I bid Audrey, Bobbie, and Dixie (Audrey's dog) goodbye and headed out looking for a gas station that perhaps had coffee for sale. I found one and as I emerged with cup in hand, who should greet me at my car but two Common Mynas, now a countable Florida exotic (net photo). So they got counted. With some coffee and a year bird under belt I headed north to Ft. Lauderdale where apparently the last remains of any Smooth-billed Anis in the country reside. It's a commercial area south of the airport and isn't a place where anyone would like to spend spare time. But I combed the area for well over an hour. Just as I was about to leave John Pushock whom I had met yesterday drove up. So he and I tried a little harder, but still without success. At least I have the area figured out when John Spahr and I return in April. During the time I was Ani searching, I glanced skyward from time to time. About 9:30am there were some vultures in the sky. A hawk joined them and then another. Lo and behold it was a pair of Short-tailed Hawk, a bird that can be gotten in Texas and Arizona, but is most easily seen in south Florida (net photo).
I got back in the car for the journey north. I had travelled perhaps 10 minutes when my cellphone rang. I had just called my doctor's office about a perscription and was expecting a callback. It wasn't the doctor's office; it was Audrey. The La Sagra's was being seen. It was now about 11am and I was a little more than an hour north of the site. So I had to make a tough decision and decided I couldn't get down there and back to Orlando in time to make my flight. Besides there wasn't any guarantee the bird would still be there if I did make the run. There are NO guarantees in birding, folks. So I bagged it and kept on going north. I'll have to admit that I pulled off the road and thought about it, made several calculations, but stuck with my original decision.
Much further north near Vero Beach I experienced something new for me. A bird flew up out of the scrubby vegetation that's all along that area. It was easily identified as a Florida Scrub-Jay. I've seen many of them during my visits to Florida, but never from the interstate. And it's another Florida endemic, in fact a US endemic (web photo). We'll see it again in April at a little more leisurely pace when it can be savored as it must be.
I made it to the airport in time to gas up, check in the rental car, check in for my flight, and grab a Starbucks to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich Audrey had made for me. I enjoyed the meal. The first flight was on time. The second one is not. I'm writing this blog in the Newark airport where I'm hoping the half-hour delay posted is in fact all the delay we experience. Tonight, back in my own bed. Tomorrow John comes to Norfolk and we travel to the NC Outer Banks for the VSO pelagic trip. Species total is now 284.