The weather forecast said the fog would lift by 8 a.m., the time we were scheduled to begin our trip. Surprisingly(?), it was wrong. The fog didn’t truly disappear until almost 11 a.m., but happily, while the first two stops were very challenging for visibility, we were able to spot birds fairly well through the gradually fading mist; and the day was quite bright by the time we concluded the trip at the Merritt Island Visitor Center in the early afternoon.
Eighteen participants collectively saw 72 species of birds, but the unquestioned star of the day was a Virginia Rail, spotted by Jewel at the edge of a marsh while the group watched several feeding Wilson Snipe. The bird was a “Life Bird” for almost everyone on the trip and was cooperative enough for lengthy scope views before disappearing back into the reeds.
All of the expected egrets, herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Marbled Godwits, gulls, terns and ducks were present and performed well and afforded easy watching. Highlights included a lone Horned Grebe, several American Avocets, a couple of beautiful plumaged Northern Shoveler, dancing Reddish Egrets, an accommodating young Common Yellowthroat male, and the second highlight of the day: a male Redhead Duck in the canal right by the side of the road.
Traditionally the trip has ended in past years with a stop at the Viera Wetlands, but the driving route was closed most of the week, including the day of our trip. Jewel and Hart Rufe led the trip. (Marc Rosenthal has posted some wonderful trip photos on the St Lucie Audubon Facebook page, including one of the Virginia Rail.)
Report submitted by Hart Rufe
Bird photos by Hart Rufe, Marc Rosenthal and Richard Lynch
Group photos by Bob Blacka
Black Point Drive / Parrish Park / Sand Point Park / En Route Total of 74 Species
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Virginia Rail (MR)
American Bald Eagles, juv
Blue-winged Teal (RL)
Common Yellowthroat (HR, MR)
Northern Shoveler, male
Northern Shoveler, female