Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last Hurrah

Well at least till the cooler weather comes back. It is way too warm already. We had a cold winter and now it looks like it will be an early and very warm summer. That's OK I have plenty to keep me busy inside and I will probably find a topic or two to write about as well. But this Blog is about our last hurrah or our last birding trip at least until the cooler weather returns.

My plans this particular weekend were to just hang out at home and rest up a little but after doing the grocery shopping, I kind of got this nagging feeling to get out and look for some birds. So when I got home I said let's pack up and take off for the weekend so we did.

We headed North pushing our way up the coast till we got to the Daytona Area. I wanted to go back to Ponce Inlet to check it out for shorebirds as it had been so productive when I was there earlier in the year and I had read about some terns nesting on one of the birding lists so we went.

Well when we got there late afternoon on Saturday there were cars everywhere. What was going on I wondered. Well a wedding for one and it was super warm, so the beach goers were there and their cars along with them. We did find a parking space and did walk down to the beach but there were more people then birds on the beach that day. We walked the boardwalk but still didn't see to much in the way of birds.

A couple of Brown Pelicans flying along the inlet, a Morning Dove or two in the dunes and a Tern or two, too far out for me to ID. We did see other interesting things such as Gopher Tortoises slowly prodding along in the sand while picnickers were unaware they were even there.

The sand dunes held my interest as did the views of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse always a favorite. There were what I thought were crab parts in the sand that the ants were picnicking on that upon closer inspection I discovered were just pieces of bread. Guess these old eyes just aren't what they use to be. There were also Cactus blooming in the dunes though I couldn't get close enough for a good shot.

It was getting late now so we needed to make up our minds what we were going to do next. We could get a hotel on the beach and spend the night and hit the inlet again in the morning early or go west young man go west. So heading west won out, the plan was to find a place to stay near Blue Springs then go there in the morning and do the boat ride on the river. I had enjoyed the trip the first time I went and was looking forward to doing it again.

We found a place to stay and found a place to eat after which we headed back to the hotel and began preparing the equipment for the next day and reviewing what we had shot today.

Sunday we woke early and went downstairs to eat the complimentary breakfast. I had brought yogurt with me so just fixed a bowl with some cereal and mixed my yogurt into it and got a piece of fruit and a cup of tea and I was good to go. So off we went.

We made a few right turns and a few left turns and were soon out in the country and by this time I was completely lost. Soon though we did find the little gift shop there and we thought they might have a map of the area. Unfortunately they were not open after all it was not quite 7 am. But we did find some info about the area and a rough drawn map. So we drove down the road a little ways and parked the car. Got our cameras and off we went.

We walked what looked like and old road threw some trees and came out on a wetland prairie. What a view boy I think I was so awe struck I didn't get any pictures of that view but did get others as we walked in search for wildlife. I think I was struck more by what I was seeing because it wasn't what I had expected to see in this wooded area I had been driving around in.

It appeared as first a small wetland just beyond the tree then a more vast wetland as we walked further up the path. We could have gone further west but chose to turn right and headed north. At the next intersection the west path was shut down so we climbed the tower to look out over the area and listened to the Sandhill cranes out on the prairie but could not see them. Later we did see one sitting an a nest. We turned right again and finally ended up back a the beginning.

One of the highlight of this trip was a lifer. (a Bobolink) I really didn't expect to get any lifers out here and was thrilled. this bird was heard before it was seen. It played hard to get for a long time before it finally showed it self. Then when it did I couldn't take my eye off of it ans was so nervous that most of the shots I took didn't come out that great. But they are good enough for and ID and that was what was important.

We were just moving slowly and enjoying the sites that surrounded us as we walked back to where the car was parked. I was photographing so white flowers when all of a sudden a bird flies straight over my head barely missing me. It flew into the brush on the other side of the path, so we quietly and slowly went to investigate and soon located the hawk. What a handsome creature he was. Don't you think so?
This actually turned out to be a great little trip, we saw quite a few birds, lots of dragonflies & Butterflies and tons of wildflowers, several alligators and a snake.

On the way home we stopped at Merritt Island and of course saw a few more birds. Driving Black Point Drive we saw the usual herons and egrets as well as an Osprey,  a few Red-winged Blackbirds, a handsome Reddish Egret in breeding plumage, several Blacked Necked Stilts and a real treat for me was a Black-bellied Plover in breeding plumage. As we were leaving the drive we go to see a few Black Vultures having a meal on a dead alligator. What a wonderful treat to see this little bit of nature in action. The vultures were very calm and allowed me to get a couple of portrait shots.

I love Merritt Island no matter what time of year. There is always something around whether it be bird, butterflies, dragonflies, pretty wildflowers or some other type of wildlife like wild boars, alligators, or river otters. I hear there is also a large cat but I have yet to see it. Just a matter of being in the right place at the right

Birds seen on this trip Green Heron, Great Egrets, Wood-storks, Sandhill Cranes, Little blues both juvenile and adult. Tricolor Egrets, Glossy, White, and one white faces Ibis, Osprey, Black Vultures, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Killdeer, Brown Pelicans,Reddish egret. Bobolink, Red shouldered Hawk, Moorhen, Great Blue Herons, Yellowlegs, Black-bellied plovers, unidentified Terns, and Morning doves.