I made a final visit to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with Ashley French Scott, my Shelter In Place Host and her son Nin(Louis). The day was clear, but not too hot, following a day of heavy rain. Once again the location was off the Black Point Road on the Wildlife Drive
One of the highlights of the day was a colonial nesting site for Green Herons: there were about a dozen or so nests within the same grove of Red Mangrove trees, each with Green Heron chicks at various stages of development. These were the youngest, fuzziest chicks.
These three chicks represented a slightly older brood with a tad less fuzz and more flight feathers appearing. At this stage they were hopping about from branch to branch, flapping their short wings in preparation to fledge.
This individual was among three others with just a hint of fuzz on their heads, and well developed flight feathers. The iridescent blue green and copper colored(rufus) colors are also emerging. Note the blueish legs that replace the grey, cryptic coloration of the youngest chicks.
Another exciting experience was seeing a hybrid: very probably a cross between a Snowy Egret(Eudocimus albus) and a Tricolored Heron(Egretta tricolor). They are both very common on the refuge and share the same genus. They only way of telling for sure is to take a tissue sample and run a DNA test on the tissue.
This is the same hybrid individual after having caught a fish.
A Clapper Rail(Rallus crepitans). The Ridgeway Rail(Rallus obsoletus), formerly the California clapper rail, and the Clapper Rail have been recently split into two separate species. The Clapper Rail can be found along the Atlantic coast, some Caribbean islands, the Gulf Coast, the eastern part of Central America and a few other inland places of Central America. This is a life bird for me.
Black-necked Stilt(Himantopus mexicanus). Ballerinas, I think, have a similar physiognomy. But Phalaropes(Phalaropus) pirouette better.
Big gator eyeballing us: I wouldn’t want to be caught in the water with this big fella.
Lizard with a funny looking nose bump on its nose and curly tail. I haven’t a clue what species this is.
Female Boat-tailed Grackle(Quiscalus major). Love the iridescent blue green of wings, and purple on nape of neck.
Gulf Fritillary(Agraulis vanillae) underwing pattern.
Wild Pig(Sus scrofa). Introduced wherever British Empire ships touched shore. The sun never set on the British Empire, nor did it set on the pigs that they placed on their(former) empire so they could have bacon. They didn’t really have to do that: now they are like four-legged plows that turn the soil over looking for roots, fungi and other things to eat. Around here, I am told they are called Boars. Which is silly, because a boar is a male pig. So is a female pig, called a sow, supposed to be called a boar. Very sexist and provincial. But who am I to question local names?
Common Moorhen(Gallinula chloropus). So why do they call all Moorhens MoorHENS? Because at least half of them are Moormen? Or Moordrakes? Or Moormales?