Friday, July 3, 2015

The Real Florida: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Salt Marsh
Another worthy escape from fantasy Florida, is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. "Refuge" says it all. Wildlife needs refuge from relentless development. As usual, there is never enough time, so this early spring tour is confined to the Black Point Wildlife drive, a seven mile loop through salt marsh.

If you stop for a photo. The cars behind you line up waiting..

I brake for butterflies..Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
on Tall Thistle(?)

One good Fritillary deserves another..

These last shots taken on foot.
There are parking areas and trails..
The flower is Alba bidens.

A blind along the trail, from which a Roseate Spoonbill was seen. It did not pose..

There were fields of White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba).
Clouds of Tropical Whites (Appias drusilla) enjoyed the bounty.

A beautiful Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The ubiquitous Zebra butterfly (Heliconius charitonius). 
Also on Alba bidens.

So many beautiful butterflies..What more could one ask for? Why beautiful birds of course!!

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).
"Egret" comes from the French 'aigrette'.

Perhaps I can catch dinner?
'Aigrettes' are the breeding plume feathers'
so many birds were killed to obtain.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
All Egrets are herons, but not all Herons are Egrets.

Tricolor Heron (Egretta tricolor)

                                                  Herons come in so many colors!

Green Heron (butorides virescens)
Enjoying the evening.

It is getting late, all hail the lowering sun!

A pair of Boat Tailed Grackles have an evening snack.
(Quiscalus major)

Mom collects nesting materials. It is early Spring.

Time to head home...
                       If we kill off the wild, we are killing a part of our souls ~ Jane Goddall