year Birds Added: 30

Florida boosted me up over the 600 species mark!  I’m currently at 609 official ticks.  When I started my Big Year last June, it took me just 2 days to see my first 100 species, and only another week to reach 200.  It took 2 more months to reach 400, and almost 4 months after that to reach 500.  Even in the midst of spring migration, it has taken me 4.5 additional months to top 600.  Now I have exactly one month left in my year, and we’ll see how many more I can pick up before the end.  My base goal is 650 (looks somewhat promising), and my “stretch” goal is 675 (don’t think I’m going to make that one).

Scrubbiest looking bird: Florida Scrub-Jay (note the bands on its leg)

Florida Scrub Jay

Scrubbiest looking landscape: Florida scrublands

Florida Scrub

Most Unusual Birding Location: the University of Miami (found my only Spot-Breasted Oriole there, right outside the campus radio station and bookstore)

U of Miami

Ugliest Looking Lighthouse: Sanibel Island Light (Point Ybel Lighthouse)

Ugly lighthouse

Shortest Lighthouse: Garden Key Lighthouse at Fort Jefferson

Ft Jefferson lighthouse

Most Majestic Lighthouse: Loggerhead Key Light

Loggerhead Light

Dirtiest my car has gotten: On the road to Bear Lake Trail in the Everglades

Dirty Car

Most Pleasing Sunrise: In a Slash Pine forest in SW Florida

Dawn in Saw Palmetto Slash Pine Forest

Coolest Non-bird Critters: Horseshoe Crabs at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Horseshoe Crabs

Place I most want to return with my family: the Dry Tortugas

Fort at Sunset

Scariest Signs: Flood Signs at Ding Darling NWR, indicating that the 100-year flood level is 13.2 feet above sea level, in a place where the entire island (Sanibel) is only 2 feet above sea level.  Yikes!

flood signs

Sign heights

Weirdest Sign: Gopher Tortoise Crossing

Gopher Tortoise Crossing

Apparently those tortoises look kind of like Gumby!

Stupidest Sign:

Gate May Be Closed

That’s the thing about gates: they can be open OR closed.  A gate that doesn’t open is called a fence.  A gate that doesn’t close is called a hole in the fence.

Most delightful group of birders stuck ever to get seasick on a trip to the Tortugas:

Part of Group at Loggerhead

Thanks, Florida!  I’ll be back some day….

LighthousesAs for now, I’m headed to Tucson, renting a car, and driving across Arizona and New Mexico on my way to west Texas.  I hope to be in Big Bend National Park tomorrow for my most strenuous physical challenge of my year so far, and a rendezvous with a rare warbler.

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