Birding the Everglades: Long Pine Key

The Main Entrance to Everglades National Park is just fifteen minutes west of Florida City, FL.  Just ten minutes inside the gate is Long Pine Key, a camping and hiking area that offers great bird watching opportunities.  I arrived this weekend for an afternoon of hiking and was welcomed by an enormous flock of Tree Swallows swarming in circles above the small pond.  There must have been ten thousand of them, moving in concert, reminiscent of a school of sardines stretching hundreds of feet up into the sky.

Tree Swallows – Can you guess how many?

Tree Swallows – Dipping and Sipping

A juvenile Little Blue Heron doing a little fishing.

A Palm Warbler clinging to the reeds.

A Yellow-throated Warbler peeking out from a Pine Tree.

Birding the Everglades: Chekika State Recreation Area

Chekika State Recreation Area is another great birding location just a few minutes from the suburban sprawl in southern Miami-Dade County, FL.  Until last weekend I never knew it existed, despite growing up less than thirty minutes away.  Chekika is part of Everglades National Park and is open to the public between December and May.  The Chekika facility includes a small pond, a hammock with a hiking trail and a large lawn suitable for picnics. It is surrounded by sprawling fields of sawgrass. My short visit there on Sunday yielded several different bird species, including some firsts for me.

A Killdeer, one of my new favorite birds.

“Hmmm, let’s see if there is anything to eat over here.”  (Little Blue Heron)

“Ummm, Maybe I’ll try somewhere else.” (Little Blue Heron)

I originally identified this as a Red-tailed Hawk, but stand corrected.  It’s a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

He watched me closely, but never left his post.

Green Heron, active as usual.

Great Crested Flycatcher

A pair of juvenile Common Moorhens stopped by for a drink.