Merritt Island NWR

Just rolled into chez Stiteler--how will I ever get all my Florida blogging in before I leave for Atlanta on Thursday? Above is one of the many palm warblers that were flitting around the hotel and just about everywhere else we went in Florida.

Yesterday afternoon we headed over to Merritt Island NWR in Titusville, FL. We pulled over so folks could test out some digiscoping stuff. I was trying to get a photo of some of a shorebird called a ruddy turnstone. Alas, it was too close to get the scope on it! It was just as easy to take a photo the regular way. That's my shadow and the turnstone in the upper right hand corner.

Eventually, I got some distance between the turnstone and me. C'mon, even if you don't care for shorebirds, you have to admit, that's kind of a cool looking shorebird. Look at those bright orange legs!

As we were going down the road, we pulled over for some wood storks. If you look at the tops of the trees, you can see a couple of wood storks. Would you like to see them even closer?

Is it a beauty? What? That's not close enough of that dry, wrinkly skin? You want more?

Almost makes you think that this is what a white ibis would look like at 80 years old. These guys mostly eat fish, but will go for weird things like baby alligators and cow dung. Kind of makes sense with a face like that. You want more of the face?

Breathe in the wood stork, breathe out. Breathe in the wood stork, breathe out. Look at that insane nostril too. Cool bird.

We didn't spend huge amounts of time at Merritt, a storm was rolling in. I was hoping for some roseate spoonbill action in the sun, but didn't see any.

Until the rain came and it got darker, then it was spoonbill city.

Here's a spoonbill mixed in with a bunch of tricolored herons. As I was loading this onto the blog, Non Birding Bill walked behind me and asked, "Is that a roseate spoonbill I see?" I asked how he knew what a spoonbill was and he answered, "Because it's the one bird that actually looks like its name. It's rosy and it's bill looks like a spoon. That must have been the one day Audubon wasn't drunk when he was naming birds."

It's good to be home. Brace yourself for some pretty hot bittern action coming in the next 24 hours.