I stopped by C. S. Lee Park on SR 46 in Geneva yesterday morning with Kevin, Kevin and Lutfi to photograph the sunrise. There weren’t a lot of clouds but it was still pretty – and some obliging fishermen were kind enough to point their wake into the scene for us.
We were on our way over to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Kevin M. uses the Audubon Birds of North America app, which has links to bird sightings on eBird. With this, you can search for nearby birds, activity at birding hotspots, and even see reports of recent notable and rare bird sightings. Using the app, he discovered that Wilson’s Pharalopes were on Bio-lab road last week, so we decided to try to spot them.
The Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) is a small wading bird and the largest of the phalaropes. Normally it breeds on the North American prairies and in the western US. It is migratory, but according to iBird, isn’t often found in Florida, so this was a rare chance to see it.
It was fun to see another Wilson bird yesterday: the Wilson’s Plover . These are also waders and breed on both US coasts from the equator northwards. Its common range does include Florida.
I’d seen a Wilson’s Snipe before and now with these sightings I started wondering who this Wilson fellow was. Alexander Wilson was a Scottish-American poet, ornithologist, naturalist, and illustrator. He’s regarded as the greatest American ornithologist prior to Audubon. Several birds are named after him, including the three I already mentioned and the Wilson’s Storm-petrel, and Wilson’s Warbler. The warbler genus Wilsonia was also named for him. In 1802 Wilson decided to publish a book illustrating all the North American birds. The result was the nine-volume American Ornithology, with 268 species of birds, 26 of which hadn’t been described.
On our trip, we also saw Alligators, Belted Kingfishers, Green Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, and many kinds of gulls and shore birds on Bio-lab Road. We drove through Black Point Wildlife Drive too, but there wasn’t as much going on there.
So this trip provided an incentive to clear out some of my birding ignorance and now I know a bit about another great American ornithologist. You can see more MINWR photos here and here, and birds photos here and here. And I have a some more Florida landscape / sunrise photos here.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved