Saturday, March 30, 2013

Merritt Island and Gator Land, Orlando

 Hungry Gator

 Roseate Spoonbill

Tri-colored Heron

For the past couple of years, my friend Edward James (pictured on the left) accompanied me to Merritt Island, and I missed his presence this time around, for I went alone.

I planned to arrive in Orlando Monday night, giving me an entire day to enjoy this area;
however, bad weather forced me to arrive not at 10:00 pm but at 3:45 in the morning.  But I managed some sleep and to arrive at Merritt Island around 12:30 Tuesday afternoon for a six-hour stay.

Two year ago, in addition to some exciting birding, Edward and I saw a River Otter,  and last year's visit featured Manatees.  No River Otter this year, but I did see a quite a few birds, a Manatee, and a first for me:  an Atlas V rocket launch.

The photographs from this excursion also include a series of pictures of Black Skimmers hunting for food and a number of other birds, plus, of course the Manatee.

Excursion to Gator Land

 Gator Land Rookery

Early Saturday morning, I drove to Gator Land, not a place I would normally visit, having seen plenty of gators over the thirty years I have visited--often twice a year, Florida.

I read, however, that in 1991, Gator Land added an impressive alligator pond in a area of Mangrove and other swamp trees.  Well, the gators killed rats, raccoons, snakes and other creatures that feed on nesting birds and their young in particular.

Once the birds discovered this
save haven, they began gathering there, creating a fabulous rookery with many species, from Tri-colored Herons to White Egrets, from Anhingas to Wood Storks.

And Gator Land allows birds into the area at 7:30, a couple hours before the opening bell--and the area attracts good crows of very serious birders.

I experienced lens envy! 

The weather did not cooperate all that much, for fog gave way to heavy rain, but the skies eventually brightened, and I got some pretty good pictures.

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