Pretty Pine Island

Hey everyone! Enjoy these photos taken from this past weekend’s adventure to Pine Island Conservation Area. It’s been quite a while since I visited this spot, and it did not disappoint. Although not really an island itself (at least not any more), it is on Merritt Island, very near the Kennedy Space Center (the Vertical Assembly Building is easily visible) and the wildlife refuge.

pine-island-north-pond
The north pond does support decent recreational fishing. There were very few alligators than usual.
redwing-blackbird
A male Redwing Blackbird, showing his epaulets. He was singing and displaying for a mate.
painted-bunting
Female Painted Bunting; one of very few green birds native to the US.
tricolored-breeding1
Male Tricolored Heron in full breeding plumage. This individual is showing no throat stripe.
sparrow-mystery-3-4-2017
This Swamp Sparrow almost had me fooled into thinking it was a White-throated Sparrow. 
mockingbird
You can tell it was a chilly morning by how puffy this Northern Mockingbird is.
savannah-sparrow
Savannah Sparrows are fairly common in central Florida, but it’s always a pleasure to see them.
turkey-vulture
A Turkey Vulture using its large wing area to warm up for the day.
yellow-rumped
Yellow-rumped Warblers are still hanging around. Soon they’ll be north, in their breeding range.
tricolored-breeding2
It’s a little hard to see, but this breeding male Tricolored Heron is less blue than the one pictured above, and he has a white stripe from belly to chin.
pine-island-north-pond2
By late morning, it had warmed considerably, but the day was gorgeous.
pine-island-elevated-path
A raised wooden path provides dry access to a wildlife blind (with no wildlife to see today, sorry).

Here’s the link to my eBird list:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34957708

My thanks to Jim Eager for helping me properly identify the really blue Tricolored Heron. I had not realized the variation in breeding males, and had almost committed to calling the bird a Little Blue/Tricolored Hybrid!

Also thanks to the members of the Brdbrains e-mail list for helping me sort out the Swamp Sparrow identification. I tell you what, sparrow ID is HARD, even for experienced birders. If you struggle with these “little brown jobs”, don’t give up and know you’re in good company.

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