Tuesday 1 May 2012

Matheson Hammock, Miami, April 12

A trip to Miami at the end of April would surely bring a bagful of migrants. An internet search introduced me to the Nutty Birder who has produced a migration timetable for the eastern states and confirmed that the warblers would be on the move. E-bird’s status bargraphs showed that they should be present in great numbers. So how did I miss them?

We landed late and arrived at the hotel with only a couple of hours of daylight left. The next day was forecast to be rained out, so a quick flit to Matheson Hammock could be my only chance for an outing this week. The cycle ride takes about 30 minutes, but I was stopped by a Blackpoll Warbler along the way. This filled me with confidence despite slim pickings during the rest of the ride.

The entrance to Matheson Hammock from Old Cutler Road opens onto a picnic area with a small lake. The trees here are often very productive and I had envisioned spending the evening around this area, but it was deathly quiet with only Northern Cardinals chipping their alarms. Apart from a very approachable Yellow-crowned Night Heron, there were no other birds seen here.

Surprised, I moved on to the car park by the shore (Google Earth ref; 25 40 49N 80 15 25W) hoping to find White Ibis and an assortment of herons in the bay. Grassy shallows and banks usually attract good numbers of birds, but here again, it was very quiet. A watersports school, specialising in Kite-surfing, has been set up in the car park and I wonder if the birds have been disturbed by the action out on the water.

Apart from a few Ruddy Turnstones on a bank, there were no waders and only a couple of herons flushed as I cycled past a gap in the mangroves. A Magnificent Frigatebird floated pterodactyl-like in the distance. The Brown Pelicans used the ground effect to skim across the surface of the water, hardly having to flap.

An Osprey provided the highlight of the evening by plunging into the water for a fish. It juggled its catch to make it more aerodynamic and shook itself dry in midair before carrying the fish away.

A rising series of buzzy notes called my attention to a Prairie Warbler which was singing, full-throatedly, from a mangrove right in the shoreline and reminded me that I should have been looking for migrants. A last look in the trees between the entrance and the Fairchild Tropical Gardens as the sun set only brought more Cardinals.

Birds seen;

Brown Pelican 8, Double-crested Cormorant 20, Magnificent Frigatebird 1, Great Blue Heron 1, Little Blue Heron 1, Yellow-crowned Night Heron 3, Black Vulture 1, Osprey 2, Ruddy Turnstone 6, Laughing Gull 4, Eurasian Collared Dove 6, Mourning Dove 4, Chimney Swift 3, Northern Mockingbird 2, Common Starling 15, Prairie Warbler 1, Blackpoll Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 12, Boat-tailed Grackle 50

Matheson Hammock is about 5 kms from Dadeland North Metrorail Station. Follow North Kendal Rd east to the T-junction. Turn left and cross the river, turning immediately right onto the continuation of North Kendall Rd. At the next T-junction turn right onto Old Cutler Rd. Matheson Hammock is 1 km on the left (Google Earth ref; 25 40 57N 80 16 22W).

See below for other posts from Matheson Hammock;

Visit the dedicated USA page for more posts from the area.

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