Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | February 4, 2014

Birding St. Mark’s NWR, St. Mark’s County, FL

About eight miles east of The Inn at Wildwood on Hwy 98 in Crawfordville, Florida where we stayed, a bridge crosses the St. Mark’s River. Roughly 100 yards beyond the bridge, Lighthouse Road angles off to the south. Several miles down, this road enters the 68,000-acre St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. Lighthouse Road continues through the refuge and ends at the historic St. Marks Lighthouse.

Visitors Center Pond

Visitors Center Pond

St. Mark's Lighthouse.

St. Mark’s Lighthouse.

Saltmarsh

Salt Marsh

Lighthouse Pool

Lighthouse Pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To and from the visitors’ center, Lighthouse Road is completely asphalted.  It winds for about seven miles toward the Gulf of Mexico, past a variety of coastal habitats where many species of migratory upland and coastal birds over winter.  Immediately upon turning off Hwy 98, Lighthouse Road enters a pine-palmetto forest. This continues to the visitors’ center. A half-mile beyond the center, the road circles around the east side of East River Pond. Once it crosses over the connection between East River Pond and Stony Bayou Pool 1, the road runs adjacent to watery habitats—pools, ditches, swamps, palm-covered hummocks, salt marshes, and dry stretches that support Spanish moss covered oaks.  All along, next to road, viewing points—some with platforms, towers, and other overlooks—are easily accessible.  Several trailheads that allow deeper intrusion along dikes begin at the road. One short trail that encircles the lighthouse pool begins at the parking lot at the end of the road. This is the southern most pool before entering the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Red-breasted merganser

Red-breasted merganser

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

Redhead

Redhead

Female Bufflehead

Female Bufflehead

Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe

Dunlins

Dunlins

Song Sparrow in Parking Lot

Song Sparrow in Parking Lot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marian and I visited the lighthouse pool and the adjacent coastline on Saturday the 25th of January 2014 with other members of the Alabama Ornithological Society. A variety of ducks, anhinga, grebes, moorhens, gallinules, herons, egrets, brown and white pelicans, three species of terns, and hundreds of coots were swimming or wading about. Everyone whipped out their binoculars, spotting scopes, and telephoto lenses and focuses on the flocks of shorebirds.

 

Great egret

Great egret

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American avocet feeding

American avocet feeding

American avocet

American avocet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I almost never used a tripod to photograph with my 500 mm telephoto—though most times my photos looked okay, they did show minuscule vibration flaws—the pool provided a great opportunity to try out my newest purchase, a lightweight tripod. Marian convinced me to buy one. So I broke down and did a week before we came on this trip. Wow! What an improvement. Let me know if you enjoy the photos I’ve posted.

Though it was an overcast day, St. Mark’s was worth the trip. Besides the ducks and shorebirds, the dry areas had a treasure trove of sparrows, warblers, wrens, and raptors, including bald eagles. We spent about four hours exploring and photographing in this refuge.

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 © Copyright, Richard Modlin 2014

For other interesting bird watching area in the USA, Caribbean, Europe and Africa, please click on “My Books” above and check out my book Chasing Wings—Available from Amazon.com.


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