Florida Space Coast 2013 – part 1

Anyone who keeps bird lists and wants to get the best bang for the buck has to go to several geographic locations at different seasons.  For Big Year folks, this means (in addition to chasing rarities) visits to what refer to as “The Big 5”.  These are the 5 states where you can pick up a huge number of regular species and also be in proximity to potential rarities showing up while you are there.  These states are Alaska, California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.  All of these states have unique specialty birds–birds that occur more commonly there than many other places (and a few are completely unique to those areas).  What’s it like to visit a birding festival in one of these locations?  Read on.  I will tell you about my trip to Brevard County, Florida for the an old and well-recognized festival, the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  The epicenter of the birding action here is the very birdy Merritt Island NWR near Titusville, FL.

I arrived in Florida late Sunday afternoon, 1/20/2013, with 3 hours of daylight to burn.  Spending that time at Merritt Island NWR seemed like a good plan.  And 70 species later I would say,  “Yes.  That was a good choice.”

Merritt Island NWR is a big wildlife refuge near Cape Canaveral where the space shuttle launches occurred.  Here are a few pics from the Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Northern Pintail male in alternate plumage - Merritt Island NWR - near Titusville FL - 2013-01-20

Northern Pintail male in alternate plumage – Merritt Island NWR – near Titusville FL – 2013-01-20 photo by Greg Miller

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South Texas December 2012 Days 7-10

Days 7 & 8 were chili for South Texas with one day’s high in the low 60s. Normally, I would have been out anyways but these two days found me indoors doing paperwork and getting caught up on stuff that people sometimes refer to as “responsibility”.  Days 9 & 10 were back to normal with leisurely visits to Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, TX and Estero Llano Grande near Weslaco, TX.

Quinta Mazatlan is a lush little urban gem set in the city of McAllen, TX not far from the airport. It is a place one can easily get some of the Texas specialty birds like Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca, and Great Kiskadee…while watching bird feeders. This is a lazy birder’s treat. I enjoy watching feeders sometimes. It’s quite relaxing.

Entrance road to Quinta Mazatlan

Entrance road to Quinta Mazatlan photo by Greg Miller

The entrance road (which you walk–no cars inside the park) is a great place to see and hear the raucous chicken-like birds, Plain Chachalacas.

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South Texas December 2012 Day 6

Gallery

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Most all of our group left the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas to return to their respective homes.  Sunday morning I drove to San Benito to the home of Terry and Marci Fuller for breakfast.  Jeff Gordon, President of … Continue reading