Tuesday 27 November 2012

Florida 8th November 2012

Spend the whole day at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This 140,000 acres refuge is located just off Titusville on the East/Atlantic coastline and lies right beside the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Centre.
I tried the Oak and Hammock Trail first thing in the morning but it proved to be very quiet with just a Hermit Thrush and a family party of wild Hogs being the only things of note. Dropped into the visitor centre where I had Pileated Woodpecker, a pair of Painted Buntings at the feeders and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker behind the centre. Next was the Peacocks Pocket Road and impoundments around the Gator Road, great selection of wildfowl all viewable at close quarters right beside the road - American Bittern, Roseate Spoonbills, Reddish Egrets, "Great White" Heron, American White Pelicans, Redheads, American Avocets, etc..
After this I tried the Black Point Drive which I had heard alot about in researching the trip. It's $5 to go on this self-guided drive and it's apparently the best area of the refuge for wildlife. I'd save your $5 if I were you, it was a major disappointment. I saw a max of 200 duck and maybe 100 waders on the whole 7 mile long drive, pretty useless in fairness. The free Gator ponds and Peacocks Pocket road were better by several magnitudes.
Easily picked up at least two Florida Scrub Jays on the Scrub Trail later with one particular bird sitting up on the top of scrub on the lookout while the rest of the family feed unseen in the undergrowth.
Biolab Road was deadly quiet while the lagoons out to Playalinda Beach proved to be also very quiet. Not a huge amount of the beach itself. Did have a huge flock of scoter way off in the distance but they never came in close enough. Two scoters did do a close fly-by but these turned out to be Surf Scoters.
Most of the shots below are from the Peacocks Pocket and Gator Road.

Pied-billed Grebe

White form of Great Blue Heron

Glossy Ibis

Tricolored Heron



Blue-winged Teal

Mottled Duck

American Kestrel

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

American Mourning Dove

Forster's Tern

Caspian Terns, Dunlin & Grey Plover

Northern Flicker

Florida Scrub Jay
Florida Scrub Jay
Wild Hogs

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