Matheson Hammock and Castellow Hammock Parks
The day started back at Griffin Park, where we again enjoyed both the oriole and the ani. Our second Belted Kingfisher was found perched on the perimeter fence and another (or the same) Prairie Warbler was found. Although we were to see them lower down in Florida we did have one final target bird – Gray Kingbird – and it was soon on the list.
Next stop was another unlikely-looking area, the parkland surrounding a hospital in south Miami. This is one of the sites that is good for exotic (introduced) species. We quickly picked up two countable White-winged Parakeets and uncountable (as yet) Hill Mynas and Muscovy Ducks, whilst Palm Warbler and Northern Flicker were added to the burgeoning trip list. Our next target species was at an even more unlikely-looking area in school grounds in urban Miami. After some effort searching the area we finally located another countable exotic, Red-whiskered Bulbul, three birds together at the top of a tree.
Having done the exotic-species-sites we drove to Matheson Hammock Country Park. Here we found some migrant passerines, including Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Deep in a dry hardwood hammock, we were just about to turn back from our walk after not seeing anything for about fifteen minutes when a small bird flew across the narrow path. Worth a check we thought and soon we were watching a male American Redstart, Black-and-white Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, a male Black-throated Blue Warbler and an Ovenbird. In a more open area we came across a tree full of parrots – actually 11 Yellow-chevroned Parakeets. Later, as we began to board the vans, four low-flying Swallow-tailed Kites appeared and we all had to scramble back out to view these superb birds soaring overhead – a real highlight of the trip so far.
Time for yet another speciality, this time at a bridge over a river. We set out in a line along the bank and were soon watching the West Indian race of Cave Swallow appearing and disappearing under the bridge, together with our first Tree Swallows.
We had one final place to visit Castellow Hammock Park. By now it was late afternoon and we didn't have much light left. We went straight to the parks' feeders and watched Brown-headed Cowbirds and White-winged Doves taking advantage of the free food. A quick check of the day's bird list meant we had to walk around the information centre and check the trees behind it. Worth a check since we picked up another American Redstart and, sitting quietly in a tree, a superb male Painted Bunting. A couple of 'scopes were put on the bird and everyone had excellent views of this amazingly colourful bird, a fitting end to another great day.