Friday, November 18, 2005

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival 4

The North Brevard hotspots field trip began with an extended stop on Hatbill Road off SR 46. The bus drove for a while down Hatbill and stopped only because water flooded the road. Rainwater has saturated the St. John’s River floodplain.

While standing at that intersection leading to Baxter Point, we saw and heard Eastern Phoebe (it sounds similar to the Black Phoebes in my back yard but doesn't look as dapper), Great Egret, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, American Bittern(!), Little Blue Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, American Robin, Common Yellowthroat, White Ibis, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture and Red-shouldered Hawk.

Retreating toward SR 46, we saw Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Northern Cardinal and Northern Mockingbird among others. We also watched three otters walk across the dirt road—a treat!

Next, we invaded leader Doug Stuckey’s home to observe visitors to the feeders and vegetation. I especially enjoyed the male and female Painted Buntings on two seed feeders in the back yard and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird guarding a tree in the front yard. Its little head swiveled left, right, left, right continuously before it flew to chase another hummer.

At the F.I.N.D. dredge site, we got to see American White Pelican, American Avocet (very good-looking birds in their black-and-white winter plumage), Hooded Merganser, White Ibis, Great Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe and Northern Harrier. On the way to the next hotspot, we spied American Kestrel and Loggerhead Shrike on the telephone wires.

Scottsmoor Landing provided fantastic views of Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Snowy Egret, Double-crested Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Royal Tern and Forster’s Tern. I especially enjoyed watching the seven red-eyed spoonbills feeding in the shallow water and swinging their bills left, right, left, right. What a great sighting to finish the day!

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