Feb 012021

I have had a bad case of cabin fever for a while now, and since it was too windy to take the boat out yesterday as I had planned, we drove down to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville to see if we could see any of our neighbors of the wild variety. The wildlife refuge is part of the Canaveral National Seashore and is home to more than 50 or more species of animals, from birds to deer, raccoons and armadillos, and even bobcats and alligators.

There is an entry fee of $10 per car, which is waived if you have one of the National Park Passes. At this time, the Visitor Center is closed due to COVID-19, but the beaches are open, as was the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.

We always enjoy meandering along Blackpoint Wildlife Drive, a well-maintained dirt road that makes a seven-mile loop through the refuge. There are many pullouts with interpretive signs where you can stop and check out the wildlife as you make your way slowly around the loop. It being a weekend, there were a lot of other vehicles out there, and I told Terry a lot of them remind me of someone we talked to once who drove to Alaska and back in 31 days, saying they never saw a wild animal on the whole trip, though they did pretty much destroy their motorhome because they were driving so fast. I think our average speed wasn’t more than about seven miles per hour at the most, stopping often to take pictures of animals and let everybody in a hurry get past us.

Parts of the refuge are grasslands, some wetlands, and there are some areas that have a lot of trees, which makes it a perfect home for all the different critters who live here.

Everybody who goes to the refuge wants to see alligators, and there are plenty of them to see. This little guy was the first one we spotted, and maybe twenty yards away, we found a much bigger one.

And then another good-sized one.

While most were on the banks soaking up the sun, we did see one in the water.

I think this was the biggest gator we saw all day.

Terry loves taking pictures of birds, and there sure are a bunch of birds there to take pictures of! Lots and lots of egrets everywhere you look.

And plenty of herons, too.

I think this guy looks like too many of us who have been cooped up in the house for so long and haven’t had a chance to go to the barber of the beauty shop.

In some areas, there were huge flocks of birds on the water. What you see here is maybe ten percent of just one of the large flocks out there.

There were also lots of ducks.

This is a Hooded Mergsanser.

We’re not bird watchers, so I don’t know what this particular wading bird is.

And here are a couple of others that we couldn’t identify. If there are any birdwatchers out there who know what they are, please clue us in.

Terry’s favorite birds are the roseate spoonbill’s, and this one was interesting because he kept his bill in the water and swept it back and forth from side to side, coming up every so often with a small fish to eat and then going back for more.

By the time we got home, I think Terry had taken something like 137 pictures, and it was hard to decide which ones to use here. I hope you enjoyed getting to know some of our wild neighbors.

Congratulations Deb Myers, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Camp Timber View by my friend Jason Deas. This children’s mystery about two best friends at an amazing summer at camp is a rollercoaster of fun, suspense, and escape that the youngsters in your family will love. We had 33 entries this time around. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – The butcher backed into the meatgrinder and got a little behind in his work.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  6 Responses to “Visiting The Neighbors”

  1. The wading bird you couldn’t identify looks to be a reddish egret. They are entertaining to watch when they are foraging because they hop around flapping their wings like they’ve just finished a fifth of bourbon.

  2. The ducks are purple galinules, the others are reddish egret in mating plumage and anhinga…female and male of that one.

  3. Were you able to see any Manatee by the small Dam. It is another place we’ve seen them at the viewing platform.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your neighbours.

    It’s about time.

  4. Interesting that we have similar birds and gators ( hard to find but here) in the Rio Grande Valley in TX. Love the colors of the spoonbills.

  5. Thanks for sharing your pictures, we always look forward to you daily blog, please keep them coming.

  6. I love that little drive even better than the beach. Been there several times. I sorta envy you.

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