February 13: Terry Baltimore and I left Boca Raton at 6 AM to meet Captain Brian Esposito at Flamingo, at the very southern tip of Everglades National Park. The shallow waters, mudflats, islands, and a maze of waterways and mangroves here are the wintering grounds for hundreds of thousands of waterbirds and shorebirds comprising dozens of species. The clear blue sky, calm pastel waters, unspoiled setting, and the sheer volume of wildlife is nothing short of spectacular, and a boat really is necessary to fully experience the grandeur of the panorama.
Our main focus of the day was a flock of 19 American Flamingos, a quite uncommon species for North America, currently in Lake Ingraham, almost at the Gulf side of the tip of the Florida peninsula. Brian’s flat bottom boat provided a perfect viewing platform as the flock foraged and intermittently took to the air, at one point flying in to as close as sixty yards from our spot.
Just offshore shortly after that we watched the mesmerizing spectacle of an adult Peregrine Falcon methodically circling and making repeated snatches at a struggling injured shorebird in the water, before finally nabbing and flying off with it on the eighth or ninth pass.
Other highlights among the dozens of species included two Great White Herons, nine Horned Grebes, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, some three dozen Roseate Spoonbills, one Reddish Egret, two huge flocks of Black Skimmers totaling at least five hundred birds, two dolphins, and a crocodile.
Finally, just outside the park gates as we were leaving was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, which uncooperatively played hide-and-seek in the trees by the roadside, but it was getting too dark by then for photos anyway.