Actually, the first day was completely overcast, quite chilly and very windy – but beautiful nonetheless!
We were treated to sightings of many of the Merritt Island ‘regulars’, only a few of which are pictured here. White Ibis and Cattle Egrets like those above were ubiquitous, and groups of Roseate Spoonbills gathered in the shallow, calm, and more secluded inlets.
Another of the ‘regulars’ is the Reddish Egret – this one below was clearly hunkering down against the weather.
I was excited to watch this Black Skimmer above as he repeatedly sped by in one direction, then made a sharp turn and zoomed by in the opposite direction, along a narrow strip of the inlet. This elegant coastal bird has “a unique grace as it forages in flight. Skimmers feed by opening the bill and dropping the long, narrow lower mandible into the water, skimming along until they feel a fish.” (All About Birds-Black Skimmer).
Established in 1963 as a part of our National Wildlife Refuge system, Merritt Island is located right next to Cape Canaveral along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Now providing a ‘habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and wildlife’, the 140,000 acre Refuge has a longstanding connection with NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. See the Merritt Island refuge website to learn much more of the fascinating early history of this land and the refuge.
Just before we left, we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of several Florida Scrub Jays flitting back and forth across the road that leads to the National Seashore! Although we couldn’t really get clear shots, the image above captures the Scrub Jay’s appearance. This threatened bird is the only species that is found exclusively in Florida (All About Birds-Florida Scrub Jay).
Four of the photos on this post were taken by my husband with his amazing new iPhone 12 ProMax, but he didn’t want me to give him credit – so you’ll just have to guess which ones they are. ☺️
We’ve visited this wonderful place many times. Click HERE to see view some of my previous posts about Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. If you haven’t already been, I highly recommend you plan a visit~!