Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black Point Drive, Part 1

Since I had the Jay Watch luncheon just to the north, I planned to go home via I-95 so I was able to swing through Black Point Drive on Merritt Island hoping to get my latest Nemesis Bird, the Gadwall. This duck is reported nearly every year but I never seem to find them. I had direct sighting locations all week from the locals so chances were good i could get it this time.

Black Point is now charging $5 for a single day visit, so plan accordingly. Yearly passes can be purchased, too. I paid my fee and headed around the familiar curves and soon found a Great Egret where they almost always are just past Stop 1.

Great Egret

Nothing of real interest was at Stop 2 but the American Coot numbers really picked up by Stop 3. The Sun was beginning to drop low in the sky so I had to keep moving if I was to fined the Gadwall.

American Coot

By the time I looked up the road toward Stop 4 I could see that there must be something good ahead. Cars were parked all along the shoulder. I arrived in the area and raised my binoculars. Just next to the American Wigeons was my target. Gadwall!


The drake and 2 hens feed alone but near the Wigeons. Interesting shape to their heads.


Not bad. Target bird checked off and the ponds were full of birds. Most I have seen in years. Thousands of Coots, many species of ducks, and in the back of the pond White Pelicans gulped down fish under the watchful eyes of Roseate Spoonbills.

White Pelican

Several Coots were diving near the side of the road when, suddenly, a Ruddy Duck popped up between them. Haven't seen a lot of them around this season.

Ruddy Duck

As I was photographing the Ruddy Duck i saw a bright flash to my right. A Horned Grebe! Blink and you would miss it, and I could only manage a blurry shot before it dove back underwater over and over.

Horned Grebe

A bit farther down the drive, a Reddish Egret posed in the waning light.

Reddish Egret

Another species at Stop 4 was a large number of Northern Shoveler.

Northern Shoveler

The plainer females and juveniles are fun to watch but seeing the males in bright plumage is striking.

Northern Shoveler

Finally making my way past Stop 4 I glanced to my left and saw some other species in between the mangroves. Northern Pintails and Mottled Ducks rested apart from the bustling pond.

Northern Pintail and Mottled Duck

I decided to hurry around the rest of the loop and circle back around to see if the Gadwall would move even closer to shore before the light disappeared. Up in the larger impoundments the Coot numbers were staggering. In one stretch a large raft of them were streaming around the mangroves in a huge line before dispersing into the open water. I didn't even try to count them.

American Coot

Part 2 will highlight the rest of my findings but for now, I have to hurry back to the entrance!

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