We arrived at the Refuge just after 8:00, entering from the north along Route 3. I had read an item about a Red-breasted Nuthatch on the east side of the road in a stand of pines, and I wanted to add that tick on my Brevard County list. We started by walking along one trail a short way into the woods. Quickly we found some Pine Warblers and a variety of woodpeckers including Downy, Red-bellied and Pileated. We were also lucky enough to be standing where the morning light perfectly lit up two Northern Flickers as they played Follow the Leader in and out of the trees. The flashes of golden yellow from the under side of the wings was breathtaking. I felt like I had been granted a rare privilege in that brief moment of color and flight. There were no nuthatches, so we stayed only a little while longer, picking up Savannah and Chipping Sparrows, White-eyed Vireo, and Gray Catbird before we left. We also heard but didn't see an Eastern Towhee.
Next we decided to drive along Biolab Road. The number of birds here was lower than I've seen before, but we still had a great opportunity to watch a Reddish Egret hunt for food along the beach (above left). Unfortunately, the light was in front of us and getting good pictures, especially on an iPhone, was problematic. We also found some Caspian and Royal Terns, several Tricolored Herons, and a nice variety of shorebirds.
Next it was on to Blackpoint Drive. But before we could get there we caught sight of a Peregrine Falcon on a dead tree. We stopped, hauled out the scopes and cameras and snapped away. This was the best look at a Peregrine that I've ever had, so I hope you don't mind seeing an extra photo or two above and near the bottom of the page. What a gorgeous bird!
We had both Greater and Lesser Scaup, or at least I think so based on head shape, size and color and on the bill size. Scaup are a tough call for me, but I've been studying and feel like I'm beginning to make sense of it all. There were also lots of Northern Pintail (like the one on the left), American Wigeon (below right), Northern Shovelers, and Blue-winged Teal. There was a large group of American Avocets who were gathered in a long, straight line like they were waiting for a bus. And then there were the Roseate Spoonbills. I tried hard to get a decent photo of one. My best effort is at the very bottom of this page.
Next we decided to take a chance at finding the Brown Booby that has been seen recently at Jetty Park. We headed south and reached the park in the late afternoon. The light was perfect, the weather was perfect, and the bird was ... well ... not to be seen. We stayed until nearly sunset and had nice looks at a Great Black-backed Gull, several curious Bonaparte Gulls, a Black Scoter and many Northern Gannets. We watched in awe as a fishing boat passed lazily along the horizon with a cloud of birds swirling around the ship like a dance both ancient and carefully choreographed. Wonderful! It was a terrific way to end the day. We headed back to Gainesville with over 70 species for the day and many photos that were worth a second look. I hope you like them. There are four more below.
|Brown Pelican at Jetty Park|