Sunday, April 12, 2020

Merritt Island NWR - Florida

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is on Merritt Island, just off Florida's Atlantic Coast. It covers 140,000 acres, but much of it is inaccessible because it includes non-public portions of NASA's Kennedy Space Center. To the north it abuts the Canaveral National Seashore, part of Cape Canaveral and separated from Merritt Island by the Mosquito Lagoon. It also includes a portion of the Indian River. 
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - Maplets
I have been there four or five times and one of the best parts of the Refuge is the 3.5 mile, one-way, Black Point Wildlife Drive. That is where I've spent the majority of my time. It includes a number of different habitats and a wide variety of wildlife. Sometimes you can get quite close to the wildlife, but often, particularly for ducks, they are quite a ways away. 
Another place I've stopped several times is the Haulover Canal, a connecting link between the Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River. There is a manatee observation point there, but I haven't seen a manatee there. 

A flight of snowy egrets I saw flying over the Haulover Canal.
A pelican flying over the Haulover Canal.
A bottle-nose dolphin swimming in the Haulover Canal. 
I follow with photos of many of the animals, mostly birds, I've seen there. 
A hooded merganser, the only time I've seen one.
Northern pintails, female and male. 
A blue-winged teal.
A northern shoveler
Glossy ibis. I've seen them elsewhere, but I've seen more here and gotten closer here.
Glossy ibis - the colors on this bird are ridiculous. 
American white ibis. Also seen other places, but here they are in a variety of habitats.
I love the contrast of the white ibis on the dark mudflats. 
An immature white ibis.
Little blue herons.
Little blue heron
Little blue heron
Great blue heron
Snowy egret and tri-colored heron.
Tri-colored heron
Tri-colored heron
Tri-colored heron
Red egret - the only one I've seen there.
Snowy egret
Great egret
Great egret
Forster's terns - the two on the right. The only ones I've ever seen. 
Merritt Island is the best place to see roseate spoonbills, one of my favorite birds. The colors are crazy.
Roseate spoonbill coming in for a landing. Looks like a goofy angel.
Another landing shot. How can something be so ugly and so beautiful at the same time. 
Back shot of a spoonbill. Look at those colors!
Greater yellowlegs
Young wood stork
Large alligator resting on an island.
Raccoon, the only one I've seen in the wild (not surrounded by homes).
An armadillo - technically seen in the Canaveral Natural Seashore, but extremely close to the Refuge. 
A view of some birds along the Black Point Wildlife Drive.
This was my favorite birding spot until I discovered Circle Bar B Reserve near Lakeland, Florida. Circle Bar B Reserve has a higher concentration of animals, greater variety and you can get closer to them. However, for roseate spoonbills, white and glossy ibis, little blue and tricolored herons and white egrets, Merritt Island can't be beat.

1 comment:

  1. That roseate spoonbill is truly spectacular. The variety of birds in these last few posts rivals or tops what we saw in Botswana. Wonderful photos.