The Sentinel

     Day two of the workshop with Jack Rogers takes us to Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve (MINWR), which surrounds the Cape Canaveral launch facility. We begin our day before dawn in order to capture the sunrise over the island. The sky was cloudless and dark blue. Slowly an orange red glow began to spread over the horizon. As the sun peaked over the treeline we click our “doohickies” being careful not to stare directly into the glowing orb of brilliant light as dawn broke the morning sky. Eagles then greeted us as the sun arose.

     No stop on the Great Florida Birding trail is complete without a visit to MINWR. You never know what birds or creatures you will find on the Black Point Wildlife Drive and the other sites. This was my first visit and I was anxious to see my first Florida Scrub-Jay, a native bird found only in Florida’s diminishing scrub oaks. The Cornell Laboratory  of Ornithology describes it thusly  “ A bold and curious bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay can become hand-tame in areas where it comes in contact with people”. Jack placed a perch stick on the ground when we entered Scrub Ridge Trail and held up some acorns. Scrub-Jays always have a sentinel on duty watching for predators. The sentinel bird watching our arrival knew we were not a threat and told the others Scrub-jays to get ready for a treat. As Jack tossed acorns (one of their natural foods) near the perch, we focused in for some incredible close up photographs of these beautiful birds. The Black Point Drive marshes were full of Coots, several Osprey and Eagles, and some wading marsh birds and ducks. A river otter also kept us entertained as it searched the under-brushes for mussels and fish. We practiced birds in flight shooting techniques prior to our departure for the day. By the end of the day even the birds were pooped out I think posing for us. 

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a sentinel watching out for us? I believe in fact that we do. We just often ignore the warnings though. Have you ever felt that sixth sense that perhaps you shouldn’t do something but talk yourself into doing it anyway? Have you ever swerved out of danger driving a car at the last split-second. Something caused you to glance at just the right time. Hmmm…maybe there are guardian angels after all. Be Blessed. Harry

Sunrise over Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve (MINWR)

A river otters flashes a toothy grin as it pauses for a photo op.

A Little Green Heron reflects in the morning light.

A pair of Hooded Merganser ducks provide a brief opportunity before dashing off.

Roseate Spoonbill fly by..

Osprey with "carry out" catfish..

The Sentinel Scrub-Jay watches our arrival and tells the others we are coming with food!

My first Florida Scrub-Jay…it hops down on the perch Jack set up and spots an acorn..

Mine...

Mine...

Mine Mine Mine….how many acorns can a Scrub-Jay hold?

Black Bellied Plover in non breeding colors on a low flight profile..

Black skimmer fly by..

Osprey with fish snack on a limb..

Can't a bird have lunch without all you doohickey folks looking at us?

That's it Jack..I'm pooped..

email: selsorhd@me.com

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