Key West, FL 2021.05.29

My friend @scottsimmons and I decided to take a biotour of the Florida Keys. This series of journal posts chronicles the expedition.

6AM Campsite

Our plan was to use a tent camp site as a base of operations and drive to different Keys each day, looking mainly for Leps and Aves.

The plan worked, but not entirely as expected. As we do, Scott and I brought backpacking gear. When we arrived at Boyd's campsite, we were greeted with RVs, a pool, and a laundromat. So much for roughing it. Nevertheless, we started at 6AM looking and listening for birds. About 20 ft from our campsite was a nesting Gray Kingbird. Laughing Gulls were out over the water, and some White-Crowned Pigeons popped up from the tops of Mangroves just across the water. Familiar species like Mourning Dove, Red-Winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and Northern Mockingbird were heard and seen. But unfamiliar species also visited the campsite like Eurasian Collared Dove, White Ibis, and Magnificent Frigatebird. Sadly, I never got to see any Frigatebirds puff up their necks.

The absolute strangest find of the morning was a medium-sized black bird with a thick yellow beak sitting passively in the grass. It looked disheveled and made no objection when we respectfully approached for pictures. I stared at it. Scott stared at it. We both declared our ignorance. Suddenly Scott says "That's a chicken!"

Indeed: feral chickens ("Red Junglefowl") are all over Key West. They get onto hoods of cars, up in trees, into campsites. And most amusingly, they chime in for morning chorus.

8AM Key West Botanical Gardens

It turns out the gardens are closed until 10AM. However, we parked for a bit and tried to get pictures of the very common yet annoyingly flighty Florida Duskywing. These are not "true" Duskywings, but it's not easy to tell the difference in the males. They seem to be most active in the morning from 7-11 AM and seem to prefer edges of woods. These were hypnotized by a planting of Bahama Wild Coffee at the front gate of the gardens.

Also seen or heard: Monarch, Mourning Dove, Osprey, Rock Pigeon, White-Crowned Pigeon.

Fort Zachary Taylor 9AM

This area was by far the most productive site we found in Key West for butterflying ("lepping"? I would enjoy calling myself a lepper). There are some butterfly garden areas with both shaded and open habitat. And to the northwest against the ocean is a large meadow area with some very nice Bay Cedar.

The fun part of coming to a new area is that you don't know what is common. This is the Keys -- that small yellow thing could be anything! But we quickly found that the whites were seemingly all Great Southern Whites. The blues were overwhelmingly Cassius Blues. Scott and I spent way too much time waiting for a Blue to settle down because it seemed smaller than the Cassius Blues. It turned out to be ... Cassius.

The small Sulphurs divided into a few Dainty Sulphurs and a larger number of Little Yellows. These fooled me for a bit because the orange HW spot was faint, especially in comparison to ones seen near me in Maryland. The large Sulphurs were seemingly all Large Orange Sulphurs -- none of which wanted to pose.

We saw / heard:

Great Southern White
Large Orange Sulphur
Dainty Sulphur
Little Yellow
Cassius Blue
Ceraunus Blue
Gray Hairstreak
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
Julia Longwing
Gulf Fritillary
Queen
Common Buckeye
Dorantes Longtail
Hammock Skipper
White Checkered-Skipper
Fiery Skipper
Southern Broken-Dash

We also saw a Great White Heron

Key West Botanical Garden 12:30PM

Finally! The garden is organized as a hardwood hammock with a lot of interesting plants. The species mix shifted accordingly.

We saw

Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-Barred Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Lyside Sulphur
Statira Sulphur
Great Southern White
Zebra Longwing
Monarch
Florida Duskywing
Dorantes Longwing
Hammock Skipper
Monk Skipper

Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird

Little Hamaca State Park 2:45 PM

This is a White-Crowned Pigeon Refuge ... next to an airport. The White-Crowned Pigeon is declared endangered because of disappearing habitat and small numbers (est about 7500 pairs). Nevertheless, it seems prevalent all over Key West, including downtown.

The habitat is salt marsh with Mangroves growing here. White-Crowned Pigeons like to hide out in Mangroves and poke their heads up in the morning and evening.

Saltwort also grows here, host plant for Eastern Pygmy-Blue, which was a nice find.

We saw:

Eastern Pygmy Blue
Gray Hairstreak
Fiery Skipper
Large Orange Sulphur
Great Southern White
Cassius Blue

Gray Kingbird
White-Crowned Pigeon
Red-Winged Blackbird
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal
Black-Whiskered Vireo

Downtown Key West 4:45 PM

Saw Monarchs along the waterfront, along with Green Heron, White-Crowned Pigeon, Cormorant, Eurasian Collared Pigeon.

See the whole gallery from 2021.05.29 here (Scott) and here (me).

Publicado por jrcagle jrcagle, 12 de junio de 2021

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Gallo Y Gallina Domésticos (Gallus gallus var. domesticus)

Observ.

jrcagle

Fecha

Mayo 29, 2021 08:54 AM EDT

Descripción

Me: What is that?
Scott: No idea .... wait ... it's a chicken!

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