No Joke: Birding Merritt Island NWR: Part II

Greetings from Ft. Myers, where it is nearly 90 in the sun at 11am and very humid.  Can’t see much from the hotel window, but a short drive to the supermarket for Milk, there were a lot of Cattle Egrets, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Glossy Ibis, and Wood Stork.  Also a nice flock of Black Vultures.

Yesterday at Epcot, I was only able to three new species, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay and Purple Martin.  Sigh.

Of course the reason why we are down here is Ding Darling NWR, one of the best near tropical preserves in Florida.  So we are exciting about checking that out tomorrow (today is a pool day for the kids).  My main goal is Magnificent Frigatebird, which according to the checklist is listed as ‘common’, but we shall see.

So, I bet you are all wondering what the big, black, furry, 300 pound critter was?

Wild Boar

It is believed that hogs were first brought to Florida, and possibly the U.S., in 1539, when Hernando de Soto brought swine to provision a settlement he established at Charlotte Harbor in Lee County. However, it is possible that hogs had been brought to the same site in 1521 by Ponce de Leon during a brief visit. During the next 4 centuries, explorers and settlers brought pigs with them throughout Florida. Many of these animals were given to or stolen by Native Americans who expanded pig numbers and distribution in the State. Europeans and Native Americans alike often raised their swine in semi-wild conditions (at least until the mid-1900s when open range ended and it became illegal) where hogs were allowed to roam freely and only rounded up when needed. Many of these animals and those escaping from captivity established feral populations throughout Florida. These feral populations have been further supplemented through deliberate releases of hogs in many areas by private individuals and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to improve hunting opportunities (although the State no longer does this). (University of Florida)

After the Boar, Danika was feeling adventurous and decided to take the Long Pond Road, which wove its way through the preserve at a very slow rate of speed.  However this road is certainly less traveled and the bird life, which was increasing as the evening wore on, was nothing short of spectacular.



Female Red-breasted Merganser

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

Sunset at Merritt Island NWR

Glossy Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

The Spoonbills were the last birds of the day, light was fading fast and technically the park was closed, so we had to get out before they locked the gates!  Bottom line we never made it over to where the Scrub Jays live, but all in all it was a great day for all us.

Merritt Island List (* Life Bird)

Fish Crow, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Great-Blue Heron, Mallard, Anhinga, European Starling, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, American Swallow Tailed Kite, Laughing Gull, Brown Pelican, Double-Crested Cormorant, Royal Tern, Loggerhead Shrike, Black Skimmer, White Ibis, Tricolored Heron, Snowy Egret, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Tern, Reddish Egret*, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Killdeer, Pied-billed Grebe, Black-necked Stilt*, Red-winged Blackbird, Great Egret, Willet, Caspian Tern, Common Moorhen, Sora, Roseate Spoonbill*, Common Yellowthroat, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Stork*, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Flicker, Glossy Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Green Heron, Savannah Sparrow, Least Sandpiper, White Pelican*, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Harrier.


3 responses to “No Joke: Birding Merritt Island NWR: Part II

  1. I spent quite a lot of time at the National Wildlife Refuge overlooking Pelican Island. I saw a mother cat and her two little ones they were dark in color and the mother had dark legs and a grayish body and a medium tail that curled up. i wonder if it was a Bobcat. I was there when all the photographers were filming the bird from Mexico, a fork tailed something, they were at one time in one parking lot and I found the bird in the other parking lot sitting in a tree, quite alone. I didn’t have my camera at the time. Also a killdeer with three bands around it’s neck gave birth to four eggs and sat on them day after day in that horrible heat in the parking lot which had a lot of gravel in it. The park attendants marked the area where the bird and eggs were with some wood and orange plastic tape. I don’t know if this helped the bird or hindered it. The area where the bird built was on the edge of the parking lot but any cars driving close to the edge could run over it. Anyhow the bird and everything else disappeared after a few weeks. I don’t know how that bird could stand that unrelenting sun and why sit on the eggs? to keep them warm? The bird did it’s fake I’m injured routine whenever anyone came near the nest. How the eggs survived with raccoons in the area and snakes and whatever else. These birds are famous for having nests in odd places from what I’ve read on the subject. I don’t have a website and all this writing may not go through. So what happened to my little bird and it’s offspring I’m not sure.

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