Saturday, February 14, 2015

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore

Post by Loretta

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a little over two hours from our home base in Bushnell, Florida.  Canaveral National Seashore adjoins Merritt Island and they are both located on the Atlantic coast.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

We packed a picnic lunch and got out the door a little earlier than normal for the long drive.  Once there, we stopped at the Merritt Island Visitor Center to get Henry’s wildlife refuge passport book stamped.  We also wanted to purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass.  Unknown to us, the Visitor Center only takes cash for these passes, and we were a little short since we don’t usually carry much cash.  One of the cashiers advised us we could purchase the pass at the Canaveral National Seashore guard shack, where they would accept a credit card and it was only a couple of miles down the road.  

Canaveral National Seashore

So we went there and made our purchase.  The America the Beautiful annual pass is $80 and will allow entrance into most federal parks and refuges.  Since these are some of our favorite places and we intend to visit all we can this year, it will easily pay for itself.

It was already lunch time, so we continued down the road and found a scenic place to park overlooking the marsh, pulled out our folding chairs, and ate our lunch in the warm sunshine, butterflies flitting all about us.  Aaahhhh….

Great Southern White Butterfly

Suddenly, we saw a flash of pink in the sky!  It was a Roseate Spoonbill! 

After we finished lunch and started heading back toward Merritt Island, we saw more pink on the right side of the road and we hurriedly stopped.  Hurriedly stopped.  Oxymoron?  Several more Roseate Spoonbills!  

Roseate Spoonbill

They were preening and wildly sweeping their heads from side to side as they searched the water for their lunch.
Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill Preening

This was a fantastic start to our day of birding!

Black Point Wildlife Drive is the highlight of Merritt Island.  It twists and winds for seven miles through the marsh and allows for viewing of over 300 species of birds!  Here is a sampling of the birds easily seen in winter - but bring your binoculars!

Female Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Hooded Merganser with his Harem
Reddish Egret
American Avocet


  1. Your photos are absolutely incredible. What are you shooting with? That Roseate Spoonbill preening is my favorite. Those feathers are amazing!

  2. Hi Laurel! I am shooting with the same camera Eric has! This is the camera that Henry found for me on clearance! I love it, too. I am sincerely appreciative of your complement. Coming from you, that means a lot.