Sunday, March 13th, was the fullest day of my visit, with a very early start so that we could reach the Orlando Wetlands Park just north of the little town of Christmas in time for sunrise. Then we took the 2.5 mile hike around the marshes, and the numbers of birds was amazing (while another cold night meant the gators stayed underwater until around the time we were leaving). I got to see my first Sandhill Crane in the wild (and stupidly forgot to take photos!) as well as lots of other familiar faces, like American Coots, both types of gallinules, two types of ibises, very loud limpkins, boatloads of assorted herons, blue-winged teal, and also my very first Black-crowned Night Heron!
From there we drove to the Titusville Marina, where we hoped to see wild manatees as they'd been there a few days earlier. And they were there, but too far off for good photos, also got to see how the water flattened over one as it swam along the edge of the Indian River, a huge estuary area. Another treat was seeing Wood Storks there, and a single wild dolphin (likely bottlenose) fishing in the marina area for a little while before going back out to the estuary.
After that we crossed the bridge to the Canaveral National Seashore, and did some drives and walks in that area. Not as much as hoped for with birding, because the wild marshes we drove through were almost completely dried up by the drought, so a lot of the birds and gators had gone elsewhere. However, once we got closer to the ocean, we did see lots of gators in the warm afternoon hours. Stopped at the Eddy Creek area in hopes of spotting manatee, and I got to see some far-off fast-flying Roseate Spoonbills. Walked across to the ocean side and savored a beautiful stretch of Playalinda Beach, nicely secluded, strewn with shells, and the waves a Caribbean blue to remind me of Puerto Rico. Our final stop was at the Titusville Marina again, but the browsing manatees had not moved any closer during that time.
Just a wonderful day! Trip photos are up now, and you can see them here.
Thanks for looking! I need to remember to bring them along when I come in June, in case we have time to share.
I posted the 'unknown heron' on an LJ bird group today, and the feedback helped me figure out that it was an immature Reddish Egret, so another new species for me. I'll have to tell Diane when I send her my thank-you card.