On my hikes and birding excursions I have found it helpful to have someone else along who notices the things I don't. An extra pair of eyes and ears can locate birds that I've missed. It's also really hard to look everywhere all the time, which is why I think it's important to pick certain species you'd like to see before you go out. I told my mom on this trip what I wanted to see (rails) and where to look for them, and she did, and found them!
So it's little wonder that as we walked along the path to the observation deck from the Ducks Unlimited parking area at the Black Pond Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island, that she paid little attention to the small brown bird that was hopping along the trail ahead of us. I saw it and recognized it as an uncommon (to me) bird so I stopped to take some photos. My mom kept walking, even after seeing me shooting. I had to reach out and grab her--she was apparently unimpressed.
|Oh dear, what are you? Pink legs and lower mandible, white eyebrow, distinct eyeline and mustache....|
I was not sure what I was photographing, but the bird was very agreeable and let me get quite close--within six feet. I knew what it wasn't, but not what it was.
|Dark but thin streaking on breast and sides.....|
I got shots from all angles.
I had to look it up in Sibley's when I got home to find out it was a....
|Weak median crown strip....|
...a Savannah sparrow! These birds usually have a yellow supraloral, the area between the eye and beak. But plumage is highly variable with this species and I feel confident with all the other identifying marks that this is a correct ID. It's fun, the detective work, but what is most rewarding for me is the opportunity to get so close to these beautiful creatures.
Next, and last Florida post: While pelicans and sunset over Merritt Island NWR.