Big Day

Posted by Jane N on

Thanks to my Florida family I had a fantastic break from the cold and snow of our New England winter. I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the warmth and see so many beautiful birds without their generosity. I left Boston at breakfast time with an icy mix falling. We had to sit on the tarmac while the plane was de-iced before taking off, but it was only a slight delay. By lunch time I was standing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico along Sanibel causeway!

On Monday Keith & Kris picked up Sissy & I and we all headed to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples for a day of birding. We had a splendid day walking the boardwalk thru the swamp. We saw a total of 17 different species, not the highest days total but we saw real quality birds. Like the delicate Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, the vibrant colorful Painted Bunting and the always impressive Pileated Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in North America.

All thou I did my best cat calling I couldn't get the Gray Catbird to show it's self for Keith & Kris. He was there I saw him and he was answering my calls but they just didn't get a chance to see him. Last year when I visited we met at Myakka State Park for some birding and I heard the Catbird then too but we couldn't spot him. I tried so hard to get that darn bird to show himself to no avail. Sorry, Keith & Kris, I guess we will have to try again next year.

Bill outdid himself this trip, he planned a trip for us to Merritt Island on the Atlantic Coast. We drove from one side of the state to the other to explore the Cocoa Beach area. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was a whole different habitat than any other places I have visited before. Bill took us along the Black Point Wildlife Drive, which is a seven mile one-way drive across the vast estuary. The dirt road was just barely above sea level, we were driving along a raised dike, it felt as if we were eye to eye with the wading birds we passed. We were a part of their environment.

We saw Alligators cruising the shallows and the dike was lined with flowering thistle of pink and white with colorful butterflies floating about. And boy o boy did we see birds!!!! We saw 44 different species! We actually saw more than that, but we couldn't identify some. Bill was taking pictures of the birds in hopes that we could ID them later when we could study them closer on the laptop.

I was able to add new birds to my life list. I got to see the unique American Avocet, actually I saw a dozen or so of these graceful long billed shore birds. I got to see the colorful Purple Gallinule, Sissy & I watched as a pair was fearsomely fighting and causing a ruckus in the marsh. The most unexpected sighting was when we came across a small flock of Roseate Spoonbills feeding in the shallows. Previous years these birds eluded me no matter how hard we tried to find them yet this year we stumble upon a flock. Isn't that the way it goes. But what a beautiful way to end our day on Merritt Island.

My grand total of bird sightings for my 6 days in Florida was 73. But defiantly my all time best Big Day total was our day on Merritt Island! Thank you, Bill! Thank you, Keith & Kris, for a great day in the swamp. Thank you, my dear sister, for a very memorable trip I miss you already. Till next year.

Happy Birding, Jane

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