Quick post before heading home for a short time

Rough conditions meant cancellation of my 9 Feb Gulf Stream pelagic trip out of Hatteras. I did some sea-watching from various land points and piers, but no Dovkies nor Skuas.

Actually, I’m presently in my beloved study at my home, jet-lagged, but glad to be home for a couple of days. Long flights! I was looking at the heaven-sent Dark-billed Cuckoo yesterday morning at Delray West Park north of Ft Lauderdale Florida, and a Shiny Cowbird at some rice storage place an hour later, then frustrating myself with three hours of searching noisy, chaotic Markham Park for Spot-breasted Orioles. I later followed the eBird coordinates to find myself in a tree, overhanging a canal, peering across the water into a ritzy back yard, where a Spot-breasted Oriole had been regularly reported by the homeowner. I didn’t get busted, but then, I didn’t get the bird either. Had closeup views of awesome iguana.

Here’s what I wrote on the plane earlier. My flights began in Ft Lauderdale, and ended in Sydney 24 hours later:

I was planning on a day at sea on Saturday Feb 9, but the Hatteras weather had other ideas, with high winds dictating that the ‘reserve’ day – Sunday, was the go. Unfortunately, Sunday was my designated get-to-LA day with an 11PM onward flight to Sydney, so hopes of Great Skuas, Dovekies, and other Atlantic seabirds would be dashed – at least for a week. There was a silver lining to the story though, in that I could make a quick run down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a shot at the red-hot Dark-billed Cuckoo – a new species (well, almost new) for the ABA area, native to South America, found serendipitously by a local birder and initially thought to be a Mangrove Cuckoo.

The cuckoo, in its third day of attracting big crowds of birders from all over the country appeared on cue, and the gallery was more than pleased. I met up with a whole bunch of the regular suspects, including James Clements, Larry Peavler and Jim Defoe – for which the cuckoo represented his 800th species. I apparently missed Dick and Gaylee Dean by a very few minutes. After Larry Manfredi emailed to ask how we could possibly have missed each other, I looked at my ‘crowd’ shots, and there was Larry! Damn.


I love stakeout twitches. Not everyones cup of tea, but the excitement and comradely are wonderful. Here’s the moment when most of the  punters got onto the cuckoo.


His lordship, the Lord Dark-billed Cuckoo at West Delray Park, Florida. I’ve never seen a stakeout bird that was so comfortable and forthcoming in performing for a crowd.


What a moment! Jim Defoe in blue, gets his 800th ABA area bird – and what a bird! Chris Feeney was pretty stoked too!


Shiny Cowbird. The marks on face reflect the belting that the two or three Shiny Cowbirds were enduring from more numerous Brown-headed Cowbirds during my visit to the Chi Rice storage facility.

Will be heading back back to the US, and Hatteras, NC, for a double-header pelagic trip in a couple of days.