Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

We were a little late getting going to Merritt Island NWR this morning but we still had a great day out there.  We started with a stop at the visitor center where we learned from the staff that many of the migratory birds had already left the refuge.  Most of the bald eagles were gone but we did see one sitting on a power pole on the way to Black Point Wildlife Drive.  I hustled to get my camera and lens together but the eagle got bored and flew off before I could get a photo.  Not an auspicious start to our day but things brightened up considerably as we started our drive around Black Point.  There were lots of waders in the shallow ponds next to the road.  The above Lesser Yellowlegs was sitting on a nest when we drove up and was content just to sit there until I got out of the car.  That’s when it got a little spooked and left the nest.  We left right away because we didn’t want to force the bird to stay off the nest too long.  The driving tour was fabulous but the sun was getting pretty high so many of today’s photos are a little more contrasty than usual.  We stopped several times to take Teddy for a walk throughout the day.  He had a great time chasing the little gecko lizards that seemed to be sunning themselves at every viewing platform we visited.

We were searching for Roseate Spoonbills and Ospreys today.  We found a few occupied osprey nests of platforms but they were too far off the road to get any good photographs.  I did manage to get a nice shot of a butterfly.  I used my Canon 300mm lens with 2x tele extender for the first time and was pleased with  the results.  Shooting hand held with the 300mm is much easier than my 500mm.  I’ll be taking the 300mm to England with me in June when we visit birding preserves in North Yorkshire.  By 1:00 pm we were both getting a little hungry but decided to give Bio Lab Road a go.  It seemed to go on forever.  We saw lots of moor hens, alligators, cormorants, a few small herons and egrets, before finally seeing some roseate spoonbills.  They are such an interesting bird with their unusual beak and you just have to love their pink plumage.

We stopped at an Irish pub with an outside deck in Titusville for a late lunch.  Teddy joined us on the deck for lunch.  What else to have …..but fish and chips….with a couple of beers for a chaser.  Lunch was great!  We headed back for The Great Outdoors but decided to stop at the Titusville Water Reclamation Project right next door.  It was getting pretty hot by 3:00 pm and the bird activity was pretty slow, but the drive around the dyke was very interesting.  Our last stop before heading back to Phaeton Place was the dogie park inside TGO.  Teddy had a great time chasing around after the other small dogs.

 

Tomorrow’s plan is to head for Viera Wetlands near Melbourne, FL.  We’ll leave a little earlier than today for the 20 mile drive and hope for a good day.  A stop at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop is also on our itinerary on the way back.