Black Point Wildlife Drive Merritt Island NWR Part 1


Black Point Wildlife Drive
Merritt Island NWR

One of the best places in Florida to see wintering wildfowl

 

 

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Black Point Wildlife Drive

Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Drive is one of the richest--and easiest--wildlife viewing drives anywhere in Florida.

So it's fitting that tourists who migrate to Florida every winter are called "snowbirds," since they're imitating the pattern established for millions of years by wintering waterfowl.

But Titusville, east of Orlando, and at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is the last place I expect to see snowbirds just before before Christmas. Yet the first 3 cars to pass me on the Black Point Wildlife Drive are all from the far north.

One is from Pennsylvania, another from Montana but the most surprising is the SUV from Quebec. Obviously it's just arrived because it's changed from blue to off-white, coated with the salt used to melt road ice.

I didn't realize the 7-mile dirt/paved road through salt marshland had beome internationally famous. Ironically, many of the birds these northerners are likely to see are from their own part of the world.

To escape the freezing temperatures, ducks, marsh birds, songbirds and many others fly here from as far away as Alaska, a journey of 6,000 miles .

Besides being a winter sanctuary, the refuge's system of shallow water impoundments house resident egrets, herons, roseate spoonbills, wood storks and even bald eagles.

When conditions are right, Merritt Island is one of the best birding areas in the Southeast and the wildlife drive the best way to access it.

Some of the best places to look for birds and alligators are pinpointed in an excellent guide/leaflet that's supposed to be available at an unmanned kiosk at the start of the drive.

Unfortunately, the leaflets aren't always there, and that's too bad because they're essential for understanding the history and purpose of the impoundment system.

Part 2 Black Point Wildlife Drive

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