This past Saturday I decided to visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I haven't been here in forever. I've spent most of my time in Orange and Seminole Counties, so it was very nice to return to MINWR. I was hoping to add some birds to my year list and collect some better photographs of birds that are around here this time of year.
I began at sunrise at Shiloh Marsh, hoping for Clapper Rails and Sharp-tailed Sparrows; they're very common here this time of year, and you're pretty sure to see them if you get out on the marsh as the sun is rising. I saw all three species, but I was only able to photograph Saltmarsh Sparrows; I only saw one Nelson's Sparrow, and it was being too uncooperative.
I couldn't believe how many Saltmarsh Sparrows there were, though. My conservative estimate is 8 (they move under cover so well, it's possible that I saw the same bird pop up in two places, so I was pretty conservative). With just a little pishing, they popped up for me, and a couple times they were too close for my autofocus. Their such beautiful birds. I spent little time looking for other birds in the area, but I did photograph a Horned Grebe and a Great Egret on the road on the way out of the Shiloh Marsh.
I next visited Parish Park--the bridge over the Indian River that leads you onto the island. A Surf Scoter was seen here a few days before, so I was hoping to see it, since it would have been a Florida Lifer for me. However, it was nowhere to be found. There were lots of shorebirds there though, so I took a few minutes to photograph some of the more cooperative birds along the shore.
East Gator Creek
From there I decided to drive down East Gator Creek. I didn't have much time before I had to leave, but a Snow Goose has been hanging out here, so I saved a little time to look for it. Last weekend was the last weekend for duck hunting, so hunters were everywhere, and I thought for sure this bird would be gone or dead. However, it was right where people said it was, and it was extremely cooperative.
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