Merritt Island – January 2012

Four of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday for the first time this year.  It was a beautiful Florida morning and this place is rockin’!!

As usual, we looked for a sunrise photo first.  We found this old house behind the Brevard Community College and the sky cooperated.

Old house and sunrise
Old house and sunrise

It was really hard to decide on the highlight of this trip.  Before I left yesterday morning, I Googled MINWR, and saw a report of “a Great Horned Owl on a nest on the left near 402 and SR 3”.  Sure enough, we drove right up to it and it was there waiting there for us!  The internet is really handy, isn’t it?

Great Horned Owl on nest
Great Horned Owl on nest

The second contender for highlight of the day was a Clapper Rail.  I’d seen reports of these too, but I’d never seen one before and didn’t know what to look for.  We parked at the first parking area on Black Point Wildlife Drive and were exploring when we met a tourist from Brazil.  He pointed out the bird for us, but it was back in the shadows and with the glare from the sun it took me a while to see it even with him pointing right at it!  Fortunately, it moved a bit and I was able to get a photo.  We eventually saw three in this area and one more at the second parking area.

These Clapper Rails are  hard to see...
These Clapper Rails are hard to see…

There were more people / cars on BPWLD yesterday than I’ve ever seen before.  A couple of times there were real traffic jams!  There were also more birds than I’ve seen there in a long time – maybe ever.  We saw Ospreys, Clapper Rails, Pintail Ducks, Coots, Moorhens, White Pelicans, Mottled Ducks, Green Wing Teals, Belted Kingfishers, Anhingas, Cormorants, Green Herons, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Reddish Egrets, Little Blue Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Savannah Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Tricolored Herons, Woodstorks, Roseate Spoonbills, a Great Horned Owl, Painted Buntings, various gulls, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others.

After BPWLD, we drove by the owl again and it was still there.  Then we went by the visitor center to check on the Painted Buntings.  There were at least two of them at the feeder.  After that we had to return home – a couple of us had things to do in the normal world. 🙁

If you’ve meant to visit MINWR and haven’t made it yet – get out there now.  I’ve never seen it better!  You can click on the photos above to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version as well as any comments and discussion about them.  Click here to visit my Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge set, and click here to visit my Black Point Wildlife Drive set on Flickr.

By the way, I started an “Ed’s Life List” page to record the bird species I’ve seen in the wild.  I’ll keep my list there along with a link to a gallery of images for each species. I’ll try to keep this page up to date as I go.  Please visit if you get a chance.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

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