Florida Keys II
We were now to head back north up the Keys. First we checked out the harbour, watching various birds fly past. At least 30 Roseate Terns were seen, along with 110 Black Skimmers, Sandwich, Royal and Least Terns, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird and, of course, Laughing Gull.
Still on Key West we visited Clarence Higgs Park, a well-used park with a few trees. Not much here so we walked to the beach to check roosting terns and gulls. The highlight here was a close flypast by an Osprey. Next, we visited the Indigenous Flora Park where we found a few migrants. As we walked around we picked up Worm-eating, Blackpoll and Palm Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula and a couple of Gray Catbirds. In a nearby small but mature garden we added male American Redstart and male Cape May Warbler.
Heading north along the new highway US1, we deviated along some of the old route 1 to a lagoon to look for waders. We found Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, a Greater Yellowlegs, three Wilson's Plovers, a spotted Spotted Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets and two Least Sandpipers. Now we were on the hunt for the Cuban race of Yellow Warbler, a bird of the mangroves of this area. No luck with this species but as we headed back to the vans we came across a true gem: a bright, male Blackburnian Warbler – we spent a long time watching this bird down to a couple of metres.
By now our drive had taken us to Big Pine Key where we stood in an open area waiting for nighthawks. We saw just three: two Common Nighthawks and our target bird an Antillean Nighthawk, albeit brief views. We made a quick final stop at Marathon Airport to see if we could improve on our views of Antillean Nighthawks around the floodlights but there were no nighthawks present at all.