Fork-tailed Flycatcher that is. If this were a movie loosely based on the Star Trek movie franchise, it would be called: Bird Trek: Nemesis.
This fork tailed fiend has eluded me at every turn until today. Twice in February Sue and I stood in the middle if a swelteringly hot field not finding a bird that pretty much everyone else seemed to find with ease. Twice when one had been seen on the east coast I was on the west coast. And finally, I nearly succumbed to heat exposure and dehydration,(okay that was partially my fault), chasing it near Orlando.
But thanks to the following series of events, the Forked One is now Big Year Bird # 540.
First, I contacted Sandy Komito about birding together in south Florida this week. Bad timing, as he is on his way to Africa,(like me, he can't sit still for long). Sandy gave me the name and number of his birding buddy Larry, who invited me down to Homestead to see Shiny Cowbirds at his feeder after I birded the Miami area, today.
I was looking for White-crowned Pigeon: Swing and a miss; Red-whiskered Bulbul: Steeerike Two; and finally Spot-breasted Oriole: Strike Three! One out.
I was now on my way to Homestead to meet Larry at his place and called for directions, when he told me he was on his way to Big Pine Key, two hours south, where a Fork-tailed Flycatcher had been seen earlier this morning. I decided to sacrifice on the cowbird, and with two away late in the game, I raced south on Highway 1, hoping not to be late again. On my first pass through Big Pine Key I completely missed them, but did see a lovely Key Deer and his mommy.
I called Larry from a parking area where the bird had originally been reported and he said to get there quickly, as he and his son were looking at it as he spoke. They were two minutes down the road at the Visitor's Center. How convenient and kind of the bird to locate himself near free parking.
Once I parked, they waved me over and pointed up to the wire, where, finally I was just on time for the bird. Fact was, they had been searching for two hours while I drove in air conditioned comfort. About time, I say.
But not only that, the fork-tailed was consorting with, of all things, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. How about them apples for a bonus double rarity. There was even a Gray Kingbird as another bonus,(541). While we took photos others arrived, but within an hour, or less both all but the Gray and Eastern Kingbirds were gone, and the late arrivals had to feel the sting of fork-tailed disappointment.
Tomorrow I am heading down to Key West after spending the night in a lovely little resort on the Gulf, in my own private cabin that was recommended and booked by the nice lady at the Visitor's Center I was brought to by my new best friend. I got to sleep happy and with a full stomach, thanks to dinner just up the road, which included amazing lobster cakes, a rum runner and the best-ever key lime pie.
Oh, on the way to Miami I did stop a lot and at Oscar Scherer State Park got some nice photos if the Florida Scrub Jay and along the way, a few others with my brand new Sony Alpha 57, which I really love like no other camera I have ever used.
The Elusive Fork-tailed Flycatcher, finally brought to justice before my camera:
Top is the Scissor-tailed, below the Fork-tailed. Forks are longer than scissors, I guess.
Florida Scrub Jay: