Friday, January 16, 2015

Birding at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

We enjoy visiting the National Wildlife Refuges and St. Marks is one of our favorites.

St. Marks NWR is quite large with several parcels located in the area but the main unit is located about 20 miles from our Sopchoppy campsite.  This spot starts with a very nice visitor center followed by 7 miles of road winding past ponds and forest and ending at a lighthouse on Apalachee Bay.

This place never disappoints and this trip was no exception.  We spent 2 full days out here in cloudy, chilly (for Florida) temps making our way up and down the road and saw lots of good stuff.

We saw about every kind of heron and egret possible for the area.

Great Blue Heron and White Ibis

The ponds near the lighthouse are a great spot for ducks and there was quite a variety to be seen.

Ring-Necked Duck


Northern Shoveler

We saw plenty of raptors like Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Northern Harriers and Red Shouldered Hawks. We even saw a pair of Bald Eagles with one sitting on a nest. Look hard - she's in there! 

Bald Eagle on Nest

There were a few gators out too, including one ‘whopper’.

Big Daddy

Smiling Joe

We didn’t see anything new to add to our lifelist, though we had heard that a Vermillion Flycatcher had been spotted on the refuge recently.  This bird is more commonly seen in southern Arizona and in Mexico.  We inquired about it at the visitor center and was given the location it was seen a few times, but we weren’t able to get a glimpse of it.

Later on at one of the other St. Marks NWR units closer to Sopchoppy, we were able to get a good but brief look at a bobcat!

St. Marks Bobcat

Yep, we love the National Wildlife Refuges!


  1. I didn't realize that you've been posting -- so I'm way behind in reading your blog. I'm loving what I'm reading, and your photos are fantastic. That redhead photo is absolutely gorgeous! We have wonderful memories of birding at St. Mark's with you guys last winter. Lucky you to see a bobcat, and you even got a good photo!

  2. Thanks for checking in, Laurel. Sorry about my delayed answer...
    We were so fortunate to be at the bird banding at Ft. Morgan last year. We just found out that it will not longer continue since Bob Sargeant passed. So glad to have been there with you and Eric, Ken and Trisha, and Donna and Marshall.
    Could not believe our luck with the Bobcat!