Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | January 6, 2012

Birding Florida’s Space Coast



An Afternoon Along Black Point Wildlife Drive


One of the pleasures of visiting the Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral area in Florida in winter is to go birding and see many species of local birds and those that come here for the climate.  All along the Indian River, Banana River, Sykes Creek, the coastal beaches and Merritt Island are parks, where one can stop, relax and look for unusual avian species. 


Probably the best area is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses most of the northern end of Merritt Island.  Although this refuge contains the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force base, which are off limits to casual birders, a great portion of the northern extent of this preserve is open to the public.  This area, which is laced with a variety of access trails, is across the Indian River bridge from Titusville.  All habitats north of the Max Brewer Memorial Parkway and Florida Hwy 402, from Indian River to the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, are available to enjoy bird watching. 

The most exciting and productive of these trails is the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile, well developed and maintained automobile road, with pull-offs and parking areas placed at strategic locations.  Off the parking areas are hiking trails of various length.  Lookouts, where one can view activity on isolated ponds and streams, are provided along some trails. 


The road passes through and along palm hammocks, salt marshes, black mangrove swamps, grass and brush meadows, and open-water estuarine and freshwater ponds and streams.  For a nominal fee, bird watchers can spend the entire day exploring the bird habitats along this wildlife drive.  Though the posted speed limit is 15 mph, the average is about 7 mph.  And, with the many stops to observe and photograph bird, the drive takes a minimum of two hours.


Marian and I spent two afternoons along the Black Point Drive observing and photographing birds.  In addition to the pictures of birds I posted, we saw white pelicans, brown pelicans, white ibis, snowy egrets, American egrets, a pair of lesser scaups, wood storks, ospreys, royal terns, herring gulls, ringed-bill gulls, laughing gulls, Bonaparte’s gulls, common gallinules, boat-tailed grackles, a sora, belted kingfisher, scrub jays, palm warblers, yellow-rumps, seaside sparrows, black vultures, turkey vultures, sanderlings, a couple of alligators, and a medium-sized furry mammal that scooted across the road too fast to be identified.  Of greatest abundance were the American coots; there were hundreds of them.  Marian said that they reminded her of the wildebeests on the African grasslands. 




























If you find my photos interesting, please let me know what you think of them.   Also please click on “My Books” above and check out the book titled Chasing Wings to read about my other bird watching adventures.   

© Richard Modlin 2012





  1. Fantastic pictures, Richard.

  2. Some genuinely quality weblog posts on this site, saved to fav.

  3. Thanks for sharing your pictures!

  4. Love all your pictures!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Looks like birding has been pretty good. Can’t wait till sring and they start coming up north. Push some warmer weather our way.

  6. Hey Richard
    We see you are continuing your travels. Good for you both! On to Florida and birding like no where else!
    We are settled in PR and loving it. 80-84 every day with plenty of good wine and sunshine. Just finished a party tonite with just 4 of us here. Good friends like you whom we met here a couple years ago. They are actually moving to Jacksonville in late Feb. so we will see them next spring on our drive back from Tucson.
    Now speaking of Tucson, when are we to pick you up at the airport??
    Looking forward to seeing you both soon and sharing some more good times.
    Pierre and Pat

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