Well. Kevin M. wanted to meet and photograph the SpaceX launch scheduled for 5:15 am last Friday morning. Talk about zero dark thirty!
Anyway, I was all packed and prepared Thursday night when the launch was postponed. Since I was ready to go, I decided to head over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge anyway on Friday morning (just not so early!). I’m glad I did. I got to see a lot more things flying than just a space ship. By the way, if you like to look at photos of SpaceX launches, their Flickr stream is awesome.
With our recent cool, clear weather, I expected few clouds and a so-so sunrise. But this scene with the sun rising below the clouds and centered behind the Vehicle Assemble Building at Kennedy Space Center was pretty.
Gator Creek Road at MINWR has been closed for a while so I was glad to see it finally open again. They’ve been busy maintaining the dirt road surface and trimming vegetation along the sides. You can see a little better now – and you don’t have to dodge potholes! There was a lot of bird action.
Birding is interesting in many ways. For instance, you can always call a group of birds a “flock”. But I think the group names for different bird species are fun. If you’ve ever listened to a big “squabble” like this, you’ll probably agree it’s an appropriate name for gulls. You can also call a gull group a “flotilla”, “gallery”, “screech”, or “scavenging”.
I’m not sure what attracted these huge gatherings to Gator Creek. but they sure seemed to like it there.
“Scoop” is a wonderful name for a group of Skimmers too. The classic photo for Skimmers is of a single one feeding just above a calm surface with its lower mandible in the water (like this one). I didn’t see any of that behavior on Friday, but I really liked this alternate flight shot. It’s hard to understand how they fly that close without hitting each other. Groups of Skimmers are also known as a “conspiracy” or “embezzlement”.
On Black Point Wildlife Drive the water was very low in spots but there was still a lot to see. Here’s one more group flight shot:
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Dunlin are sort of a life bird for me. What I mean is I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them before, but I find Sandpipers challenging to ID and I’d never consciously done so with Dunlin. I also saw / ID’d some Western Sandpipers on Friday for the first time. Flocks of Dunlin are also called a “flight” or “trip”.
And here’s one last bird photo. This group was a lot smaller than the others. They were spread out and flying around so fast the only time I could grab a collective image was when they settled for just a moment.
It looks as though there’s only the one name for a group of Robins. I suppose you could always be boring and call them a “flock”.
If these names interest you, here’s a good summary article on the subject: https://www.thespruce.com/flock-names-of-groups-of-birds-386827
So that was a great visit to my favorite wildlife refuge! In addition to the birds above, I also saw a Bottle Nose Dolphin, Alligators, a Bald Eagle, Roseate Spoonbills, Forster’s Terns, a Eurasian Collared Dove, Brown Pelicans, Turkey Vultures, Ospreys, Ibis, American Avocets, Great Blue and Tricolor Herons, Redish Egrets, Great and Snowy Egrets, and some others that I’m forgetting or (once again) didn’t ID.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos!
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