MERRITT ISLAND PHOTOGRAPHY IN JUNE

Where and Why?

Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge (Merritt) is adjacent to the Canaveral National Seashore on Central Florida’s East Coast and is well known as one of Florida’s premier winter and early spring birding hotspots.  Merritt Island bird photography in June, however, is not exactly high on many photographer’s “must visit” list.  OK, I confess that I  keep a  “must visit” list and assume you also keep one.  In fact, mine is organized geographically by month and subject.  Anyway, Merritt Island was definitely not on my June list until I heard roseate spoonbills were numerous at the Refuge.  That is all it took and I was in the car heading south on I 95.  As I was driving down, my plans were to photograph roseate spoonbills and possibly a landscape then head home. 


 
So how was my trip?

I am happy to report my expectations were wrong.  This trip provided so many opportunities to photograph wading birds that I am heading back in the next couple weeks. Why?  There were  large numbers of reddish egrets, snowy egrets, green herons, and roseate spoonbills racing around the ponds of Black Point Drive in search of a meal.  Photo opportunities were everywhere.

Encounters of the Reddish Kind:  (No not Spoonbills)

Upon arriving at Merritt, my first stop was Black Point Drive, which is a 7 mile one way auto tour.  Immediately after entering Black Point Drive, a reddish egret welcomed me to the Refuge.

Reddish Egret in a pond

A REDDISH EGRET AT THE ENTRANCE TO BLACK POINT DRIVE.

I spent a few minutes photographing this egret before deciding to drive further to locate the spoonbills. Before I could drive 300 feet, I encountered three more reddish egrets and was out photographing egrets again.

A reddish egret spreads his wings as he attempts to catch fish at Merritt Island.

A REDDISH EGRET SPREADS HIS WINGS IN ATTEMPTS TO CATCH FISH.

Vertical reflection of a reddish egret at Merritt Island

REDDISH EGRET REFLECTION

Again I drove on begrudgingly in search of the spoonbills only to come upon several more reddish egrets as well as large amounts of snowy egrets.

I can’t begin to tell you how many great photography opportunities I had to pass up to make it to the spoonbills before the light became too harsh.

Reddish Egret runs around a pond fishing.

FISHING TIME FOR A REDDISH EGRET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosy Encounters:

At the rate I was going, I wondered if I would ever make it to the prime spots for the spoonbills. After several more stops, I located the spoonbills. Upon seeing them, I was struck by their beauty. No matter how many times I see roseate spoonbills, I alway have this reaction to seeing them. Especially when their  plumage is that vibrant deep pink and rose color. 

Initially, one flock of spoonbills were out in the open, while two closer flocks were gathered in the mangrove vegetation.  The open flock were far enough away that I needed to photograph with a  1.4 extender on my 500mm lens.  Within a short period of time, a few cooperative spoonbills begin to feed closer to the road and before I knew it, the extended and the 500 lens were packed away.  My 100-400mm lens were now perfect and allowed me to follow the birds with easy as they pranced around the pond.

A flock of roseate spoonbills wades in a Merritt Island pond.

A FLOCK OF PINK

A roseate spoonbill in beautiful breeding plumage fishes in a pond off Black Point Drive at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

GETTING UP CLOSE WITH ROSY

 

Other Bird Encounters:

Tricolored Herons were also feeding in ponds close to the road along with a large number of snowy egrets.

TRICOLORED HERON SPREADING HIS WINGS TO CATCH FISH.

TRICOLORED HERON SPREADING HIS WINGS TO CATCH FISH.

As I drove to the final portions of Black Point Drive, I came upon several  black necked stilts and numerous green herons.

BLACK NECKED STILT

BLACK NECKED STILT

If you live in or happen to be in the Central Florida area, consider a June visit to this wonderful birding treasure.

 Mr. Rosy says Goodbye for now

Roseate Spoonbill in a pond

ROSEATE SPOONBILL COLORS

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