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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Some 'Key' Night Sky Magic

Sire of many, many chicks.
After spending the bulk of the day birding in the Dry Tortugas, our mini-tour group returned to Key West, later enjoying dinner at a restaurant by a beach. While awaiting our orders, we were entertained by feral chickens: a Rooster, Hen and chicks.
Chicks in Cleopatra eye makeup; how typically Key West
Post dinner, our motley crew again assembled. All eyes were on the sky at the Key West airport on the lookout for Antillean Nighthawks. We scored a raccoon, but no nighthawks of any sort were seen or heard. Not giving up, Larry drove us north to a second secluded site he knew of on the Cudjoe Key. Soon  we quietly stood on a quiet street in the boonies, along side a waterway. Larry told us to listen for the nighthawk's unusual call of 'Pitty Pit Pit!'. Really the call was surprising, as Common & Lesser Nighthawks - species I'm used to, have calls more like a cross between a UFO and an intergalactic rubber-band. Then Larry called out, pointing to a dark arrow in the sky.

All eyes on the sky to view the first Antillean soaring by. Then a second bird floated in the distance, it too calling out to warn the other birds of its presence. Watching the nighthawks - no clue how many we saw in total - my camera clicked merrily away. Did I manage any great picture? Nope! Wish I'd had my iPhone's mini-microphone with me for recordings of the bird's unique call. 

Here is one of my gawdawful grainy photos below. The white wing patches of the Antillean can very nearly almost be viewed.
 Antillean Nighthawk twilight shot
Once again, Larry had shown us a bird I honestly thought I was never going to get to see in Florida in this lifetime. Hurray! A wonderful bird... number 648 is a sound addition to my AB life list. 

Here is a stunning Antillean Nighthawk shot I scrounged up on line - so you know what an Antillean Nighthawk looks like when photographed by the light of day.
by Dax M. Roman E.
What a great day today was, all the way from the Dry Tortugas to the Cudjoe Key.

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