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In 1998, Greg zig-zagged 130,000 miles across the USA, while trying to hold down a full-time job, aspiring to reach at least 700 species of birds in one calendar year. "The Big Year," a novel by Mark Obmascik detailed his travails alongside two competitors. The book was later turned into a movie of the same title that starred Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson!

Florida – Day 5

We got a very early start this morning at 5:00am and headed west across Florida. Our first destination was Bunche Beach. We checked along the entrance road for the Mangrove Cuckoo that was seen yesterday but we dipped on it. At the beach we walked both directions with no success for the American Flamingo that has been seen for over a week. We did pick up some nice birds like Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s Plover, Piping Plover, and got better looks at American Oystercatcher.

We drove through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and got to see large stands of red mangrove. And we found many tree crabs along one of the side trails–a favorite food of Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. And whaddya know? There was a Yellow-crowned Heron there, too. We had visited Bunche Beach near low tide, but the level of water at Ding Darling was high and there were few birds in the rain. Yes. It rained off-and-on all day.

We had a quick lunch and drove to our next destination, Six Mile Cypress for reports of a couple Short-tailed Hawks. But before we got there my excellent co-leader, Chris Brown, got a text that the flamingo had returned! Even though we were close to Six Mile Cypress, we wheeled around and headed back to Bunche Beach. We were just in time to see the bird flying back and forth for about a minute-and-a-half. It was beautiful in flight and so very brightly colored. And knock-your-socks-off rare to boot! Bonus bird!

Undaunted by the continual rain, our intrepid group birded Southwest Florida through the day. We finished the day with 4 Crested Caracaras in a field east of Fort Myers. We arrived after dark at our hotel near Sarasota. Lots of birding and 400 miles is a recipe for slumber. So why am I still up? I’m updating this blog while doing…laundry.

Stats time! We managed a total of 71 species today in the rain. Our Florida trip total is now 151. And the year total is at 275!

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