On 1/28/2013 I was on a pelagic trip out of New Smyrna Beach, FL as part of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos from that day since the forecast was for choppy waters and I figured my opportunities would be few. As it turned out, the waters were not all that bad. So I did miss what would have been a good shot at a bridled tern on a little buoy and numerous shot of northern gannets in flight. But the distant fly-by razorbill and several red phalaropes were tough enough to get on just with binoculars, let alone a big camera lens.
On the 29th, I had to turn in my rental car and had a little over half a day from Titusville, FL. Solution? Short visits to both Merritt Island NWR and Viera Wetlands again. At Merritt Island NWR on this day I happened across a pool that was a wading bird feeding frenzy. And I shot freely with my camera. What a great opportunity!
wading birds feeding frenzy – Merritt Island NWR – near Titusville FL – 2013-01-29 photo by Greg Miller
egrets spoonbills and storks – Merritt Island NWR – near Titusville FL – 2013-01-29 photo by Greg Miller
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 photo by Greg Miller
Whaaaat? hahaha. Well. Not really new. But new nonetheless. I’ve ditched my old scopes and upgraded to just one new one. And…<drumroll>…I got a DSLR camera and adapter to go with it. So I am one happy camper. And I’ve been reading. What a complicated new world! But, I am quite excited. Unfortunately, I am going to have to give myself some real patience with this twist of my birding hobby. The learning curve is pretty big. And execution is kind of difficult. (Especially for Captain Shaky Hands) This will, of course, put a dent in my traditional listing. But hey. Now my digiscoping setup is going to have its own life list. 🙂
Snowy Egret - Millersburg, OH - 2011-04-26 photo: Greg Miller
This is a pretty good bird for the Bobolink Area of Ohio. For those of you who want to look, this bird is South of the Walmart on Rt 83 South of Millersburg, Ohio. From the intersection of Rt 62 & Rt 83 South of town (where Rt 62 splits off toward Killbuck), go North (toward the Walmart) and park safely in the first wide dirt pulloff on the right side of the road. Pull completely off the road. Rt 83 has lots of trafffic. The bird should be feeding in the swampy area across the road.
Unfortunately, it was windy and cloudy at the time and I was pretty far away. So this pic is a bit grainy, but it sure looks a whole lot better than my zillions of old photos that qualify for the Gallery of C.R.A.P. (Completely Ridiculous Awful Photographs). Continue reading →