Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Space Coast: Sunday

As I raced toward the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex for the Wild Side of the KSC field trip, I had to laugh at the sight of a Black Vulture with its wings stretched out as it walked headfirst down a telephone wire, balancing like a circus performer on a tightrope.

The guides on the tour bus provided tons of information about the space center as well as the natural habitat and wild inhabitants within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore. Thank goodness for the brochures from which I'll digest more details later. (Click on the map for a much larger version.)

In addition to Bald Eagles, Globby Ibis, White Ibis and alligators, we saw Double-crested Cormorants, Brown Pelicans and Roseate Spoonbills before and during our first stop at station F on the causeway. In the distance, you can see the Vehicle Assembly Building -- one of the largest buildings in the world -- behind the three BRPEs.

Our second stop at The Beach House -- the only home that remains after NASA's buy-out of the island residents -- provided this information...

with the obvious reason just steps away...

During turtle nesting season, loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles lay eggs on this isolated beach. Human visitors typically are limited to the astronauts and their friends and family, who might stay at the house prior to a shuttle launch.

On the west side of the house, I glimpsed movement at the top of that bush...

and spied my first Florida Scrub-Jay. Woo hoo! (Maybe you can discern it if you click on the image for the larger version.)

A later stop provided an opportunity for leader Sarah Linney to lure the jays with shelled peanuts. I hope to see more of the colorful creatures at next year's festival. Maybe I'll see you there, too?


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