Monday, February 7, 2011

Florida trip continued...Orlando area

Snowy Egret, Merritt Island NWR, January 16, 2011
Roseate Spoonbill catching a fish, Merritt Island NWR, FL, January 16, 2011
Cattle Egret, Blue Heron Wetlands, January 16, 2011
Florida Scrub Jay, Canaveral NS, FL, January 16, 2011
Florida Scrub Jay, Canaveral NS, FL, January 16, 2011

We left the area around Sanibel Island on Friday and made the drive up to Orlando where we would stay for three nights. I made the most of the two full days I had available visiting areas around Orlando on Saturday and making the trip to the coast on Sunday. I did mange a little birding on Friday afternoon after the drive up and went to Tibet Butler Preserve.

Brown-headed Nuthatch, Disney Wilderness Preserve, FL, January 15, 2011

Saturday began at Lake Toho wathcing the birds come alive for the day. I then went south to Southport Road to the end to Southport Park which turned up some new birds inlcuding Crested Caracara, Eastern Meadowlarks, another Snail Kite, several American Kestrels, groups of Sandhill Cranes and others.

I then went to the Disney Wilderness Preserve which is operated by the Nature Conservancy. I was the first one out on the trails and came across some great birds including a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a group of three Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, several Bald Eagles, several species of woodpeckers and many other species. I spent several hours here and walked several miles enjoying the warm weather and sun.
On Sunday I took a trip out to the Atlantic coast at dawn beginning at Merritt Island NWR. The refuge was amazingly dry. The wildlife drive that typically would hold thousands upon thousands of ducks and coots was almost empty. I typically would expect hundreds or thousands of Northern Pintails and there were none. The little water left did have concentrations of birds, especially waders that were no doubt feasting on the fish that were concentrated due to the dry conditions. I spent less time here than intended but I also knew there were many other good birding areas around. I next went over to Canaveral National Seashore and immediately happened upon three Florida Scrub Jays. The beach held the typical terns, gulls and shorebirds. One water impoundment on the way to the beach contained several thousand ducks and coots including dozens of Redheads. I made a few more stops on the way off the island but didn't find anything too spectacular beyond a nice view of a nesting Great Horned Owl.
Northern Shoveler, Viera Wetlands, FL, January 16, 2011
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue Heron Wetland, FL, January 16, 2011

My next stop was the Blue Heron Wetland in Titusville which was very productive. I had the place to myself and saw not another person for the couple of hours I was there. The number of Yellow-rumped Warblers was in the hundreds. There were numerous waders and waterfowl including a large, vocal group of Black bellied Whistling Ducks. My final stop for the day was in the mid afternoon at Viera Wetlands. This area was somewhat productive but very crowded by the time I made it there. I stayed for a bit but then decided it was time to make the drive back to Orlando. It was a very productive day with some fantastic birds and some good photo ops.

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