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A Report from


Andy & Alan Wraithmell

Despite being a family holiday Dad and I managed to see 108 species. We spent the 1st week in the Orlando area and the 2nd on the Gulf Coast at Bradenton. Our fortnight also included 2 days at Key Largo which enabled us to spend 1 ½  days birding in the Everglades National Park. There is plenty of opportunity for birders on a similar family holiday to see a good array of species. For example we saw plenty of birds at Disneyland and at the Kennedy Space Center. I recommend buying Bill Pranty's A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO FLORIDA, which proved invaluable to us.



Situated in Downtown Orlando the Mead Botanical Gardens is a city park and is an excellent site to spend a couple of hours whilst the family are still in bed! It can be found on Garden Drive, which is off Mills Avenue (Road 92). There is an excellent network of boardwalks through wet woodland and there is also a large deciduous wood, which also attracts a good variety of birds. However wear a long sleeve shirt and trousers, as the mosquitoes are a bit nasty. We had several sought after species around the car park including Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird and Northern Flicker. We also saw our only River Otter in a small pond to the north of the car park. According to Pranty's guide large falls of migrants occur here and upto 23 species of warbler have been recorded. Barred Owl and Yellow-throated Warbler breeds.


The estate was where we were based during our first week and we soon found a little patch to spend an hour or two at whilst the family did their own thing. It proved to be an excellent little spot and we saw several species we didn't connect with anywhere else. They included Acadian Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Sandhill Crane and Chimney Swift.


I suppose our day here proved that no matter where you go on a foreign holiday always take your bins. In the car park we had very confiding Laughing Gulls and Kildeer. Around the small restaurants we had our only Chipping Sparrows of the trip as well as Brown-headed Cowbird and Boat-tailed Grackle. The latter was quite partial to crisps! We also had the inevitable array of Heron species and a magnificent Bald Eagle on its nest tree.


This was recommended as a top site for migrants in the Pranty guide so we decided to spend one of our few free mornings there. It was a good decision as we had several species, which we wouldn't have seen otherwise. They included Magnolia Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and a stunning adult male Prothonotary Warbler. We only wished we could've visited the site more often as it looks excellent for migrants.


After our visit here I nicknamed it the Spurn of Florida. It is quite simply the best site on the Gulf Coast for connecting with migrants. It was also the only site where we saw American birders. Earlier that week they had witnessed a big fall and 26 warbler species were recorded as well as a Painted Bunting. There is plenty of cover for migrants and a superb wetland area for wader's etc. We were there on a particularly quite day according to the locals but we still saw some superb birds such as Bay-breasted Warbler (Male), Wood Thrush and a very tame adult male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The wetland had Short-billed Dowitcher's, Greater Yellowlegs and Western Sandpipers amongst others.


A word of warning the mosquitoes here are deadly, take plenty of repellent and wear suitable clothing or you will look like a second hand dartboard! Despite this we had an excellent day in the park and saw several sought after species. Not far from the entrance we had fantastic views of Snail Kite and in the Visitors complex at Flamingo we saw Yellow-throated Warblers which are one of the most attractive birds I've seen. Check the cover around the campsite as we saw several warbler species there and keep an eye on the sky for raptors.


Species Comments
Pied-billed Grebe A single on a small lake on the Lindfield's estate, Orlando on 3rd and 4 on the Eco pond in the Everglades NP.
Magnificent Frigatebird common on the Gulf Coast often mobbing Brown Pelicans.
Brown Pelican common at Cape Canaveral, Everglades and Gulf Coast sites.
Anhinga common where there is suitable habitat.
Double-crested Cormorant as above.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron 6 on Beer Can Island were our only records.
Green-backed Heron Common at most sites with an exceptionally tame bird on a canal at the Magic Kingdom.
Tricolored Heron Common at most wetland sites.
Little Blue Heron Fairly common at most wetland sites.
Reddish Egret 3 on the Terra Ceia Causeway in Bradenton on 10th October
Cattle Egret Very Common.
Snowy Egret  Very Common.
Great White Egret Very Common.
Great Blue Heron Common.
Wood Stork  Common but is in decline.
Glossy Ibis Fairly Common.
White Ibis  Fairly Common.
Roseate Spoonbill 2 feeding alongside the Terra Ceia causeway at low water on 10th October. One of the highlights
Sandhill Crane 3 were feeding in a field alongside a campervan park near Lindfields Estate on 6th.
Mallard Common especially at the theme parks.
Mottled Duck 6 were ever present on a small lake behind our villa in Bradenton.
Blue-winged Teal 6 were on the Eco pond, Everglades NP on 13th.
Wood Duck A female was on a small pond in the Lindfields Estate on 3rd.
American Purple Gallinule A single showed well on an airboat trip in the Everglades 12th and a juvenile at Eco Pond on 13th.
Moorhen Common.
American Oystercatcher Surprisingly we only saw on a single at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Semi-palmated Plover A maximum of c50 were noted at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Kildeer  8 showed very well in the carpark at the Kennedy Space Center on 8th.
Grey Plover Small numbers were noted at several Gulf Coast sites.
Willet Common on Gulf Coast beaches.
Greater Yellowlegs  Our only record was of 3 birds on the mudflats at Fort De Soto on 11th
Spotted Sandpiper A very confiding bird at Beer can island on 10th was our only record.
Short-billed Dowitcher c10 at Fort De Soto on 10th and 11th.
Turnstone Common on Gulf Coast beaches.
Sanderling As above.
Western Sandpiper A single on Beer Can Island on 10th, 13 showed down to 5 ft! on the Terra Ceia causeway also on 10th and a group of c100 were at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Least Sandpiper c50 were with Western Sandpipers at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Laughing Gull Very Common.
Ring-billed Gull An Adult showed well on Fort De Soto beach on 11th and was in a typical mood, harassing anything that moved!
Herring Gull 2 adults were noted in Sarasota bay on 15th.
Forster's Tern Very common on the gulf coast.
Sandwich Tern Recorded in small numbers in Sarasota bay on 15th.
Royal Tern Very Common on the Gulf Coast.
Black Skimmer   A maximum of 500 were roosting on a sand bar off Fort De Soto on 11th.
Turkey Vulture Very Common. C1,000 were circling over Orlando on 5th.
American Black Vulture Common but recorded in small groups.
Bald Eagle Common. Several in the Orlando area.
Snail Kite An adult showed well hunting along a ditch in the Everglades NP on 12th.
Red-shouldered Hawk Fairly Common
Red-tailed Hawk Common.
Osprey Very Common.
American Kestrel A single at Beer Can Island on 10th and 6 in the Everglades NP on 12th & 13th were our only records.
Merlin A juvenile over Lindfields Estate on 3rd.
Peregrine Falcon A male was hunting over the Everglades on 12th.
Wild Turkey 3 at the entrance to MGM studios was our only record.
Rock Dove  Common.
Mourning Dove Common.
Common Ground Dove Fairly Common.
Belted Kingfisher Common on or near suitable habitat. Often seen perched on wires.
Red-bellied Woodpecker A single at Lindfields on 3rd & 6th, 2 at Beer Can Island on 10th and 4 in the Everglades NP on 13th.
Northern Flicker 5 at Mead Botanical Gardens on 5th were our only records.
Downy Woodpecker 2 on the Lindfields Estate on 3rd.
Great Crested Flycatcher A single showed well allowing identification on 10th at Beer Can Island.
Acadian Flycatcher A single showed well in scrub on the Lindfields Estate on 3rd.
Eastern Wood-peewee  A single at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Tree Swallow 4 flew south over our apartment in Lindfields on 3rd and c10 were feeding over the Flamingo Visitor Center on 13th.
Chimney Swift 2 flew south with Tree Swallows over Lindfields on 3rd.
Blue Jay Surprisingly only 1 record, a single outside our apartment in Bradenton on 15th.
American Crow Common.
Fish Crow Common in the Everglades and at Key Largo.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Very Common.
Hermit Thrush  A single showed well feeding amongst leaf litter in Mead Botanical Gardens on 5th.
Wood Thrush A single showed well at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Swainson's Thrush A single proved elusive in a small thicket at Fort De Soto on 10th and 11th.
Loggerhead Shrike Common.
Gray Catbird A single responded to pishing at Mead Botanical Gardens on 5th, a single showed well at Fort De Soto on 11th and 4 were feeding at the campsite in the Everglades NP on 13th.
Northern Mockingbird Very Common and can do an excellent impression of a police siren!
Brown Thrasher A single at the Flamingo Visitor Center, Everglades NP on 13th was our only record.
European Starling Common in Orlando.
White-eyed Vireo Very Common.
Red-eyed Vireo  A single at Lindfields n 3rd, 10 + in Mead Botanical Gardens on 5th, and a single at Fort De Soto on 10th.
Prothonotary Warbler  A stunning male showed very well at Beer Can Island on 10th. One of our highlights.
Northern Parula A 1st winter bird at Fort De Soto on 11th was our only record.
Black and White Warbler A single at Fort De Soto on 10th and 4 in the Flamingo Car park, Everglades NP n 13th.
Magnolia Warbler A 1st winter showed well at Beer Can Island on 10th.
Yellow-throated Warbler  2 stunning males showed well in bushes at the Flamingo Visitor Center, Everglades NP on 13th. Our bird of the trip.
Prairie Warbler  4 1st winter birds were noted in the Everglades NP on 13th.
Palm Warbler  Common. A maximum of c50 was noted at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Ovenbird A single proved to be very elusive at times at Fort De Soto on 10th & 11th.
Common Yellowthroat  Common particularly in the Everglades NP.
American Redstart A 1st Winter/female showed well in the same tree as a Northern Parula at Fort De Soto on 11th.
Bay-breasted Warbler A superb adult male showed well for at least 30 minutes at Fort De Soto on 10th. So well that it caused me to miss a stunning male Hooded Warbler!
Hooded Warbler  Dad gripped me off with a stunning male, see above.
Chestnut-sided Warbler  A 1st winter male showed well at Fort De Soto on 10th.
Tennessee Warbler   At least 4 were at Fort De Soto on 10th and a single at Eco Pond, Everglades NP on 13th.
Indigo Bunting A female showed well to Dad! At Fort De Soto on 10th whilst I was preoccupied with an Ovenbird.
Chipping Sparrow A single came to crisps! At MGM studios on 5th and 2 were feeding near rubbish bins at Kennedy Space Center on 8th.
Swamp Sparrow A single showed well near the campsite at Flamingo in the Everglades NP on 13th.
Eastern Meadowlark 2 males were singing on wires near the entrance to the Everglades NP on 12th.
Red-winged Blackbird  Common.
Brown-headed Cowbird A pair at the Kennedy Space Center on 8th was our only record, probably overlooked.
Common Grackle Very Common.
Brewer's Blackbird  At least 20 was noted at MGM studios on 5th.
Boat-tailed Grackle 25+ were noted scavenging around rubbish bins at Kennedy Space Center on 8th.
House Sparrow  Common.
Summer Tanager  A 1st winter male and a female were a real treat in scrub near the Lindfields Estate on 3rd.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  An adult male was being mobbed by Palm Warblers at Fort De Soto on 10th.
Barn Swallow  Large numbers were recorded over the Everglades NP on 12th and 13th. Unfortunately close scrutiny didn't reveal any other species.
Northern Oriole A female showed well in Mote Marine Aquariums car park, Sarasota on 15th.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
American Swallowtail
Gulf Fritillary
Common Buck-eye
Giant Swallowtail
Cloudless Sulphur
Long-tailed Skipper
Hairstreak spp.


River Otter - Mead Botanical Gardens
Grey Squirrel
Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Beaked Whale - under rehabilitation at Mote Marine Aquarium
Marsh Rabbit


Florida Alligator
American Crocodile - Everglades NP
Mud Turtle
Garter Snake
Green-backed Turtle*
Nurse Shark*
Blonde Ray*
Parrot Fish*
*All recorded on a glass bottom boat at Pennekamp Coral Reef off Key Largo


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