Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Space Coast: Friday

I totally lucked out with Friday's Zellwood/Lake Apopka field trip. The leaders included Gian Basili, Adam Kent, Alvaro Jaramillo, Jeff Bouton and Bill Thompson III. Gian works for St. John's River Water Management District as a conservation biologist and provided the inside scoop on the area's history (described in the link above) and current projects.

I felt particularly welcome on this trip when the buses turned right onto Hooper Road, leading to the first stop and the three Common Ground-Doves huddled together -- a female between two pinkish males. They inspired much scopage and photography.

I completely related to the huddling doves. The cold temperature made me crave body heat, too. Next time, my suitcase will hold a windbreaker, mittens, silk long johns and a knit cap. I had no idea that Florida could be so chilly!

We walked down a trail with stops here and there. I particularly enjoyed the Palm Warblers pumping their tails, Northern Harriers and American Kestrels.

A ride in the bus took us to Lust Road, where the roller-chopped vegetation enticed many raptors. I loved seeing so many birds of prey - Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks - perched on snags and the power lines or soaring overhead and calling.

Here, Al helps with an I.D. on Lust Road.

Farther down the road, we paused at a Barn Owl nestbox that revealed at least one occupant's head through the entry hole. Very fun to see the ghostly face appear in the shadowed nestbox.

Another drive took us to this spot...

where we saw a Purple Gallinule feeding on the opposite bank. What an incredible-looking bird!

The last stop included this sight. I so enjoy the eerie appearance of Spanish moss.

I especially enjoyed the great look at a Limpkin, along with Black-necked Stilts and Glossy Ibis. Our trip included many other species, but you'll just have to go on the field trip yourself to know what they are!


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