On a recent visit to Bear Island Wildlife Management area a few small flocks of American Avocets were feeding in some of the shallow impoundments. The one on the left below with the pretty brown head is displaying breeding colors while the white one on the right is non-breeding.
Several Bald Eagles are nesting in the area and one had just had an unsuccessful dive at the other end of this impoundment. When the Eagle soared over the Avocets took off in a panic.
Once in the air they tried to group together.
The Eagle didn’t pursue them but they didn’t wait around to find out.
This is the tree the Red-shouldered Hawk first chose when he first left the open area with his frog lunch. He was much more protected than on the ground but I could tell he was still uneasy as at least two other Hawks were calling nearby.
He took to the air again and I thought I had seen the last of him. I turned the other way back towards the end of the pond to watch the herons and heard a kerfuffle of wings and squawking off to my right.
I’m not quite sure what happened next as my view was obstructed, but soon the Hawk with the frog changed direction again. You can see a third Hawk in the tree in the background between the tail and wing of Hawk One below.
He went on his way without being followed and presumably finished the frog in peace.
Roseate Spoonbills in flight are quite attractive, with their beautiful pink wing feathers with the red/pink bands across the edge fully open. This beauty is quite a contrast to their featherless heads and gnarly beaks.
Like the other wading birds I’m more familiar with, the Spoonbills are elegant flyers, with an effortless looking lift off that shows off all their colors.
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.
A small group of various ducks and American Coots, about fifty or so, was gathered near the edge of the Black Point Wildlife Drive. They didn’t pay much attention to the birders and photographers that stopped to have a look on this morning.
This Northern Pintail pair found each other in the group…
…then went about their business.
Some of the pairs took off as others landed, a constant changing of the group throughout the morning.
This is the closest I’ve seen a Pintail and was delighted to see how gorgeous they are.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 01/28/2018.
We went back to Bear Island Wildlife Management Area for another try at seeing the Tundra Swans taking off from their overnight resting spot. We couldn’t get very close but we did get to see, and hear, a few.
These swans can weigh up to 23 pounds (10 Kilos) so getting into the air takes a huge effort and considerable runway distance.
The noise of the flapping of their wings echoing across the pond first alerted me. The ducks and other swans behind them paid no attention.
There are small numbers of Teals, mostly Blue-winged, at the pond and there is plenty of duck weed to keep them fed. This pair decided to try the other end of the pond and took a low flight to get there.
Blue-winged TealsThe white line on the far shoreline is ice, the final remnant of our snow storm and cold snap.