A January Jaunt: Merritt Island

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was another stop on our recent trip to Titusville, Florida. Like Lake Apopka, the refuge has a wildlife drive that leisurely meanders along lakes, marshes, and roadside canals. To say that this place is abounding in beauty would be an understatement!

Our first morning there, I was taking pictures of some birds (like the Little Blue Heron and the Great Egret below) that were breakfasting in an area where the early sun was creating some nice reflections…

…when a Belted Kingfisher announced its arrival with a shrill call and landed on the uppermost branch of some nearby shrubbery.

I was thrilled to get several shots off before she (you can tell this lovely is a lady by the rusty chest coloring) flew off. Typically, these birds taunt me by making an appearance and then darting away faster than I can get them in focus!

A bird that seemed to be present everywhere I looked was the Snowy Egret. They are so beautiful, with their wintry white feathers…

…but are also quite cunning! Several times I witnessed one trailing step-for-step behind a White Ibis, waiting for him to stir up fish with his long bill, so that he could quickly steal a meal.

I also found it fascinating to watch the Reddish Egrets as they hunted. Sometimes he (or she) would run across the shallow water to get the fish moving…

…and other times he would stealthily tiptoe along, sneaking up on his prey.

Every now and then he would stop and shade the water with his large wings to get a better view of whether or not there was a snack to be snatched.

Occasionally he came up empty, but more often than not he emerged with a delectable morsel to munch!

Although not as loud or flashy as some of the other birds at the refuge, I found the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs to be lovely in a more subtle sort of way. To be honest, I probably would have overlooked them had a fellow birdnerd not pointed them out. It was peaceful to watch them quietly foraging in the shallow water.

It can be hard to tell the greater from the lesser when they are alone (at least for me!) but easier when they are in a cluster or side by side.

I thought about highlighting this Green Heron as the final bird of this post, who was perched along the water’s edge and then flew off when it got a bit too crowded for his liking…

…but then I thought better of it. I shall leave him for next time, when I share some of the beauties we saw at the Orlando Wetlands. (And did you notice how I was cleverly able to sneak a few photos of him in anyway? I think that cunning little Snowy Egret must be rubbing off on me!)

This was our third year visiting Merritt Island NWR and I have to say, it never seems to get old! There is always boundless beauty to behold!

8 thoughts on “A January Jaunt: Merritt Island

  1. Oh my! What a wonderful place? It reminds me quite a bit of the Shiawasee Nature Preserve here in Michigan. In summer there’s a drive around it too. But I hike through it quite a lot. Down there I suppose there’d be snakes and alligators and stuff you’d want to watch out for! BUT I think I’ll add it to my life of places to visit if I ever get down to Florida!

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