One of my target birds for my past weekend down in Florida, were the two adult male Vermilion Flycatchers hanging out at Orlando Wetlands Park. This park, which is located about 40 east of Orlando, is one of my all-time favorite birding locations. We arrived at 9:00am, it was beautiful and warm out, but occasional rain would shower down every 20 minutes. We had heard exactly where the two birds were hanging out from the Florida birding listserve, so we made a bee-line for that area. On the walk there, we stopped every few minutes to scan the marshes and ponds and check out awesome birds. Limpkin, King Rails, and Soras were calling all around us in the tall grass – occasionally a Limpkin would fly up out of the reeds high enough to be seen. Thousands of American Coots and hundreds of Common Gallinule filled the hyacinth-covered ponds. Mixed in with the coots and gallinules were another of my target birds, Purple Gallinule. Purple Gallinule are one of my favorite Florida birds and I typically only see them once a year.
Once we got back to the area that was supposed to have the Vermilion Flycatchers, we spotted on flying around the tops of some young cypress trees. We quickly walked over and got excellent looks through our binoculars, but the bird was a little too distant for great camera shots. The entire time we watched the bird, flycatching from tree to tree in this wide open expanse of wetlands was weird – I am so used to seeing them in desert oases in Southeast Arizona. It was so awesome to see this species in the east, especially at Orlando Wetlands Park. Soon, we spotted the second adult male Vermilion Flycatcher. This one was within eyesight of the first one, but about 200 meters away. We walked back over to check that one out. It was too distant for photos, but we saw it chasing ‘Western’ Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
On the walk out we spotted an adult Crested Caracara gliding in from the west and then it landed along one of the roads. This was the first caracara that Anna and I had seen so far this year! Mottled Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Wood Ducks, and Northern Shovelers were mixed in with massive numbers of Blue-winged Teal throughout the park. Nine species of heron, egret, or ibis were all present in good numbers including my personal favorite, Tricolored Herons. Overall, it was another beautiful morning in Florida and a great morning to be outside. Here is a link to our full checklist, with more photos.