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.
As it got a bit lighter, a couple of birds flew out of the reeds in the cold, dim, morning light.
Great Blue Heron
But mostly we saw this:
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.
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
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.
I wandered away and began to look for birds to photograph.
Brown Pelican flying overhead.
Belted Kingfisher flying by.
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.
He was obliging enough to sit for his portrait.
Black Vulture close-up.
We walked over the dune and onto the beach. I watched an 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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