Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seeing Pink!

A pair of pintails greeted me early on my drive.
No, sorry, this post is not about breast cancer awareness although every where I go lately they are swathing some bridge or building in pink this month.  And I do like it.  But the pink I have been seeking for just over a year now is a bird, of course.  The roseate spoonbill to be exact.  In fact, it is the only true pink plumaged bird in North America unless a rogue scarlet ibis happens to stray a little further north than usual and mates with a white ibis somewhere in south Florida or Louisiana.  And I will keep an eye out for that!

But I had heard that there was a population of my sought after treasure in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge so while I am so close I thought I'd go and have a look.  If you are ever in the area I strongly suggest you do the same.  The refuge is on land that was once part of the old Kennedy Space Center.  I had to leave my rv parked at the visitor center and drive my car through the refuge but it was worth the work of unhooking and hooking back up.  I spent most of the day there and would have stayed longer had I not wanted to get on down a bit more south before dark. 
Tri colored Heron is not interested in photography

Snowy egrets having a bad hair day
The wildlife drive is 7 miles long and there is a $5 charge for entering, but it was worth every cent.  And while I saw a lot of birds there and even a couple of gators, there were no roseate spoonbills to be found.  The volunteer at the center had mentioned some sightings near the manatee viewing area so next I went there and enjoyed watching the ungangly aquatics of one manatee in particular who was dragging a tracking buoy.  But still no pink.  And the day was getting late.

Finally I took the Biolab Road which I had been warned was gravel and had a lot of potholes.  The warnings were true.  I was barely able to go over 10-15 mph making the 4 mile stretch seem to go on forever.  Finally, off in the distance, as a cloud of white feathers filled the sky I spied a bit of pink.  Then, around the next corner, there they were.  I finally saw Mr. and Mrs. Spoonbill looking quite rosey and I believe nesting.  Up close they do look a bit ungangly with their large spoon-shaped beaks, but the beautiful pink feathers make up for that all around. 

Mr. and Mrs. Wood stork stand against the wind
Finally, as I neared the end of the road I was able to get a quick picture of the elusive wood stork which is also tricky to find.  So the day was full of great discoveries and even added quite a few birds to my list.  But I'm afraid I didn't leave myself time to visit the astronaut museum.  Oh well, next time.

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