Beyond the Backyard

The MINWR Snow Bunting

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On Black Friday I had the opportunity to photograph two rare birds in Florida: the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and the Snow Bunting.  The Snow Bunting lives in the Arctic, breeding in the northernmost parts of Canada.  In the wintertime its range extends down to northern Pennsylvania or Maryland.  But not normally to Florida!  So when this little beauty showed up at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, it attracted lots of photographers.  When I drove up to Parking Lot #8 at Canaveral National Seashore, I knew I wouldn’t have to look hard to find the bird.  It was out on the side of the road, surrounded by photographers, who were actually sitting in the road to take its picture!  The cool part was that pretty much everybody at the parking lot was there to see the bunting.  He was really tolerant of people, and he foraged in the grass right in front of our willing lenses.  Donna started yelling “too close!” instead of “card full!”  Then he flew away, only to reappear a few minutes later in the parking lot.  Although I’d seen the Palm Coast Snow Bunting a few years ago, it was still fun to see and photograph this rare–and […]

Beyond the Backyard

Snow Bunting! at Palm Coast Waterfront Park

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Dyeyo and I planned a bird-watching “safari” trip for today.  Our first stop was the Palm Coast Waterfront Park where a tiny Snow Bunting has been hanging out for the last couple of weeks.  This bird nests in the Arctic and migrates to the New England latitudes.  Only about twenty have been documented as far south as Florida.   This little guy has an injured tail and cannot fly long distances.  Over the past few weeks, he has been on the ground just off the sidewalk.  He eats grass.  When he gets scared (like when large boats pass by on the nearby Intercoastal waterway), he hunkers down, practically flattening himself.  He blends in so well with the grass that it’s easy to walk right by him.  As we stood there photographing him, several couples walked by us, wondering why in the world we were photographing grass! We stood there for about an hour photographing the bunting.  It was in the shadow of a tree for most of the time.  He finally came into the edge of the shadow, and the sun lit his face. While we waited for the bunting to move into the light, we got to watch the […]