Merritt Island NWR, 2/18/2012

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American Avocet
It was a pretty good day at Merritt Island this morning.  I thought it was going to be dreary and cloudy all day, but by the time I arrived on the island, the lighting was pretty good, and there was no wind, so the reflections were nearly perfect.  For me, there's nothing better than a good bird photo with its own reflection. I first went to the Max Brewer Causeway and found some Ruddy Turnstones and plenty of gulls (almost all Ring-billed).  I then went to Pumphouse Rd and found many more gulls, and I think there was a competition for who could make the most noise.  Several Black Skimmers were there too.  It was also fun to see a few Savannah Sparrows and a Swamp Sparrow there.  From there I went to Blackpoint Dr.  It was nice to see ducks relatively close to shore--I took my best Redhead Duck photos this morning, and there were also several Northern Shovelers, Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks close to shore.  Then the American Avocet came out to play, and they were very fun to watch.  From there I went to Scrub Ridge Trail, where I saw one Florida Scrub Jay, found a nice Gray Catbird eating and heard a couple Eastern Towhee, though sadly none posed for a photograph.

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Tricolored Heron
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White Ibis
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Redhead Duck
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American Avocet
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Eastern Meadowlark

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Gray Catbird
Throughout the day, I also found several other animals and plants that were interesting.  I found a Florida Box Turtle, four River Otters, and a very pretty flower that I think is a Saltmarsh Mallow (somebody please correct me if I'm wrong).  All in all, it was a pretty good morning.

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River Otter
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Saltmarsh Mallow?
Here's a list of species I found on the island:

River Otters 4
Florida Box Turtle 1
American Alligator X
Gulf-Fritillary Butterfly 1

Blue-winged Teal X
Northern Shoveler X
Northern Pintail X
Redhead 1
Ring-necked Duck 3
Lesser Scaup 15
Hooded Merganser 3
Pied-billed Grebe 7
Wood Stork 5
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Anhinga 2
American White Pelican 2
Brown Pelican 1
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 11
Snowy Egret 7
Little Blue Heron 1
Tricolored Heron 11
Reddish Egret 5
Green Heron 1
White Ibis 5
Glossy Ibis 1
Black Vulture X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey 9
Bald Eagle 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Kestrel 5
Common Gallinule 2
American Coot 100
Black-bellied Plover 5
Killdeer 1
American Avocet 100
Willet 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 3
Ruddy Turnstone 7
Dunlin 45
Laughing Gull 25
Ring-billed Gull 300
Herring Gull 10
Forster's Tern 1
Black Skimmer 13
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 1
Loggerhead Shrike 2
Florida Scrub-Jay 1
Fish Crow X
Tree Swallow X
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 3
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Palm Warbler 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Eastern Towhee 2
Savannah Sparrow 13
Swamp Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird X
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle X
Boat-tailed Grackle X


  1. Every photo is great, but the first Avocets & the heron w/ the beautiful water on its beak are breathtaking! Also love the Ibis in the mirror!

  2. Fantastic! What a super day of birding, and as always you've captured so many of its wonderful aspects so well.

  3. Looks like an outstanding day! The Tricolored Heron and Ibis reflection photos are perfect! The Avocets are beautiful, I hope to catch them on one of my visits!

    1. Thanks, Tammy! I'm sure you'll catch them there soon.

  4. Can I ask where exactly you saw the otters? I have yet to see any apart from the pair that ran across the road one morning last year as I drove my daughter to school!

    Can I also ask what lens you use? Your photos are so crisp and that's something I never am able to achieve with my telephoto lens. I'm thinking it's me and not my lens though, LoL.

    1. Kathy, thanks so much for the compliments! I saw otters in two places. This photo comes from near the end of Blackpoint Drive, shortly before the dirt road turns to paved. I saw three earlier by the right hand side of the road between the two parking lots. Hope that helps!

      I use a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 lens. With wildlife photography, sometimes it really is "the lens" and not you, especially when shooting at a significant distance.

  5. That is the most beautiful pic I have seen featuring an Ibis. Amazing!!!!

  6. Darn, I go there quite often, guess I'll have to just keep my eyes peeled. Took a drive over to Orlando yesterday to check out Mead & Leu Gardens. So a cute little pair of wood ducks at Mead so it was worth the trip! Thanks for the reply and the suggestions!

    1. I love Mead Gardens. There's a pair of wood ducks there almost every time, and they always make it worth the trip.

  7. Scott,

    Thanks for your wonderful posts with such great information. I was able to see the Redhead duck yesterday and I knew to watch for it because I read about it here.


  8. EXCELLENT work! Some of those birds look like they are almost ready to fly off the image and through my computer!


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