Merritt Island NWR Final Visit

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

Green Heron Chick

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.

Green Heron chick

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.

Green Heron chick

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.

Hybrid Heron

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.

Hybrid Heron/Egret

This is the same hybrid individual after having caught a fish.

Clapper Rail

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

Black-necked Stilt(Himantopus mexicanus). Ballerinas, I think, have a similar physiognomy. But Phalaropes(Phalaropus) pirouette better.

American Alligator

Big gator eyeballing us: I wouldn’t want to be caught in the water with this big fella.

Jimmy Durante Lizard

Lizard with a funny looking nose bump on its nose and curly tail. I haven’t a clue what species this is.

Grackle

Female Boat-tailed Grackle(Quiscalus major). Love the iridescent blue green of wings, and purple on nape of neck.

Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary(Agraulis vanillae) underwing pattern.

Wild Pig

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

Common Moorhen(Gallinula chloropus). So why do they call all Moorhens MoorHENS? Because at least half of them are Moormen? Or Moordrakes? Or Moormales?

Published by sabaiedmsncom

I am a former park ranger, and coastal dune preserve manager, now retired and photographing the places that suit my wanderlust. I usually have a general idea of where I want to travel to, but once on the road I just follow my nose: it seldom steers me wrong.

3 thoughts on “Merritt Island NWR Final Visit

  1. The images captured the experience in a wonderful way! Nin and I accompanied Loong Ed as he photographed wild life and taught us many names for birds and other techniques to use to spot animals in the wild. Thank you for the wonderful experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Ashley! It was truly a joy to share time together on Merritt Island. You and Nin were, as always, two sponges soaking up information about everything I had to share. An ex park ranger enjoys have someone to interpret to. And you both are a receptive audience.

    Like

  3. Love all your beautiful bird photos (except the grackle! They drive us crazy around here! 😁) re: swimming with the alligator; Harry’s stepdad had a small lake on his Athens, Tex property. There were MANY alligators in the lake but they just retreated to the north end of the lake when we were all swimming, skiing or fishing. Harry once caught a baby gator on his fishing line accidentally, but the little guy finally let go! (The hook couldn’t penetrate the inside of his mouth.)

    Like

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