Red and Redstart

This morning I went to the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary, which is a property adjacent to the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. In fact, the first place I stopped was technically in Turkey Creek, but on the opposite side of the creek than I normally visit.

Far side of the creek than I am usually on.

Apart from a lot of leaping fish in the creek (I think that happens more on overcast mornings, like today), there wasn’t too much going on. The trails are for mountain bikes, and I did see a few riders on the trail. I did get a good glimpse of a warbler, but positive ID was tough. A lot of these birds are in the midst of getting their breeding plumage, so there’s generally a wild mix of colors and patterns that most field guides just have to skip over. My best guess would be a Magnolia Warbler, based on the wing pattern and the emerging black about the throat.

I did hear a few White-eyed Vireos, but did not get any visuals (and of course, the hordes of Northern Cardinals were in evidence). White-eyed Vireos seem to be very plentiful this year.

Bike trail at Turkey Creek in the morning gloom.

With not much going on, I drove the short distance to one of the trailheads for the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary. The Sanctuary and surrounding property are great to have as conservation land, but it comes with a little bitterness. Originally, the Sanctuary was to help with the local Florida Scrub Jay populations; however, with the rise of the adjacent residential developments and population increase in and around Palm Bay, the necessary operations (i.e., FIRE) to keep the scrub in a state that the Jays would thrive in were halted. Much of the property has grown over and isn’t suitable for Florida Scrub Jay habitat. There is a good variety of habitat, though, including some gorgeous open grassland areas.

Some of the diverse landscape types in the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary.

One persistent Northern Cardinal did present himself well enough for some decent photographs.

I give cardinals a bit of rough time in this blog, but they are pretty.

Here he was listening to his mate, who was gathering nesting materials nearby. In all honesty, the red of male Northern Cardinals is stunning.

While setting up the shots of this guy, I was pleasantly surprised by a non-stop flutter of black and orange. An American Redstart! He was actively foraging with his mate. These birds do NOT sit still very often. Here’s the only decent shot I got of him. You can see a bit of the characteristic wing and tail drooping of the species. They flutter down and around like falling leaves, which is pretty neat.

He stood still just long enough to get this.

Other than a few more ear-only catches (White-eyed Vireos) I got some good binocular views of a dark grey-ish bird with a faint black necklace of streaks that I can’t identify. I’ve seen them before, and cannot figure out what they are. The day was heating up, the sun came out and I headed out. I did get a quick glimpse (finally!) of a Carolina Wren in some thick palm scrub.

The trails at the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary are very well kept

Not the most prolific outing, but it was nice and I had fun – which is what birding is all about!

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