Category Archives: ‘MINWR

Scrub-Jay lotto…

I wanted to go to The North Brevard Strawberry Festival. Of course the weekend weather plummeted, turning cold and rainy, Johnny wasn’t too interested in going to the festival. He knew he would soon reap the benefits of strawberry preserves that I had intended on canning. While the Doral Golf tournament was on, he could stay cozy and not deal with traffic and people. Eden and utopia are closely matched in this scenario.

I decided that since I had already planned on going to the festival and now changed my mind, I still wanted to get out. There is a tiny road I see all the time, but I’ve never been down there. A sign says it’s Scrub Ridge Trail. Since it’s a side road within The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I figured it had somethin to do with Scrub-Jays.

A cool little bird, it is THE ONLY bird endemic to Florida. This excerpt came from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology;

“A species that today numbers fewer than 6,000 individuals in the wild and that exists nowhere in the world outside of Florida. In a state whose human population has nearly quadrupled since 1960, the Florida Scrub-Jay has lost much of its choice scrub habitat to citrus groves and subdivisions.” 

My tangent on destruction of property to accomodate condo developers will come at a later date.

After I read that the hiking trail is only one mile, I knew that I could take my time and maybe see some stuff. What are the odds of me finding a Scrub-Jay in an area I don’t know?  Nil quickly came to mind. But I didn’t care. It was better than bein hemmed up in the apartment all day. Johnny decided if there wouldn’t be traffic and old ladies in funny hats, he was in for a hike.

15 minutes later, I was hopping out of the truck, with camera gear and Johnny in tow. There were two paths to pick from, and we chose the north path.

The first thing I noticed was there had been a recent controlled burn. Very recent.

 CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE 🙂

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The refuge has controlled burns often; I understand the concept to a point, but I can’t help but think it displaces wildlife and that’s where my confusion lies. But, that too is another suject for another day,

My heart sank when I saw the burnt palmettos. That, with the cold and rainy day made me think I shoulda stayed home and watched golf. We walked the back trail and saw nothing.  Egrets and ‘spoonbills farrrrrrrrr away, a couple of gator slides, and a 9 Banded Armadillo.

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We went as far as we could before the ground turned to marsh. The rain wasn’t helpin. We circled back and at the fork, took the high road in. I silently hoped I made the right choice. I thought this had to lead to the truck, but if it didn’t, it would be fine. The marl was nice to walk on, and it was dry. About a 1/4 mile. Nothin. Then a Scrub-Jay appeared. On the right,

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Then another. With breakfast even. BONUS!

Those two flew off to dine, and another came to the bush at my shoulder. Happy to pose for me, I shot a few images

Florida Scrub Jay.

I can’t believe our luck!  The only thing that topped that was I had picked the right road to get us back to the truck!  WINNING!!! What a great day!

Bird Migration at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

It’s been awhile, so I wanted to share some images I have of the wonderous end of a journey led by instinct for the birds that end up on a little parcel of land in Central Florida every year. Their goal is to produce the next generation, and this is where the crowds and cameras come into play. After the labors of their travels bring them here, they settle in for the cool weather we call winter. This is what I see………………………………

CLICK on images for better resolution. 🙂

Egrets in air combat
Egrets in air combat on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
MINWR
Egrets in air combat on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Royal Tern Ballett on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

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Egrets in air combat on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
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Egrets in air combat on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Royal Tern Fishing
Royal Tern on The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Royal Terns

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Sunrise on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

There you have it. Now you know where I’ve been. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do sharing it.. Have a great day!

Susan

Osprey Mom Teaching Fledgling to fish

Hi. We made it through the first of the holiday tribulations and are getting back to a normal routine. Funny how long it doesn’t take for me to get accustomed to the traffic and lines. Not one for the whole Black Friday thing, we opted to do our holiday a different way,by Johnny and his crew playing a gig for the members of the group they belong to. It was a nice, close knit way to spend the day giving thanks. Seeing as how we were at the gig all day, instead of the traditional turkey feast, starving, we opted for Waffle House. 🙂 Different, but we had fun with the folks working, which gave us a moment to appreciate everything we had, mostly and foremost each other. No matter if we were in a field all day playing guitar, or at a mansion, as long as we were together, that is what the day was for us. We are rich… 🙂 Hope your holiday was great.

Enough of that. Let’s get to the title of the post, shall we?

Went fishing yesterday, and while the current wasn’t doing what we wanted it to do to produce the “bite”, there was a bunch of activity going on. I kept hearing the screeching of Osprey, and lot of it. Incessant even. Being around the water, it is a familiar sound, but this was non-stop. The birds were acting differently; dive-bombing, yelling at each other, and all clustered up over the river, diving, diving, diving.  With not much luck.Not the norm at all.

Then I realized. This was school. “How to catch your own fish, because now you can fly” school. I wanted to share this; I will call this my first of hopefully many “documentary” stories with images. Photo Journalism is what they call it I think. 🙂

One of the many Osprey. So you can tell  the difference between a male and female Osprey. The male has a white chest, while the female has a spotty, “necklace” or freckles if you will….  As you can see, this is a male.

Click images to enlarge…….. 

Osprey on the huntBelow, you will see the art of hovering, dive bombing, retrieving, and returning with food.

This is how you hover.

Osprey and flidging.

Bend your wings and dive like this to gain speed. Keep your eye on the prize……………

Diving Osprey

Before you hit the water, stretch you legs and extend your talons, so you can grab your food. Keep your eye on the prize.

Osprey diving

Get ready to get wet, but that will work in your favor. Grab your prize.

Osprey hitting the water

Now that you have what you want, take it and go.  Like this.

Osprey success

While the fledgling was paying close attention, it took no time to try to beg the food and take it as it’s own.

osprey fledgling wanting food

Hey!  What about me??

Osprey and fledgling learning to hunt

A couple aerobatic maneuvers teach the baby how to keep its food in the event of a rogue trying to steal it……….

Osprey and fledgling.....

That’s that for today.  I hope you enjoy this as much I did when I saw it. 🙂 It did have a happy ending. the baby shared the fish in a nearby tree………… 🙂

Susan