Beyond the BackyardMerritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Finally! We saw our first scrub jay at Merritt Island Wildlife Reserve.

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.

Scrub Jay

Scrub Jay

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.

Roseate spoonbill

Roseate spoonbill

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.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

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. :)

Roseate spoonbill

Roseate spoonbill

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.

Pied billed grebe?

Pied billed grebe?

As I was watching the spoonies, this tri-colored heron flew up.  He posed on the post near me.

Tri-colored heron

Tri-colored heron

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.

Snowy Egret and White Ibis

Snowy Egret and White Ibis

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a glossy ibis before.

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis