Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Florida Part 2: Merritt Island and Gatorland

I've been very busy since my last post but I will continue where I left off. This post is on our final two days in the Orlando area.
    The day after we got our rental car we headed east to Titusville, to visit Merritt Island NWR. We spent a whole day exploring this area, the most productive birding of the trip to that point. We drove the black point wildlife drive and did some other birding around the island, as well as checking out the manatees which were also present. The day was fairly cold and windy, which definitely reduced the standards of the days birding, but I did end up seeing almost 60 species. The highlights for me being Reddish Egret, Roseate spoonbill, Belted Kingfisher, Willet, Eastern Meadowlark as well as Florida Scrub-Jay, although the views of this species were unfortunately rather brief. Here I saw the first yank waders of the trip, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Dunlin, Killdeer and Long-Billed dowitcher. We also saw first our first wild alligator here.
    The wildlife drive and ponds on Merritt really had astounding levels of birdlife, nearly all of which were incredibly tame. The quality of the photography from the day is slightly lower than that of the last post, as most of it was taken from the car or road. 
    The day after the trip to Merritt Island we left Orlando and made our way south to Palm Beach. Before leaving Orlando we spent the morning at Gatorland, a "Theme Park" renowned for its alligators and crocs, as well as its breeding heron/egret rookeries. Here I had good views of Swallow-Tailed Kite and my first Black-crowned Night heron and Downy Woodpeckers of the trip.
Little Blue Heron -
One of the more common herons in Florida but stunning birds and they were always a pleasure to see in adult plumage like this.

American White Ibis

Lesser Yellowlegs

Glossy Ibis

Blue-Winged Teal

Pied-Billed Grebe

Roseate Spoonbill, Adult in breeding plumage

White Pelicans

Great Egret in the centre, background gives a bit of a flavour of the abundance of birdlife here.

Northern Flicker peeking out of nest hole

Phone-scoped Eastern Meadowlark

Manatee tail fluke

Manatee head

American Kestrel

Next pole up from the Kestrel, Osprey

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Swallow-Tailed Kite

Downy Woodpecker

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

Black Vulture

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