By: Pat Coate
We had a great time visiting my parents in Florida for a few days over my husband’s winter break. It was nice to temporarily trade in the heavy coats and boots for the summer wardrobe appropriate for the 70+ degree days (and it was nice to know that the summer wardrobe still fits).
We spent our first afternoon exploring Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge located next to the Kennedy Space Center. It is a birders dream with over 140,000 acres comprising a wide range of habitats including coastal dunes, saltwater marshes and freshwater impoundments. There is a nice visitors center with a friendly staff and miles of wildlife drives and hiking trails. We saw only a small fraction of the refuge including the visitor center, the manatee observation deck and the Bio Lab Road driving trail.
Despite being told by the ranger at the visitor center that birding was slow – between seasons – we saw lots of activity and even picked up several life birds. The life birds were Black Skimmer, Glossy Ibis and Reddish Egret.
Merritt Island NWR must be a truly amazing place during peak seasons and it is an area I would love to get back to some day.