Me... I have been back in Indiana now for three days from Merritt Island NWR and already I am anxious to go back! The refuge (along with Cape Canaveral National Seashore) are absolutely beautiful! More importantly, the entire Island is full of birds! I am not sure that all birders get so excited over this area but being somewhat new to the birding scene - it was heaven on earth to me! During the trip, I tallied a mere 58 species in three days, however, this was primarily composed of water birds or birds that I saw while observing the water. Three days is not near enough time to bird this area - you would need at least 1 full week. Of these 58 species, I gained 23 lifers! That's right, 23 lifers! This brings my world tally to 284 leaving me 216 more species to gain in 2009 to reach my goal of 500! Ecuador is key to reaching this goal!!
Florida Scrub Jay... it is hard for me to say that I have a favorite bird since I love all birds (excluding Starlings and House Sparrows which for my kids sake I try to appreciate) but during this particular trip this is THE bird I wanted to see the most. I was fortunate to see my first one at the Cape Canaveral National Seashore without any effort at all on my first evening in the area. The next day I had no luck finding any and the third day I found a group of 4-5 along the Scrub Ridge Trail in the Merritt Island NWR. They are awesome birds with cool personalities!
Savannah Sparrow... This was a super exciting bird for me since I have only a few Sparrows on my life list. Many are hard to identify and in order to count any bird as a lifer I want to be darn certain it is what I think it is. I was able to watch this species for a while and was able to get a solid identification after it was kind enough to give me a look at the yellow near the back of the beak. A nice looking bird!
Tricolored Heron... This cool bird gave a good show while hunting for a meal. This bird actually had a hunting method similar to a cat. It moved very slow and low to the water toward its prey.
Little Blue Heron... How can anyone not appreciate this?
White Pelican... and friends... I found this group of Pelicans while searching for Florida Scrub Jays and was happy for the find. It was one of two birds I thought I was going to miss that I was certain I would see while on the trip. The other was a Wood Stork which I never could find.
Roseatte Spoonbill... common but popular. I saw these beauties on several occasions so my assumption is that they are fairly common but many birders I spoke with seemed to be very anxious to find them. Wow.
Black Skimmer... Another fun bird to watch. I came across a group of about 100 of these birds and spent a good amount of time watching them hunt. It was especially cool when the entire group would fly up at once and seem to hunt every inch of the water area they were in at the time. They get their name from the way that they hunt that is they fly with their bill in the water "skimming" the top in hope of snagging a meal.