This morning was my best birding morning at Marl Bed Flats, though the photographic side of my brain must have shut down. I went there early this morning hoping to meet with the Space Coast Birding Festival group. I thought they were going to meet there at 6:00am, but apparently they were meeting elsewhere and then driving here, so I scurried off by myself to find an American Woodcock. It was very dark, and I was using the flashlight app for my android phone as my light source. I soon came by many cows, which I wanted to avoid, so I took a pretty circuitous route out to the flats. Somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 am, I saw a chunky snipe-like bird with more round wings flying from the open fields to the trees. Could that be it? It was too dark to make out any details in the bird. Then I heard a peent! call. Woo hoo! One life bird.
I then walked around looking for whatever else I could find. I found a Northern Harrier and several Bald Eagles, and one young eagle flew right over me, but I had my ISO set way too high; I forgot to change it after the sun came up. So my photos of this wonderful bird are kind of grainy. Then I saw a Merlin flying by, which I don't see often in Seminole County. Merlins are one of my favorite birds. Again, I photographed the bird as it flew, but in my excitement I forgot to add extra exposure compensation, so I had to add "shadows" in Lightroom much more than I like. One more grainy shot.
I then found the birding group. I decided to walk up and say hi. As I approached the group I heard the leader say, "Has everyone seen it yet? If not, raise your hand." Not knowing what I hadn't seen, I raised my hand. It was a Le Conte's Sparrow!!! I've been looking for these here since November, and this morning I walked in on a group that had already located it for me! I saw it briefly before it flew away, so I have no photos, but I know now where to look in the future. Woo hoo! Two life birds. Next I heard an American Pipit, which is my first of the year. Of course, no photos.