Yesterday I drove out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I visited three areas: Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, Canaveral National Seashore, and East/West Gator Creek. When I arrived on the island and drove toward Blackpoint Dr, I saw a man pulled over looking into the trees. I decided to look at what he found, and it was a Peregrine Falcon! It was pretty far away, but I took some pictures of him perched in a tree. The drive itself was also enjoyable. All the usual birds were there, including 2 Gadwall, many American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Blue-winged Teal, and Hooded Mergansers. Most highlights were mostly in the area near the first parking area. There was a large flock of shorebirds there made up of Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, Western Sandpipers, Red Knots, Long-billed Dowitchers and Short-billed Dowitchers.
From there I went to the Canaveral Seashore where some fun ducks had been reported. At “vista 5” there were thousands of Coots and Lesser Scaup, but there were also several Canvasback and and Redhead Ducks there. In these field reports, I often show photos I’m less than happy with, but the lighting was so poor at vista 5 that I took very few photos and then threw those I did take away. But another birding couple was there, and they let me get some good looks of the ducks in a scope. Next I went to vista 8, where a Long-tailed Duck had been reported. After some time looking for the duck, another birder found it in his scope, and he let me have a look. It was too far away for photos (I could barely find the bird with my camera), but this was my first Long-tailed Duck in Florida. From there I went to parking lot 7 just to see what might be flying along the sea shore. It was nice to find about 15 Black Scoters and about 12 Northern Gannet. Some were close enough to be seen without binoculars, but all were far enough way to only give me passable photos to show here.
Next I drove to East and West Gator Creek. I wish I saved more time to visit here. There were many birds here. I picked up a Bonaparte’s Gull and about 20 Marbled Godwit here, but I also came across a large flock of gulls, skimmers, and shorebirds. I had no time left to give them much attention, but I’m guessing there were at least 50 Laughing Gulls, 100 Black Skimmers, and an assortment of Least Sandpipers, Red Knots, Dunlin and Dowitchers.