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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is well-known for wildlife photography. Black Point Wildlife Drive allows you to stay in the air-conditioning and see lots of birds. Canaveral National Seashore is beautiful. My favorite time of year to go is during the winter, when the refuge is covered in migrant ducks, pelicans, and other birds.

Photography advice: Take your longest lens. Windy days tend to be less birdy. Be aware that hunting is allowed on parts of the refuge.

Visit the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge website.


Black-necked Stilts Nesting at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Black-necked Stilts Nesting at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - May 2015

The Black-necked Stilt nursery is active at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I saw lots of egg-turning and a spectacular sunsetRead More


Lifer Clapper Rail at Merritt Island NWR

Lifer Clapper Rail at Merritt Island NWR - January 2015

I photographed my lifer Clapper Rail at Merritt Island NWR last weekend, along with Sora and Long-tailed Duck, and an awesome sunset!Read More


Good Birds, Bad Light at Merritt Island NWR

Good Birds, Bad Light at Merritt Island NWR - January 2015

The light was bad but the birds were good this weekend at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Wigeons and loons were close!Read More


Bright and Yellow

Bright and Yellow - December 2012

My favorite wintertime bird is the goldfinch. They spend lots of time at our backyard feeder, and our cats spend a lot of time watching them! When I go outside to refill the feeder, I think they have a watchbird monitoring my activity. As soon as I step away, I hear a chorus of sweet "potato chip!" calls as the watchbird calls in the rest of the flock. I photographed …Read More


Enjoying the Sunshine

Enjoying the Sunshine - December 2012

On the day that Michael and I hiked out Shiloh Marsh Road to photograph the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, we came across this Turkey Vulture sunning himself. He seemed to be enjoying the sun very much. He didn't want to move! We had to pass him on the trail, and he would watch us dubiously, then move just a little way up the trail. Silly bird. Why are the pretty birds so …Read More


The MINWR Snow Bunting

The MINWR Snow Bunting - November 2012

On Black Friday I had the opportunity to photograph two rare birds in Florida: the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and the Snow Bunting.  The Snow Bunting lives in the Arctic, breeding in the northernmost parts of Canada.  In the wintertime its range extends down to northern Pennsylvania or Maryland.  But not normally to Florida!  So when this little beauty showed up at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, it attracted lots of photographers. …Read More


A Scissor-Tailed Misadventure

A Scissor-Tailed Misadventure - November 2012

On Black Friday morning I was up early like the rest of the world.  Except most people were waiting in long lines in crowded stores.  I was out in the middle of the swamp with a camera in my hand, photographing the sunrise!  I had a great morning at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with friends Michael Libbe, Donna Faylo, and Mike Fitzgerald. We started the morning on Shiloh Road …Read More


Betcha Can’t Go Just Once!

Betcha Can’t Go Just Once! - January 2012

On December 31 I made yet another trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, this time with Dyeyo. He had never been on Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. We carefully planned to go on a day when it would be sunny with little wind. Then we got there and it was a little windy, and there were not as many birds as my last visits. Go figure. Our goal was for Dyeyo …Read More


Silly Bird, Turn Your Head This Way!!

Silly Bird, Turn Your Head This Way!! - December 2011

After spending a cloudy morning cooped up in the house yesterday, the sun came out and I decided to head to Merritt Island to experiment with afternoon light at the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. It was less windy than the previous day, and the birds were closer to the trail. The afternoon light was incredible! I had to work hard to get good head angles, though — the silly birds kept …Read More


Finally!

Finally! - December 2011

Finally! I got to use The Beast for the first time in almost a month! After hearing friends talk about the great birds at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I went there yesterday. Blackpoint Wildlife Drive was busier than I've ever seen it (both with birds and photographers :)). The birding wasn't spectacular, due to the winds, but I did get to see my first Horned Grebe. He was hanging …Read More


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! - October 2011

I was photographing the sunrise at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge back in September when I noticed this spider.  His web was suspended between branches, and the background was the bright orange reflections of the sunrise in the water.  I deliberately underexposed to bring out the colors in the background and to render the spider as a silhouette.  Then I bracketed for HDR.  Then I kept it waiting for Halloween!  …Read More


Quiet Morning at MINWR

Quiet Morning at MINWR - September 2011

All week long, I've been seeing these amazing sunrises in the east.  The colors have been extraordinary.  Each morning, I've wanted to drive to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and photograph the sunrise over the water.  But instead I had to go to work.  :-p  Funny how work gets in the way of birding and photography! So on my off-Friday, I drove over to MINWR in the pre-dawn hours.  I …Read More


Tiny Stilts and Willets at Merritt Island NWR

Tiny Stilts and Willets at Merritt Island NWR - June 2011

This morning I was off to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) in search of baby Black-Necked Stilts.  I'd seen a very photographable nest there last weekend, and I was hoping to see chicks there today.  At first I was disappointed – the nest was deserted. But I drove around some more and found some little stilts.  Aren't they cute? I found these guys on East Gator Creek.  First I …Read More


Life on Stilts at MINWR

Life on Stilts at MINWR - June 2011

Can you imagine going through life with ridiculously long red legs? It's not often that I devote a Beyond The Backyard blog post exclusively to one bird.  But after spending the morning at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I had a ton of great images of Black-Necked Stilts.  They are all over! I found a nest that was very close to the trail.  When I first arrived, one bird …Read More


Beautiful Morning at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful Morning at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - April 2011

After hearing  time after time about how great the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is, Dyeyo decided that he wanted to go with me and see it.  It was a pretty foggy morning, but the sun burned off the fog just as we arrived at the refuge around 8:30.  The Birdbrains have been saying that the Peacocks Pocket drive has been fairly active, so we headed there first.  We found …Read More


Finally!  We saw our first scrub jay at Merritt Island Wildlife Reserve.

Finally! We saw our first scrub jay at Merritt Island Wildlife Reserve. - December 2009

Rich and I braved the cold winds this morning to go to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.  It's supposed to be very good for birding, but it also made us realize how spoiled we were with the Circle B Bar Reserve. We hiked the Scrub Jay trail.  The winds were very strong and at first we wondered if we'd been crazy to leave our warm beds at the crack of …Read More