Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – II

The day continued to be near perfect. Sunshine all day, not hot, a light breeze and a few clouds now and then. Spring was in the air. We spent the afternoon with the birds of the refuge. They rested, chased away trespassers, bathed, preened, flew to and fro and always hunted. The ducks, especially, were almost in constant motion as they must gather enough energy for returning north in the coming weeks.

With the sun dropping toward the horizon, we reluctantly headed in the same direction. Stopping at the bridge connecting the refuge to the mainland, we enjoyed a Florida sunset and agreed, once again, that we are two of the most blessed individuals on the planet.

 

Images of our afternoon.

Watching a Reddish Egret chase a meal would make Baryshnikov blush with envy. I had to literally run along the shoreline to keep up with this racer. He would stop suddenly only to burst out running again. Finally, he stabbed the shallow water and came up with a minnow which seemed too small to even consider as a meal for this large wader. It’s gonna take a lot of those to fill up Big Red!

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

 

Lesser Scaup were plentiful in the marshes and this one found a piece of quiet beach to enjoy a nap in the Florida sun. Just as soon as the pesky paparazzi leave.

Merritt Island NWR

 

As breeding season approaches, the plumage of the Roseate Spoonbill begins to brighten. Watching these large birds sweep their namesake bill back and forth in the shallow water is fascinating! Gini spotted an enterprising female Blue-winged Teal taking advantage of some shade provided by a tall pink tree.

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

 

Blue-winged Teal were the most numerous duck species at the refuge today. This male finished bathing and preening with a wing flap showing how it got its name.

Merritt Island NWR

 

Late afternoon and the salt marsh stretches in all directions.

Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island NWR

 

Strong sunlight about an hour before sunset puts a spotlight on a freshwater hammock.

Merritt Island NWR

 

This Bald Eagle takes on a golden glow from the setting sun.

Merritt Island NWR

 

A pause at the bridge to the mainland as we reflect on our very special day and sigh heavily as the sun sinks beyond the St. Johns River.

Merritt Island NWR

 

The beginning and end of our journey today were in darkness. In between, we were in the full light of Nature as she shared a small bit of beauty with us. Come visit this special place if you have an opportunity. It is worth the time.

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – II

  1. Hi Wally

    I’m back from Menorca now so catching up with comments. You’ll be pleased to hear that birders are few and far between in Menorca. And if you see a birder or two they are bound to be Brits in search of sun and exotic birds.

    • We hope you had a wonderful vacation in the sun! Best of luck if you are serious about locating an alternate paradise.
      “A birder or two” — that’s about one or more than my limit.

      Welcome home!

  2. Hello Wally,
    What a magnificent array of photos, especially the Roseate Spoonbill flying in!
    The Blue-winged Teal is a discovery for me, its wings are indeed very beautiful.
    I wish you both a great week, all the best!

    • Merci, Noushka! It’s very good to hear from you. We’ve been traveling and life has interfered with blogging. Many new images, so hope to post a few soon.
      In the meantime, we continue to be impressed with your artistry! It gives me hope that one day I shall take a decent photograph!
      Have a wonderful week!

  3. edro123

    Wonderful photos – as usual, Wally. I especially like the ones of the Reddish Egret. They are fun to watch.

    It looks like you had a great day at the refuge!

  4. Great photos and the habitat photos are very interesting. Is there somewhere that you can get out among that saltmarsh? I have found the plants in the saltmarsh around here very interesting – even down to the tiny flowers they have. We have some similar birds out here but nothing with such beautiful plumage. Out spoonbills have either black or yellow bills and simply white plumage = your roseate ones are really beautiful – also the reddish egret – very beautiful! I especially like the late afternoon light you caught on the eagle.
    Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Mick! Hope your heat has abated somewhat.

      There are a couple of trails which skirt the marshy areas and, yes, some of the plant life is amazing. The vast shallow water of this area really attracts waders and, in the winter, tens of thousands of ducks.

      Have a great weekend!

  5. What a wonderful post, Wally!

    Your Roseate Spoonbill seems to sport a much heftier bill than our Eurasian Spoonbill – and what a spectacular bird! I had to chuckle at the Blue-winged Teal taking advantage of the shade!

    Those clouds on your two salt marsh panoramic shots are utterly wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen clouds like that.

    Sorry if this is a brief comment – you spoke of you having 500 images to process – I’ve come back from the Isles of Scilly with well over 4,000! I’m going to be tied to my desk for a fortnight at least!

    My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard

    • Get to work, Richard! We want to see those Scilly images as soon as possible! (But 4,000? You’re beginning to sound like me …)

      Thank you so much for your nice comments. I’ve been flirting with the (shhhh!) dark side, lately and have been attempting more and more (gulp!) l-a-n-d-s-c-a-p-e images. Don’t tell anyone.

      The two of us hope you and Lindsay are having fun. (That means you must take a break occasionally from image processing and whisk her away to the kitchen for a cuppa Taylors.)

  6. What wonderful photos. You captured what birds and ducks do that is so much fun to watch.

    • Pat! How nice to hear from you!
      Thank you very much for your very kind comments.

      “Fun to watch.” That’s why we do this!

  7. The obvious question is. Why would you want to go on vacation when you live in Florida? Maybe it’s needing a break from all that sunshine and those dangerous creatures? I’ll look forward to your excuses Wally. It’s ages since I clapped eyes on a Blue-winged Teal. They turn up over here occasionally when on vacation form Florida.

    • The obvious answer is: We went on vacation WITHIN Florida!
      So, you are correct. Why would we want to leave??

      Trip report to be issued forthwith. (Well, at least in a fortnight – or two.)

  8. Florice

    beautiful. I like the roseate spoonbills. anyway, the pink ones.

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