Rich and I braved the cold winds this morning to go to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. It’s supposed to be very good for birding, but it also made us realize how spoiled we were with the Circle B Bar Reserve.
We hiked the Scrub Jay trail. The winds were very strong and at first we wondered if we’d been crazy to leave our warm beds at the crack of dawn…clearly the birds were not dumb enough to leave theirs! But just as we looped back around to the start of the trail, there was this single jay sitting up on top of some bushes. He posed there for a while and let me take lots of pictures.
After our hike, we went on the Black Point Wildlife Drive. We were told that the marshes are usually covered in birds like coots, but apparently this year the water is extremely salty, so the birds have gone elsewhere to roost. I wondered if that’s why we’re seeing so many coots at the Circle B Bar Reserve.
Everybody was stopped at one point on the drive to admire a couple of roseate spoonbills. They were fishing and I’ve never seen one with such bright markings. It was fun to watch them “spoon” their bills back and forth as they hunted for their breakfasts.
I couldn’t resist a stop to take a picture of this great blue heron, who was posing so perfectly in the sun with the water in the background. I see so many herons at Circle B that they almost get boring, but they really are pretty birds.
We came to another group of spoonbills. I’m not sure what was more fun, watching the birds, or seeing the photographers with their 500 and 600mm lenses. I drooled. A lot. :)
I took this picture of what I think is a pied-billed grebe with my camera balanced on my car window. The water is lit so nicely and the reflection is beautiful.
As I was watching the spoonies, this tri-colored heron flew up. He posed on the post near me.
We saw a bunch of white ibises and snowy egrets posing next to the spoonbills. Sorry, guys, you are very pretty, but the spoonies were definitely the center of attention today.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a glossy ibis before.
Want to learn more about nature photography at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge?
Check out my Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!