Merritt Island Scouting Report – Saturday, December 10

Lutfi, Kevn M., and I set off for Viera Wetlands last Saturday, but on the way we kept passing through light rain showers.  Since it’d rained off and on for the past week, we worried they’d close the area to cars, so we switched destinations and decided to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge instead of Viera.

We got to East Gator Creek Road in time for sunrise, but the cloud cover was too dense for any blog worthy photos.  After sunrise, the gloomy light made bird photography difficult too – it was a good thing I brought my flash along to help.  We’d seen some reports of Horned Grebes at MINWR on Flickr, and sure enough one showed up almost right away.  She wasn’t shy and swam right up to us.

Horned Grebe Female
Horned Grebe Female – My first photo of one.  MINWR has been very productive for me as a source of “life birds”.  These are winter visitors.  Hopefully I can sight a male in breeding colors later this season.

Next we went over to Black Point Wildlife Drive.

It was a little cloudy this morning
It was a little cloudy that morning: Infra-red capture can really bring out the details and contrast in a somewhat gloomy scene.

Unlike some previous trips to BPWD, there are huge numbers of birds there now.  It’s a great time to visit – The water levels are high and the winter visitors have started to arrive!

Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Meadowlark – another life bird for me.  These are year round residents in Florida, but I hadn’t photographed one before.

We saw large flocks of Coots, Pintails, and many Grebes.  There were a variety of shorebirds too.  We saw Reddish Egrets, Belted Kinfishers, Great Blue Herons, Tri-Colored Herons, Little Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Anhingas, Savanah Sparrows, Lesser Yellowlegs, Green Wing Teals, Eastern Meadowlarks, American Avocets and others.  There were also many spoonbills flying around (but none seemed to want to land near us).

Follow the leader: American Avocets, winter plumage
Follow the leader: American Avocets, winter plumage – not my first sighting of these, but one of my best photos of them.  These are also winter visitors to Florida.

Before heading home, we went by the MINWR Visitor’s Center to check on the Painted Buntings. Unfortunately, there weren’t any around this time – although the rangers told us they’d seen them that morning.

If you’ve wanted to visit MINWR, now’s a great time.  For a preview of some of the things you might see, take a look at  my MINWR set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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