We had seen a few White Pelicans in the air earlier in the morning so weren’t too surprised to see them resting on the ground at the edge of a pond and happily stopped to see so many. They were quite a distance off the road but there was a clear view and I would say there were at least two hundred birds.
A number of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets were sprinkled around the periphery of the group, including this group looking like a police line up.
Most of the Pelicans were preening or resting. A few Coots were going about their business in the water around them.
One daring Great Egret landed right in the middle of small group of Pelicans. The Pelicans took no notice.
Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 2/21/2018.
Mallards doing the Mallard bath in a pond, as can be seen throughout most of the United Sates and Canada. We rarely see Mallards in the other ponds we visit, but Magnolia Cemetery is more of an urban location where you would expect them to congregate.
The sun was perfect on this early February afternoon and the Mallards were enjoying an unseasonably warm day.
After bathing they had a dead tree trunk to perch on, out of the water and with a good view of potential hazards. This pond does host a few Alligators, I have seen fox on the cemetery grounds, and a few Red-shouldered Hawks could be heard nearby.
The same pair of Hooded Mergansers as yesterday’s post had places to go as they were out for a swim around one of Magnolia Cemetery’s ponds. The male gradually caught up to the female as they passed this group of Mallards on the edge of a small island.
The Mergansers weren’t in such a hurry that they chose to fly, but they didn’t divert even as the Mallards went about their preening and flapping.
The Mergansers continued on their way, the female in the lead, headed out into the middle of the pond.
I saw a lot of Roseate Spoonbills the first three days of my Florida trip in January but at a distance, behind low scrub and/or in low light. Finally on the third afternoon we came upon a flock of mixed wading birds in a marsh that was close enough to the road for clear photographs.
The flock was working from our right to the left, both wading and taking short flying hops.
The Ibis and Spoonbills seem quite content to hang out together.
This Roseate Spoonbill trio really show off the darker pink band on their wings, a contrast with the White Ibis that has just a hint of black on his wing tips.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018
A fellow photographer spotted the Pelicans at quite a distance when we stopped to view some ducks along Black Point Wildlife Drive. We watched them approach for what seemed like several minutes but probably was only 30 seconds, hoping they would land in the pond in front of us.
Instead they treated us to an amazing aerial ballet, with the birds shifting position in the group, breaking apart and reforming, in an elegant flight display.
The American White Pelican is one of North America’s largest birds, with a wingspan from 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters)!
As they glided by I could see that the individual birds adjusted their altitude as well as their flock position and no matter how close they got to each other there was no evidence of an in-flight bump.
Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.
The turtles are the most likely to be seen sharing space with other creatures around the swamp and ponds. They crave the sun just like the alligators on this reptile ramp and don’t show any fear in the presence of an alligator that could easily eat them.
Wading birds like this Great Egret like a sunny spot, too, and easily find a spot in between the turtles on a nearby ramp.
I don’t know what this “foot in the air” display from the turtle just to the right of the egret is all about, but a little further along in another small pond I saw it again, with both hind feet straight out.
Narcissus are touted as spring blooming plants but here we are in December and once again this year I’ve spotted some gracing the pathway to the dike around the old rice field we frequent.
This path is lined with huge trees and not much light reaches the ground in any season making it a surprise that these bulbs can rejuvenate year after year. This is not an area that is currently being tended and doesn’t look like it has for some number of years.
A bee found his way to the bloom and checked each cup carefully.
My sunset photographs rarely do the real scene justice. Often it is because there is nothing in the foreground to make a good composition. These dead trees on a nearby beach are a little something but I didn’t get a great angle.
Knowing the right spots for the time of year is a help. So is luck. Now that we are in our second year in South Carolina I might do better with the locations. For the luck, all you can do is get out there.