A New Mexican in Florida-Part III

One of the morning’s activities at the Space Coast Bird and Wildlife Festival was called Brevard Hot Spots. I assumed that the name referred to good birding spots in Brevard County. Perhaps it should have been called Brevard Cold Spots because the morning was very cold. We loaded ourselves onto a bus at 5:30 am, and we were taken somewhere out in the middle of nowhere and unloaded from the bus. Miserable birders stood around in the cold hoping that the sunrise would bring a bit of warmth and some birds.

Cold sunrise somewhere in Brevard County, Florida.

Cold sunrise somewhere in Brevard County, Florida.

As it got a bit lighter, a couple of birds flew out of the reeds in the cold, dim, morning light.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

But mostly we saw this:

Pond, no birds.

Pond, no birds.

Birders stood around with binoculars looking at distant sparrows, cardinals, woodpeckers and a catbird. I felt my toes going numb as I looked without success for something to photograph.

We went to several more unproductive spots. Birders were desperately looking for bird-like forms.

Finally the bus drove by a small lake in a neighborhood that had many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, some Roseate Spoonbills and a Wood Stork. Did we stop? No. I took a bad photo through the window of the moving bus.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Roseate Spoonbills and a Wood Stork.

Bad photo through moving window of moving bus.

I believed that things could not possibly get worse, but I was wrong. Our tour leader, who seemed intent on ticking off as many species as possible for the day, decided to take all 40 of us to his very small house. We tried to cram ourselves into his enclosed porch to see birds at his feeders. We were cautioned not to touch the blinds, which were almost closed. Perhaps 3 or 4 people could actually see birds. I was able to sort of see a male and female Painted Bunting through a screen door. Even in this spectacularly bad photo taken through a screen door you can see how beautiful the birds are.

Male and Female Painted Bunting

Male and Female Painted Bunting

I was feeling pretty disheartened at this point, but I perked up a bit when I learned that our next stop would be Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Our first stop was at this pond to look at ducks. Birders got out their spotting scopes and began to exclaim over the tiny dots, which they assured me were ducks.

Ducks, I think.

Ducks, I think.

I wandered away and began to look for birds to photograph.

Brown Pelican flying overhead.

Brown Pelican flying overhead.

Belted Kingfisher flying by.

Belted Kingfisher flying by.

Great Egret landing.

Great Egret landing.

After the birders had their fill of happily viewing duck dots through scopes, we got back on the bus and continued to Canaveral National Seashore. It is a truly beautiful, unspoiled place. In the parking lot I saw this handsome fellow sitting on a sign.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

He was obliging enough to sit for his portrait.

Black Vulture close-up.

Black Vulture close-up.

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We walked over the dune and onto the beach. I watched an Osprey hunting above the waves.

Osprey hunting above the waves.

Osprey hunting above the waves.

By the time we returned to our starting point, our group had seen 93 species of birds. I saw perhaps half that many. I learned that the type of birding where you go for big numbers is not my kind of birding. I like to stop and enjoy the birds. I would return to many of the places that I visited that day, and I would do it my way.

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7 Comments

Filed under Florida birds

7 responses to “A New Mexican in Florida-Part III

  1. Maki T

    Wonderful photos. I envy the sunshine.

  2. Thanks for the honest view of the birding ticking trip. I too prefer to relish the birds for longer. Drive-by birding can be fun if you are making a game of it, but not the kind of birding I would want to do in a new place with loads of new species.

    • It was not my kind of birding at all, but it gave me interesting looks at places to return to. You will see in subsequent posts that I did indeed return to several of the places, and I enjoyed them very much.

  3. Mary Wood

    Hi Linda:
    Love the vulture and other pictures! And especially liked the Bosque Bill pictures earlier this month! :) Tell him we said “Hi!
    Had forgotten about your planned Florida trip. Despite the large tour group setbacks, let your birding passion feed your soul — Enjoy!! Will be down in that neck of the woods with my Syracuse girl friends next month. Can’t wait!
    Love you!
    Mary, Dave, Greg & Tyler

    • Thanks Mary. That one 4-hour tour was the only slightly negative part of a wonderful trip. Even then I was with friends, and so I was having fun. :) Enjoy your trip next month. Love you back!

      Linda

  4. annette baesel

    I’m so with you…I’m a quality not quantity birder. I want to actually SEE the bird not just see the bird. for instance, i would have slammed on those brakes so hard for the roseate spoonbills i would have put the first 3 rows of the bus/van through the front window!

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