More than 20 years ago my friend Lisa, an avid bird lover took me to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This extraordinary 140 thousand acre sanctuary is an incredible retreat from the hustle and bustle of cars, computers and even cell phones, if you leave them in the car.
My mother-in-law Mary, Lisa and I, recently spent a wonderful morning at the MINWF. Lisa had this to say about our adventure, “The Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful escape. It’s natural, original Florida with its flora and fauna. The winter is a great time to see some amazing migratory birds. My absolute favorite are the white Pelicans which are not commonly seen. You can also see Roseate spoonbills which are beautiful with their pink feathers. There are also glossy ibis, white ibis, a variety of heron and egret, ducks and other birds. On my last visit, we saw two otters walk across the path in front of us and head to the water where we watched them swimming around for a while. Alligators can be seen as well as the occasional snake. You can take the drive but you can also stop and take a walk along a path to a tower to look out over the land, seeing for miles around. The Visitor Center is also recommended. The rangers there provide helpful information and they have a nice display of information, photos and animals on display. There are also tours and seminars offered.”
- Established August 28,1963
- 140,000 acres
- Seven distinct types of habitat
- 15 Federally listed Threatened or Endangered Species
- More than 500 species of wildlife
- More than 1,000 species of plants
Lisa and I especially enjoy hiking the 5 mile loop at Black Point Wild Life Drive. A self-guiding brochure (available near the drive entrance) provides information on things to look for. One to two hours after sunrise and one to two hours before sunset are typically the best times to view wildlife actively feeding in the impoundments. Driving time is approximately 40 minutes.
Lisa, mother and I are planning a bird tour, it’s the height of the season and we hope to see a flock of Lisa’s favorites, the White Pelicans. Who knows we might even get to see the otters scampering across the road again. None the less, we know nature will be enjoyed, along with relishing serenity in the peace and quiet. We invite you to explore the beauty and wonder of the Merritt Island National Wild Life Refuge. Who knows, you might see the otters too!