St. Lucie Audubon Society

The elegant Snowy Egret with its yellow feet is always a joy to see.

JANUARY 6, 2018, SLAS FIELD TRIP REPORT

MERRITT ISLAND & VIERA WETLANDS

Weather often seems to be problematic for the annual Merritt Island field trip, and this year was no exception. Despite some of the coldest temperatures of the year, 11 intrepid birders braved the elements and were rewarded with 70 species of birds, most seen by all observers, and the sun warmed up later in the day by the time we rounded up the trip with a quick tour of the Viera Wetlands on the way home.

While no “super rare” birds were spotted on this year’s trip, the numerous Roseate Spoonbills, White Pelicans, and several large flying mixed flocks of virtually all the herons, ibis, Woodstorks and Spoonbills were quite spectacular.

While the variety of ducks normally expected was down, there were large numbers of Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and Lesser Scaup (right). Shorebirds on the sand flats along Black Point Drive included Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, a couple of Black-bellied Plovers, Willets and a lone Marbled Godwit. Side by side Caspian and Forster’s Terns afforded good opportunity to compare each species with the other.

At Viera we finally found Ring-necked Ducks, but there were very few Hooded Mergansers at both MINWR and Viera. The normally numerous Sanderling at Parrish Park on the way to Black Point Drive took the day off on Saturday, but two Horned Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers as well as a small flock of Black Skimmers made up for the missing shorebirds.

Eight different Common Loons is probably the most we have ever seen on this trip. While we could not find an American or Least Bittern, Limpkin, or Wilson’s Snipe at either location, a Purple Gallinule (left) at Viera was probably the highlight of the day. The only Bald Eagle seen was an adult flying low over I-95 on the way from MINWR to Viera which all observers in the car caravan were able to see. Finally, a lone tom Wild Turkey was foraging along-side I-95 on the route home from Viera.

Kathy Mayshar, substituting for vacationing Field Trip Chairman, Adella Blacka, organized the trip and Hart and Jewel Rufe served as trip leaders.

Report submitted by Hart Rufe

Click for the bird list

Anhinga

Caspian Tern

Common Gallinule

Dunlin & Short-billed Dowitcher

Forster's Tern

Green Heron

Grey Catbird

Lesser Scaups

Marbled Godwit

Reddish Egret

 

Roseate Spoonbill & Reddish Egret