Black Point Wildlife Drive
Merritt Island - Part 2
One of the best winter wildfowl areas
Black Point Wildlife Drive Part 2
Continuing on the Black Point Wildlife Drive, I watch other vehicles pass me on the narrow, one-way road and wonder how
much these other people are really seeing. They're driving much too
fast, almost streaking by animals they've come so far
I'm sure they didn't see the armadillo creeping across the mangrove
roots back near the entrance.
I almost missed it and my van was creeping along at about 10mph. And they
couldn't have spotted the snowy egret almost obscured by grass at the
edge of a canal.
The snowy looked almost comical, its beautiful white feathers wind-swept
to one side as it stood shoulder-hunched with a very ruffled, almost
I sometimes think the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet give unrealistic
expectations about what we'll see, that something dramatic is guaranteed
to occur if we drive fast to find it.
Look for birds everywhere beside the road but especially at the culverts where the water is flowing. Herons, egrets and wood storks sometimes
line the canals around the culverts and wait for minnows and other food
to be delivered by the moving water.
Perhaps the most reliable stop for locating wildlife is the parking area near
the Allan D. Cruickshank Memorial Trail, a 5-mile path through the
marsh with an observation tower near the parking lot.
You'll be very unlucky if you don't see at least one alligator in the
canal beside the parking lot. Gators favor the small mangrove islands, stretching out over the roots to sun themselves. The culverts at the
parking lot are popular fast food outlets for great blue herons and
great egrets. All along the drive the wildlife seems little bothered by traffic.
if you get out of your vehicle , birds often paddle away or fly off.
If you drive next to them, roll down your window to take pictures, they
normally pose willingly, ignoring you.
Sunrise is when wildlife most actively feeds. Traffic also is at its lowest
then. By 10 o'clock on weekends, there can be a parade of vehicles,
something the critters definitely don't appreciate.
If You Go
The Black Point Wildlife Drive at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
is reached by taking State Road 406 from Titusville . Follow the road
across a bridge and continue on it when it turns left. The wildlife
drive, clearly marked with a large sign, will soon appear on the left.
The road veering to the right at the crossroads is State Road 402,
which leads to the refuge headquarters.
binoculars and a camera with a good telephoto lens, 300mm and larger.
If you go early, take a small cooler with drinks and snacks. There are
no stores once you leave Titusville.
can speed through the refuge in as little as 20 minutes. Count on at
least 1.5 hours or more to do it right. And once you complete the circuit of the Merritt Island Wildlife Drive,
drive it again.
You may be surprised how different it is the second time around; sometimes
for the better, perhaps for the worse if it's late and crowded. No two
drives are ever alike, which makes the experience so appealing.
For more information, contact refuge headquarters at 321/867-0667. Website
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Drive Part 1
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