Eleven Birders enjoyed perfect weather, along with very cooperative birds at the Orlando Wetlands Park on Wednesday, 2/5 and tallied 57 species. Before the trip started, Eileen, Jim and Ken looked for the Yellow-breasted Chat with no success but did manage to find a Great-crested Flycatcher! Other highlight birds were the many Purple Gallinules, 5 Black-crowned Night Herons, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, many Roseate Spoonbills on the cypress dome, Black-neck Stilts, and an amazing sight of 4 Painted Buntings in an Elm tree enjoying its seeds, a long look at a flying A. Bittern and our tram drivers Randy & Mary put us on a Peregrine Falcon to add to our take for the day!
On Thursday, the group birded Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and enjoyed another great day with 64 species seen, including the Cinnamon Teal. Some other highlights were 11 Duck species, including Hooded Mergansers, Redhead, Canvasback, and Pintail, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Black-backed Gull, White Pelicans, an abundance of Roseate Spoonbills, a pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds, and 5 Scrub Jays at the entrance of the Canaveral National Seashore and Northern Gannets over the Ocean.
We really had an interesting start at W. Gator road with the Roseate Spoonbills, and hundreds of mating Horseshoe Crabs on the shore with birds lined up along the shore also, including ~200 Sanderlings that kept showing us their murmuration skills also! We had a surprise visit from Laura Lee Thompson, who started the Space Coast Birding Festival, and she gave us a great insight into how this beach area is the most productive in Florida for the Horseshoe Crabs. Total species for the combined trips came out at 90!
Another great pair of annual trips, our 10th of leading it, with our friends from Citrus and Hernando Audubon. Jim and Eileen