Nobody’s saying anything’s wrong with Oregon winters, what with all the snow this year. It’s just that we saw a window in Jim & Carol’s busy schedule and used miles to score a couple weeks in Florida with Sooney’s sister. In typical frenzic fashion, we took a day to catch up, sneaked in some burgers and a movie (Room), and then blasted up to Jupiter (Florida, that is) to catch a few spring training baseball games. It was pretty weird seeing Barry Bonds in a Marlins’ uniform. But, hey, when a team’s perennially in the cellar you can’t blame them for hiring a batting coach who’s been known to hit a few out of the park. He looked healthy and it’ll be fun to see what influence he has on this young ball club.
On our way back to Coral Gables, we packed in a day at two water treatment plants (Green Cay & Wakodahatchee wetlands) for some extraordinary birding.
This one-minute video captures an Anhinga couple modeling some exotic dance steps for their fluffy fledglings. Check out their footwork. One fledge makes a hasty exit from an upper branch at the 12-second mark, clearly embarrassed by its parents’ antics.
Shortly after returning to Coral Gables, Carol informed us that a bird neither Sooney or I had ever seen lived right downtown. The White-winged Parakeet is a small parrot native to the Amazon River basin. Caged birds have been released and the birds established self-sustaining populations in several large US cities, including Miami. En-route to a fabulous Italian dinner in Miami Beach, we parked near a busy intersection, walked through a theater terrace that featured the parakeet’s favorite habitat (mature palm trees), and looked up. Within moments, amid boisterous chattering that masked nearby traffic noise, several birds made an appearance on fronds while others bombarded us with the red palm berries they were madly devouring. Such sacrifices are common to serious birders, of course. The other three “life” birds sighted on this trip have been the Gray-headed Swamphen, the Mottled Duck, and the Eastern Screech-Owl. Not bad for the first 3 days of this journey.
I’ll be posting an ongoing collection of bird “portraits” throughout this journey. Clicking on graphic above will take you to a gallery displaying thumbnails. Clicking on a thumbnail will open the gallery into a pseudo-slideshow (where you may click through although I use the keyboard’s arrow keys to navigate). Enjoy, and stay tuned.