For years I’ve been chasing a Cinnamon Teal. A relative of the common Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teals typically live in the western US, with a range extending from Canada to Mexico. A few turn up each winter in Florida. I’ve chased them from year to year, seeking them at Merritt Island, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, and other places. Usually they are far out, mixed in with thousands of other ducks. Well, this year there’s one hanging out at Merritt Island. Locating him was super easy. He raised his wings to wave hello!
You can see why this guy is called a Cinnamon Teal. He’s a beautiful rich brown. Look at that bright red eye! He was dabbling most of the time that I visited him, with his head in the water and only his tail sticking up. I had to time my camera clicks during the rare times that his head was above water and pointed at the camera.
I think the Blue-winged Teals were jealous of all the attention that the rare visitor was attracting. Or maybe they just got tired of bumping into each other as they all dabbled with their heads under water. I enjoyed the action shots as they chased each other!
The teals weren’t the only ones showing off. This Tricolored Heron was darting in and out of the mangrove, grabbing for fish for dinner. At times it looked as though he was walking on water.
The Cinnamon Teal was really quite cooperative. He gave me a total of three wing-flaps before the sun went behind a cloud. I headed home, happy to have finally seen a Cinnamon Teal. What a gorgeous bird!
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!