Birding by RV, ch 3, Arizona to Florida’s 700th Bird

Arizona to Florida’s 700th Bird

It felt good to return to the Santa Rita Mountains and especially to Bog Springs Campground. However, during our absence temperatures had gone down. Snow had been falling on some of the lower ledges of Mt. Wrightson. Rain is falling at lower elevations. During the first part of February, we hosted Linda’s son, Sam, from Oregon. He arrived in the crowd attending the super bowl, an activity Linda and I were not anticipating. Camping at Gilbert Ray Campground helped the commute to tour Tucson-Sonoran Desert Museum and to show off the undisturbed desert to all our delight. Sam especially loved it, snakes and all. Unfortunately Linda and I caught some sort of bug that produced a mild fever. Tylenol took care of us enough to share Bog Springs with our guest. Surprisingly, the campground, despite the winter weather was nearly full.

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Gilbert Ray Campground

 

8 February 2015

We take Sam to the airport in Phoenix. With ample daylight remaining, we drive to Encanto Park, where, according to good authority, we will find a local population of an established bird long ago introduced in Phoenix. My information is correct. We find seven Rosy-faced Parakeets cavorting from palm to palm on this warmish day. The flu or whatever ails us feels worse today, but driving south to Bog Springs is akin to going home.

9-28 February 2015

The bug looses ground. I am not ready for prime-time, but I am beginning to feel my oats as my dad would joke. It takes a while to bring my notes up to date. A review of our bird checklist suggests we will see around 380 specie before the end of the year. Besides the notes, it is tax time. Ours is usually simple enough that I am able to wade through the job. It goes well. Enough miles have been driven to require an oil and filter change. Frustratingly, it takes some exploring to find someone who will or can do the change and still not charge an exorbitant fee. Luckily, we get the oil work for $50. My coumadin check reveals an unacceptably high number, which means it must be rechecked in a few days.

While in town, away from our beloved Bog Springs, parking in lots is often required. On 18 February, I park in marked spaces, with the front of the RV facing out while the rear hangs over the space behind the painted parking strips. Usually, the RV is parked in the same manner, but with the center of the RV over the lines. Thus, the RV is using up four spaces. In most instances, parking in such a manner occurs in the outer perimeters of a lot where several parking slots are empty. However, the parking lot in Green Valley is extremely crowded on the 18th and it is even more crowded when I return. Two cars had nestled within inches of the RV. One is three inches from the narrower front part of the RV. Dealing with one is okay; I could extract the RV but two is not possible and backing the RV is impossible. We are trapped. Luckily, a passenger in the closest car volunteers the location of the driver, who I find and persuade to move his vehicle. Had he not been readily available, we would have been stuck. That is why we look for a way to pull through and why we occupy four parking spaces.

We made it back to Bog Springs without scratches. The next day, 19 February, is for the birds. A bumpy dirt road takes us to Florida Canyon where Rufous-capped Warbler and Black-capped Gnatcather add to our year list. Before returning to camp, a walk along Proctor Road is productive. Hundreds of Chipping Sparrow are wintering along with Baird’s, Grasshopper and Vesper sparrows.

Ever since embarking on this journey, our bones and muscles had been protesting the couch we were sleeping on, and we have a plan. Remove that pesky couch and build a platform to support a mattress. We measured twice since the wood would be cut only once. According to our calculations, a shelf could be built over the 32 gallon fresh water tank, and then the platform for the mattress built about a foot above the shelf. The length of the upper platform is dictated by the kitchen stove/sink cabinet to the rear and the back of the driver’s seat. Perfect. The couch never allowed my 6-foot frame to stretch, but the new platform is enough. The width of the frame is limited by the distance from the left wall of the RV to the open doors of the cabinet we had installed last month. The width will easily allow a reasonably wide mattress and walking the “aisl” from just behind the front seats to the kitchen area will be much easier than when the couch was open.

We draw our plans, with side, front and top views. That woodshop class decades ago is finally paying for itself. On 23 February, we leave Bog Springs for the last time until perhaps some other season. It is a sad departure, but the impending winter and wondering what is around the next corner, the new scene, more birds, Texas, Florida and beyond help leaving our Bog Springs home.

Being satisfied with our January cabinet, we return to the same place for the bed platform. Leaving our drawings and our RV for the work, we are now homeless and stay in the same nearby motel we occupied last month.

The platform is finally completed and, although its resemblance to our drawings is not as close as we hope, the structure appears serviceable. I leave Linda at the motel where she organizes for our departure and head south to Sahuarita to pick up the mattress we had ordered. It fits reasonably well and it obviously is an improvement over the couch. Back at Tucson, we delight in having the storage shelf under our new bed. Now, to get out of dodge.

3 March 2015

Getting out of dodge took longer than we thought, but today Tucson is in the rear-view, I mean side-view mirrors. There have been many times that a view from the rear-view mirror could reveal what is behind us. Driving with only side-view mirrors is a new experience, but so far so good. Frequent glances out those mirrors may have helped avoid problems. Many drivers of smaller vehicles frequently dart around us as if in a race, only to be directly in front of us at the next traffic light. To date, we have not observed being recipients of the middle finger and we have heard only very few horns blowing ill wind.

Our RV, painted in several shades of gray, takes us east on I-10. The plan is for some birding in the Sulphur Springs Valley near Wilcox. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes winter there, but today, the wind is blowing hard. Most birds will be hunkered down in such weather. That wind creates difficult driving conditions, especially on the interstate where exposure to the gale requires us to drive slower and safer speeds.

If only we could spend more time in Arizona. We barely scratch the surface. It is difficult to fault the Santa Rita Mountains for birding, but there were other high islands in southern Arizona. As we motor ever eastward, we pass the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista and we had long ago ignored Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains near Phoenix. I had barely stepped foot in the Whetstone Mountains southwest of Benson. What birds and what campsites might grab our attention should we revisit Arizona and explore the dozen high islands.

Once past north of the Chiricahua Mountains, the wind is minimal. Soon, we are in New Mexico and turn south on US 80 to Portal Road before reentering Arizona. Portal Road ascends to Portal, a small village nestled at the eastern foot of the Chiricahuas. A small general store sits a few yards off the pavement. From previous visits, we know our cells will not work, but the store keeper offers their land-line phone. We determine that the forest service campgrounds along Cave Creek are closed. Forest fires and subsequent flash flooding had rendered them inaccessible. What are we going to do? Luckily, camping by RV is possible beyond the American Museum of Natural History Research Station. Our route takes up FR 42. Rain had muddied the road and more rain will muddy it more. Having driven up FR 42 in past years, I know the narrowing road and our RV will not coexist. However, we keep driving, and just about where FR 42 is definitely too hazardously narrow for our RV, we spot a place to park for the night. Except for the bubbling of the nearby creek, our night is quiet. So far, our campsite is the most isolated we have experienced.

A walk up and down the darkened and deserted road invites owling. Parting clouds reveal a half-moon and stars hovering over the conifers towering over the road. Sounds of me crunching gravel and squeeshing mud on the road compete with playback recordings of owls. Nothing calls back.

4 March 2015

Solitude and a family of Mexican Jays and a pair of Bridled Titmouse greet the wet morning. The creek is running more strongly than last night.

By noon, the Chiricahua Mountains are behind us, with the hope of arriving at Balmorhea, Texas, before day’s end. Our plan is ill-founded. We make it to a Pilot station at Van Horn. This is 180 degrees from last night at the peaceful remote camp in the Chiricahuas. Diesel trucks swarm while jockeying for a place to park for the night. The huge rigs come and go all night.

Chiricahua Mountains                  Industrial strength RV

5-6 March 2015

Cold rain and breakfast are on the morning menu at the Pilot station. The weather radio blurts out the NOA forecast. The future, we are told, is cold and more cold, accompanied by freezing rain and wind. Fort Stockton’s Wal-Mart is a welcome sight as driving beyond might be hazardous. Many RVs occupy the large lot, their owners apparently hearing the same forecast warning.

Weather conditions are not improving on 6 March. Wal-Mart ordinarily allows parking on their lot for one night only, but they must have heard some of the same weather reports we are monitoring. We are grateful for the second night.

6-7 March 2015

After a Pilot station truck stop and two nights at a Wal-Mart, we are eager to camp in a natural setting. After all, nature is nurturing. Llanos River State Park south of Junction, Texas, fits our requirement since the park is far enough off US 377 to be quiet and the park has showers. Although our RV has a shower, it is not easy to use. It seems that to our shower, size matters. According to statistics gathered in 2010, an average American male is 5 feet 9 inches tall, weights 195.5 pounds and has a waist circumference of 39.7 inches. My girth is below average, but I am an angstrom south of six feet tall. All the hiking, especially in the Santa Rita Mountains has reduced my weight down to hovering around 180 pounds. I might weigh more soaking wet, but moving around inside the RV shower is such exercise that the water drops on my skin do not outweight my aerobic gyrations. Small containers sticking to the shower wall by inefficient suction cups invariably went crashing to the floor. Linda had less trouble, being smaller than me, and definitely more petite than the average women.

Drying off inside the RV shower is, for me, nearly impossible. I could usually get dried off enough to finish outside the roomier area just outside the bathroom and to the rear of the kitchen. Linda, some years ago, learned that drying off after a shower does not require a large and plush bath towel. Putting the concept into practice, whether in the RV or a shower either in a park or a truck stop, drying is easily accomplished with a wash cloth used while bathing. An average wash cloth, a terry clothe not larger than 12 X 12 inches, when rung out, soaks up lots of water. It took about 4 to 5 cycles of wringing the clothe and then drying my skin to accomplish the job. In time, it barely takes longer to dry with a small clothe than it does using a large towel. Once done, hanging the small clothe to dry is simple. The clothe will take less space inside the RV while a towel or two will take more space that we have. A large towel also will take longer to dry. What ever goes into the laundry must be dry. So, we solve the problem by going with a perfectly adequate sized clothe that, when clean or dry after use consumes far less storage space than a normal sized bath towel. Using less storage and having a smaller laundry basket saves time, possible bold, laundromat charges and valuable storage space.

It is now spring, but early spring. Only a couple of Golden-cheeked Warblers are located in the park. These endangered birds nest only in the Edwards Plateau of Texas. We are too early for Black-capped Vireo, another endangered species, that, according to the campground host, is numerous in the park. At $28 per night, the park is worth the water, the quiet away from the interstate and the birds.

Leaving the rural landscape, we return to I-10 and hurdle 140 miles eastward to Austin, home to Linda’s beautiful daughter and beautiful family. The two granddaughters do not care for us to acknowledge their growth, but we know they are proud to be taller. Great company and fun fill the week.

14 March 2015

The departure from Austin and on into the high volume of individual vehicles and their speeding and aggressive driving manuevers, especially in the region of San Antonio, is horrible. I take a wrong turn and am shunted to traverse the north and west sides of the city instead of the east and southern sides of San Antonio. By some dumb luck, we finally head south on I-37 before getting off the interstate and onto US 281. Southward, we motor through Alice, who does not live there anymore, through Falfurrias and arrive in Edinburg in the lower Rio Grande Valley. State parks in the region are not set up for RVs. At least that is our impression. Plenty of private RV parks might be welcome, but we have yet to reside in such establishments. Our place for the night is the Edinburg Wal-Mart. It is safe and where we find our first annual Tropical Kingbird and a hawk that looks suspiciously, but uncountable like a Common Black Hawk.

15 March 2015

This is not the first Ides of March spent in Texas. It is overcast as we park at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park. A female Blue Bunting, a rare visitor to southern Texas, was last seen in the park a couple of days earlier. The park permits walking and biking. It also provides a tram, which Linda and I take to Kiskadee Trail near the last reported bunting. Other people are searching for the little brown bird that either has left the region or is overlooked.

The only other bird to chase is a Gray-crowned Yellowthroat in Estero Llano State Park. It is now raining, but I decide to try for this tropical warbler we missed in a 2005 visit to the lower Rio Grande. Linda stays dry and to tidy-up the RV. Checking in at the visitor center, a staff member said the bird had been seen this morning. With such encouraging news, I trudge the muddy trails and detour around giant pools of collected rain. Nearly soaked and about to throw in a wet towel, the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat finally reveals itself.

One more day might have revealed other birds found only in the lower Rio Grande, but the two state parks we visit do not accommodate RV camping. There is a private and quite costly park just outside Bentsen. Both parks also fail to accommodate a Grove-billed Ani, a species I have unsuccessfully searched for on numerous occasions in Texas. This is becoming my nemesis bird. I wonder if I will ever see a Grove-billed Ani.

The onslaught of rain does not invite lingering in the lower Rio Grande. We also have to maintain a schedule, albeit loose, so that I might reach observing 700 species in ABA territory before I reach 71 years of age. We know that Florida will put me over the mark, but we are still in Texas. Kingsville is our address for the night.

16-19 March 2015

We thread our route away from the traffic of Houston and stop at Brazos Bend State Park. Ten years ago, Linda and I enjoyed a plethora of birds, but our present day observations are not particularly exciting. Later, we manage a wrong turn or two in Freeport before dead reckoning to Galveston. Ever eastward, we take the free ferry to Port Bolivar. Good shorebirding, ranked high for the region, looks impossible. Two legged revelers on spring break crowd the sandpiper and plover habitat. We motor on, drive through High Island and see the large red cardinal painted on the water tower. In a few weeks, High Island will be crowded with birders and with spring migrants stopping in the habitat protected by the Houston Audubon Society. A city park in Winnie is home before driving across the Gulf Coast to Florida.

Brazos Bend, TX                      Pinelands of northwestern FL

20-24 March 2015

Too many years ago, early August 2007 to be somewhat precise, Florida came to thought while Linda and I blend toward slumber late one night. Sweet honeysuckle wafts into our open bedroom window while crickets and tree frogs chirp in the cool air draining down the wooded slope above. Linda asks about Florida birding. I said it would be great in April, that way we could maximize the number of birds to add to our life lists. Linda was missing a few Neotropical migrants, not to mention she had never birded in Florida.

“How long would it take to cover southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas?”

Remembering my last and only time in Florida around 50 years ago swallowed up two months. I told Linda it would take at least three weeks to go after the target species. Linda asks because she was contemplating me going to Florida alone. That just would not do. We both knew that was a long time to be separated.

She said, “Well, Florida can’t wait forever.”

True, but as much as I wanted to revisit Florida, I wanted Linda at my side more. Either way, she had a point about Florida, especially the southern peninsula. Global warming, with the concurrent rise in sea level was also not going to wait forever.

Florida would definitely have to wait when Linda and I could be there together. In 2012 we again discuss birding Florida along with trepidations about pythons, but we are deep in plans for birding in Alaska. We think of a later someday for the possibilities of Red-footed Booby and maybe a Black Noddy at Dry Tortugas and hope that a La Sagra’s Flycatcher will be around for us to review for a later someday.

Now, it is 2015 and Florida cannot wait.  Excitement over powers all thoughts, well not all thoughts, as we drive eastward. We cross the mighty Mississippi River. The water below is from the 31 states that form the watershed of the river. Our route is on I-10, the same Interstate traveled from Arizona and into Texas. Parts of that highway shows its age and lack of repair. Bone jarring bumps and holes were especially apparent in parts of Texas. The only means to avoid potential damage from the unkempt route was to slow down. We always travel with the lights on and I had plastered the RV with red and white reflection tape. It is better to be seen and not have heard the screeching of tires and gnashing of metal and glass.

At last, on 20 March the revenant, yours truly, is revisiting Florida. It has been 52 years since being in Florida. Then, a 1955 VW beetle was my RV. Today, travel is on faster highways in a much larger and more comfortable RV.

We attempt our first Florida night in Blackwater State Park, which is fewer sound decibels north of noisy I-10. The small pinelands campground is full. The host suggests a place just off the narrow pavement. It is an electric utility right-of-way at the junction of two country roads. An occasional pickup goes by an otherwise peaceful location. This is boondocking at nearly its best. If only it could be just a bit wilder.

That morning, the button to push for opening the microwave door decided, apparently on it own, to not function. Luckily, we had already nuked scrambled eggs and the immediate problem is my second cup of tea is being held captive by the uncooperative door release. Oh well, we thought. It is something we can manage. If we cannot fix it, we will replace it. However, this is just the beginning of our day.

As we speed into the western outskirts of Tallahassee, drivers of two different vehicles signal us. Not being a lip reader or understanding frantic waves and horn honking, we finally get it. Something is wrong and it is not the microwave. Pulling off at the next exit is revealing. The drain pipes are dangling from their connections. Fortunately, the loose pipes are on the outside of the valves; nothing is leaking. The almost affal situation is beyond my pay-grade, and it is, of course, afternoon on a Saturday. We finally locate a highly recommended RV repair facility, but they are not open until Monday. We leave a note and locate the nearest Wal-Mart. The manager is understanding and agrees to multiple nights on the lot. One of the needed parts has to be ordered, but it does not make the shipment from, I recall, Atlanta. In the meantime, we do have to replace the contrary microwave. Finally, on 25 March at 1:30 in the afternoon, the repair is complete. Being marooned in Tallahassee is not fun. Once the bill, which, it turns out, is reasonable, at least compared to our expectations. We tell ourselves that $428 is a bargain compared to what could have happen had the break been between the outside valve and our black water tank. We happily head east to a southbound highway bearing the US numbers 19, 27 and 98. We enter the watershed of the Suwannee River.

26 March 2015

The reattached drain pipes and the new microwave continue to function. We have now been living in our humble abode for over five months and this late March is the only trouble thus far. Now, we will be entering a climate and season to test the motor and the air conditioner. We have yet had a hint of heat induced trouble to come. As for ourselves, we have cooling vests and hats. The by-product of space exploration, our vests have kept us cool in Panama, July at the Salton Sea and summer in our own Rogue River Valley in southwestern Oregon. We easily found a vendor for our cooling gear on the internet.

We need not worry about high temperature of today’s comfortable weather. Hernando Beach is our target locality. Budgerigars are our target bird. These dime-store pets were once running wild in this part of Florida, but no more.

Further south, we enter the fray of vehicles of traffic in the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Somehow, we reach Ft. De Sota Park, a county park full of people. Will spring break ever end? Campgrounds are full, but we are welcome to use the showers near the beach, but we are told to be out of the park by sundown. The early hour allows time for showers, which are showers by cold water. We are grateful it is warm today. The sun sinks by the minute while I search in vain for a reported Grove-billed Ani, a rare bird in Florida, and a rare species anywhere insofar as I am concerned. At least, on the way in, Nanday Parakeet and Gray Kingbird are spied while they sit on power lines running parallel to the park road. Both species are new for our ABA list. Species number 700 is getting closer.

Sunset is nearing as we leave the park. We are not sure where we are going to stay for the night, but plan for somewhere east of Tampa. Almost always, we select our location for the night no later than the morning of the same day or, have a nocturnal destination by noon. From our meager experience, having such a plan is prudent. Our immediate plan is to travel west on Florida highway 60, but driving from Fort De Soto on the interstate raceway throws us into the heart of Tampa and a detour. By now, we are hungry and tired and it is dark. Any detour may be trouble, but the circuitous detour took us downtown and in every direction of the compass but due east. The dark and narrow detour and traffic is exhausting. We finally reach Brandon City and, and with permission, we park in a Sam’s Club parking lot.

27-29 March 2015

From densely populated Brandon City, we continue east to rural Florida where cattle and oranges are not overpowered by skyscrapers and pavement. The next three nights are in Lake Kissimmee State Park. Compared to a catalogue of other Florida state parks, Kissimmee Lake is less expensive than those southward. It may also be more to our liking since it is in the country where the air is fresh and noise pollution is low. We are near the headwaters of the Everglades and about 200 miles north of the tip of the Florida Peninsula where the river of grass reaches the sea. A park ranger tells us he saw a Snail Kite at Lake Kissimmee, a short hike from the campground. True to our information, a Snail Kite sails into view just as a thunderstorm begins to engulf the shore. Kites and lightening remind me of Ben Franklin, and the days I spent looking for Snail Kite in 1962. I never found one. At that time the population of what was then called Everglades Kite, was dangerously depleted. Fewer individuals equate to decreased chances of finding one. Put another way, more needles in a haystack make it possible to find at least one needle.

Today, the Everglades Kite is easier to find. The change of the species name to Snail Kite is not the reason. Focused attention by the US Fish and Wildlife Service along with Florida state is the reason the population of Snail Kite has increased. The kite, like so many species of plants and animals, is on a growing list of endangered wildlife. Florida ranks along with California, Texas, Virginia and Tennessee for leading the contiguous US in the most number of endangered species. Nonetheless, there is positive movements towards conservation in Florida.

Lake Kissimmee State Park offers more birds to enjoy, including several Swallow-tailed Kites, Osprey and Bald Eagles. However, a repeat of the 1.3 mile trek to the lake is not so productive the second time around. After an hour-long search along the shore for a Snail Kite, I realize how lucky I was to see the raptor on my first visit to the lake. That one bird is one of an estimated 1,000 surviving Snail Kites occurring in the expanse of southern Florida.

30 March to 1 April 2015

Departing Lake Kissimme State Park, we motor past the northern end of giant Lake Okeechobee. Water historically flowed southward from the lake, but today a large portion of the valuable fresh water is shunted to flow east to the Atlantic and some directed west to the Gulf of Mexico. The remainder flows south. On a positive note, legislation has passed that will help protect Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

Today we follow the historical flow of Lake Okeechobee. Only a few days are left that allow me to say I am 70 and I need two more species to reach the milestone of 700 birds within ABA territory. One the species might be a La Sagra’s Flycatcher, wintering in a postage stamp sized park in Lantana. A knowledgeable birder relates that the waif is gone and he provides information on locating nearby Egyptian Geese. The next day, following a night on a Sam’s Club parking lot, we drive to a local golf course to search for a small pond . The pond is surrounded by well kept lawns and portly men getting on and off their golf carts to hit their balls. The golfers look my direction as I strain for a view through a cyclone fence. No, I am not a scout looking for the next great senior eagle slicer. Their prowess on the green goes unnoticed by me since I am trying to see another introduced animal to Florida, but not the two-legged ones ready at the tee, but a two-legged one with feathers. The sun bears down and sweat runs into my eyes, but not enough to prevent seeing an Egyptian Goose becoming ABA number 699.

From Lantana, we head inland to Markham County Park. The park is within tire noise from Interstate 75 traffic. During my early 60s visit to Florida, I heard opposition about building I-75 across the Everglades. Regardless of the detriment to the Everglades, I-75 was constructed from Miami westward to Naples on the Gulf Coast before heading north to Michigan. The interstate covers 471 miles in Florida, with 78 miles crossing the endangered Everglades. Certain mitigations such as fences to prevent animals crossing the top of I-75 and a few passageways that allow animals to travel underneath the interstate help prevent some mortality of Everglades wildlife. Nonetheless, it is difficult to deny that I-75 or any other interstate does not have negative impacts on ecology. Interstate highways during 1962 did not enter my navigational plans then. Today, Florida is growing by more than 1,000 residents per day. In the last 50 years, primary and interstate highway miles increased 4.6 miles per day. Not just roads are carved into the Florida landscape. Canals are everywhere. Most are to drain fresh water to make more land available for more and more residents. On occasion, people have accidentally carved canals that have allowed sea-water to mix with the fresh water. Of course, rising sea-levels will also speed up the process of destroying the fresh water supply. Once occupied by Indians, others interested in Florida practiced genocide to the natives. The plight of Indians in Florida was so bad that, when the Spanish left the peninsula in 1763, the remaining original Indians left with them. The point concerning ruining the water supply is that careless conservation practices amount to genocide of many species including humans. If there happen to be survivors, will there a place to go, will the survivors leave with those, the developers who ruin the water supply, following the Indians who left with their ultimate enemies?

Life is more than looking up and seeing the dark cloud of doom and gloom so we try to shake away thoughts of the future and concentrate on the present. Today, we are happy to at least partially escape the crowd, although we prefer something on the order of remoteness, beauty enjoyed at Lake Kissimmee State Park. Adding to the discomfort is that the park charges $40 per night and the temperature and humidity rank high on the scale. We are plugged into electricity and crank on the air conditioner. Its roar serves as white noise and masks the unpleasant hum of the steady stream of interstate traffic and occasional dogs and humans, both of which bark. Markham Park is also at the edge of the Everglades. Perhaps it is better to state, at the current edge of the Everglades. Technically, the view is across the C-11, sometimes called the South New River, which seems an attempt to pen nature to a manmade waterway. The canal is one of many canals as the result of draining the state since 1881. Standing on the west side of the canal on a gravel covered dike provides a view into Water Conservation Area 2B, aka the Everglades. It did not take long to locate several individuals of Purple Swamphen, with some adults attending downy precocial young. This accidentally introduced species represents gallinules on steroids. They are large and their breeding range is expanding over Florida. At last, I have observed ABA 700, and before I turn 71 years of age! It took 10 years to reach the goal. It has been educational and great fun. Now, to new places, new birds and maybe a new goal . What about 800 species? We’ll see.

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Present edge of the Everglades and habitat of species number 700

Tomorrow we will be southbound, where white bread is light bread, where fairing off is clearing up and where mosquito hawk is a dragonfly. That last one reminds me of my prebirder years when I called that insect a snake doctor. In the meantime, I will eat a handful of pinder and call them peanuts.

 

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