Sunday, March 30, 2014

Titusville - We explore the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Too numerous to mention - flowers everywhere
When NASA  bought Merritt Island for their launch operations, there was a lot of empty land left over that they did not need - but wanted as a buffer zone to their launch pads. Out of that happenstance was born the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. It's a major stopover from migratory birds along the Atlantic flyway. Initially, the biggest crop was mosquitoes, 2 billion an acre! The first thing they did was install mosquito control dikes to beat down the worst of the insects and then tailored several of the habitats to accommodate the widest variety of wildlife possible.

Another example, growing wild in the forest
Over the years they've installed many walkways through the woods and marshes and provided areas for research on native species. It is a real treasure for central Florida and one we always try to see on our ways north and south.

The wildlife was on parade for us
Today we visited the revamped the Visitors' Center and the associated trail. To me it's always been magical walking through the dense woods on a trail with wilderness all around me. It's like you're in an enchanted forest. With today's temperatures of low 70's with blue skies and no rain, it was just perfect.

A typical walk through the forest, just beautiful
Further down the road was the Oak Hammock trail (a hammock is a small area that raised 1 to 2 feet above the surrounding marsh, just enough to dry out for hardwoods). After that was a trip along the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a drive for your car to see the migratory birds.

You had to look up to enjoy the view
It is all breathtakingly beautiful. I took a few photos I hope you'll enjoy but they don't do justice to the experience of being there. We'll continue here until Wednesday when we plan on leaving for Rockhouse Creek, an anchorage north of here. We now hope to meet up with our friends at St Augustine (they originally planned on meeting us at Titusville).