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Fun on Biolab Road

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A young roseate spoonbill greeted us as we turned onto Biolab Road.  What an alluring name for a road!


                                This is what a black vulture does when it's really, really windy.

I like how he's using his tail as a brake, and he's clinging for all he's worth to the snag. Vulture feet are not strong in the clutching department, which is why they have to carry prey in their beaks.


Black vultures are a Florida fixture, and they call southwest Ohio their year-round home, but they're still pretty unusual to see in southeast Ohio, where we live. I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before they completely colonize my area. We have roadkill aplenty. You could live on roadkill around here, if you wanted to. Which I do not.

Bill had told me that Biolab Road was a must-see, and we were not disappointed. Phoebe said it led to the beach, and that seemed like a meet adventure for a mom and two cubs...drive down the road and wind up on Cape Canaveral's beach. We drove and drove, rolling slowly along, taking in the incredible wildlife along the way.


The kids loved the reddish egret, especially when I told them that birders call it the "drunken clown" for the way it staggers about in the shallows, following the lightning-fast movement of schools of fish which only it can see.


It throws out its wings for balance, making a spectacle of itself. To someone who doesn't know that it's fishing, it looks crazy, possessed, drunk.

And then it plunges its rapier bill straight down into the water to stab at little fishies.


 A far more placid feeding style distinguishes the roseate spoonbill. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to show this bird to my babies.


The spoonbills are more filter feeders, running that great appendage through the silt and snapping closed on whatever lives within.


They swing their great heads side to side, slowly sweeping through the shallows. 


They make pass after pass in an unconsciously lovely ballet.


Earlier in the day, we'd lucked upon a preening group of spoonbills along Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island NWR.  I quickly deployed the Leica scope and camera to digiscope their sickly green heads, ruby eyes and glorious crimson shoulders.


Could there be a much more convincing link between the dinosaurs and today's birds?


It was not much of a stretch to imagine duck-billed dinosaurs snapping to attention at the approach of a pack of Deinonychus, especially for Liam.


So long did we watch and admire the wading birds and snoozing gators that it finally became clear that we would never reach the beach before dark



and we decided that that was fine with us, because what could be better than this pastel sunset, with us all breathing the salt air, appreciating the heartbreakingly beautiful color. Color has been gone from our lives for months and months. We decided that all our color had drained down into Florida. We're very anxious to get it back, as rainy day follows rainy day and the crocuses struggle to bloom.


Phoebe snapped me in pursuit of egrets

and I snapped her in pursuit of sunsets


and it was all dreamily beautiful. We hated to see that sun sink, but it was kind enough to go behind some cutout palm trees, delighting Liam who thought it was time for the pterodactyl to swoop through, cackling, at any moment.


A snowy egret punched a white hole in the inky marsh as we said goodbye to another Florida day.


All landscape and car interior photos taken with  my Canon G-12, chunky little point and shoot genius box.

6 comments:

There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home.

Crocuses struggle to bloom? Is that where you're at already? Count your blessings! Snow and ice prevail in these parts. Winter desperation intense. Just had my FOS Ring-billed Gull. This a welcome harbinger that winter may not last forever. Red-winged Blackbirds perhaps a week away yet...

Nick, from Ottawa

Posted by Anonymous March 8, 2011 at 2:47 PM

I'm working near High Island, TX where roseate spoonbills are gathering to start breeding in the rookery at Smith Woods. There are around 200 of them now, many coming into full breeding plumage with the orange around the red eye, the blue stripe on the neck and the outrageous orange and yellow butts on the pink bird with the red patch on the wing.

And they share the rookery with hundreds of great and snowy egrets and scores of tricolored herons and black-crowned night herons. And to add a little black counterpoint, hundreds of neotropical cormorants are also gathering there.

I have to go there at least once a week to get my fix. I'll volunteer there this Saturday and hopefully, will soon have pictures on my blog.

There is just nothing like a roseate spoonbill except for hundreds of them.

That first pic gave me a laugh. My hubby & I drove Biolab Road the opposite way on Feb. 19th during our visit, and the last bird we saw on the way out was one Spoonbill on that same railing! Coincidence? :)

Please tell me you made it to the Ridge and saw the Scrub Jays? Very cool, indeed!

Kate in Smithville

What Raymond said.

(The captcha word is "unchness." That must mean something.)

I manage to get over to Merritt Island 3 or 4 times a year and wish to go a lot more...love the place..tried Gator Creek Rd yet? I am on the oposite side of Fl, much different scenery here..no mangroves, no spoonbills..

Posted by Shirley March 11, 2011 at 5:18 AM
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