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Merrit Island Birding

SW Pennsylvania
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Merrit Island Birding

I am spending the first week of March in Orlando and am planning to do some serious bird and wildlife photography in Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge. I've never been there. Tips on what to expect, locations and times for this time of year would be appreciated. I am figuring on leaving early enough to get there at first light, or earlier. Thanks!

4 replies to this topic
Cocoa Beach, Florida
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1. Re: Merrit Island Birding

Although I'm not specifically into nature photography, it's hard to go to the Merritt Island NWR without shooting some of those images. There are always alligators and abundant birds about -- there are over 300 species of birds alone. Look at …usgs.gov/resource/…merritt.htm for a list of birds that have been identified there.

It will take about an hour from Orlando via the SR 528 and 407 to downtown Titusville, and then across the Max Brewer Causeway to the main gate. I thinks the entry fee is still $5, which also allows admission to the adjacent Canaveral National Seashore. It is open from sunup to sundown.

There is a visitor center, but it won't be open until later. The easiest place to start is the Black Point nature drive, which has several walking trails off of it. There are some other interesting areas, but I am not familiar enough with the trails to be able to adequately describe them; one of the rangers can mark some locations on a map for you.

Also see www.fws.gov/merrittisland/Birders.html .

SW Pennsylvania
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2. Re: Merrit Island Birding

Thanks, that is a good start. Is there a gate to prevent early admission?

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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3. Re: Merrit Island Birding

Yes, there is a gate on the Black Point Drive entry. It is operated by a photocell sensor that opens it at, or shortly after, sunrise.

I've never tried to get in that early, but maybe there is a special permit for entry just before sunrise, when you might have enough light for some shots with a fast, long lens or a flash extender. The rangers probably don't want people around in complete darkness.

You could try the ranger office on Monday. The number is (321) 861-0667.

SW Pennsylvania
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4. Re: Merrit Island Birding

Thank you, I will try that.

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