This summer (late June 2016) I made a family trip to Florida and a cruise in the Bahamas. Purpose was a family holiday but effort was put in what locations we planned to visit so that I could see some birds still missing on my US list. Bahamas was a new country so my plan was to have some good birding there, at least one day at Grand Bahama were I was supposed to have the best chances to see as many new birds as possible. As New World Warblers are a favorite group of birds my plan was to concentrate on the 3 resident ones.
However we started the trip in Florida by driving south to the Florida Keys. It was great driving out on the highway that connects the the Keys with several small mangrove islands. The Keys itself is definitely worth a visit even if it´s quite touristic. Here I saw my first Grey Kingbirds as well as some White-crowned Pigeons, both specialities for this place. Below also the common Spotted Dove.
Here I also saw a few families of the very handsome Green Iguana, which is a big and powerful lizard. This family was resting in the shadows next to the golf course.
Needless to say, if you go with your kids to Florida you need to visit Universal Studios. It really is an amazing place. If you have visit this amusement park all others will feel simple (we have visited many big ones in other countries). It is a must if you like this type of parks.
As we left Orlando we drove down to Miami for the cruise ship to the Bahamas. I was surprised to find myself enjoying it so much. I was confident my kids would love it (as they did) but just relaxing with the all inclusive packet was nice for a change. At Grand Bahama I had planned to have a full day of birding and therefor I had contacted a local guide, Erica who took me out. First she showed me a nesting Antillean Nighthawk with chicks which was a good start.
We visited some target spots in town before we drove east towards the pine forests. Here I was hoping to see Bahama Warbler, Olive-capped Warbler. Unfortunatly we only saw the Olive-capped (heard the Bahama singing further into the forest). Very surprising was the sighting of 2 Brown-headed Nuthatches which is a very rare bird here. Erica was very thrilled about it as she had only seen it a couple of times before. We also had good views of a thick-billed vireo before we left.
Close to a very nice beach I was hoping to see the third "New World Warbler" in the Bahama Yellowthroat but it was probably to late in the day and to many people around so we missed it. The beach was lovely though and we had our lunch sandwich here.
We then continued towards town and made our last stop at the botanical garden. Here I saw the beautiful Red-legged Thrush, Cuban Emerald as well as Black-faced Grassquit.
Our trip then continued to Nassau and Great Stirrup Kay. The latter is a private island which is made up to suite tourist. For a day this is very pleasant and I had some decent snorkeling. I saw my first Barracuda as well as some very colorful fishes. At the beach there was a colony of Least Terns and a few Ruddy Turnstones. A couple of Bananaquits were also joining us at the public area.
Over all this was a very pleasant trip which I must recommend if traveling with your family. At the Keys I saw only a few new lifers, Gray Kingbird, Roseate Tern, Shiny Cowbird and White-crowned Pigeon. In the Bahamas a saw a total of 41 species, most of them at Grand Bahama.