Florida’s Space Coast

2013-04-08 at 14-08-352013-04-13 at 18-23-52Good news!  We’ve recovered our photos after our computer crash in the Okefenokee Swamp and are now looping back to our last adventures in Florida.  A special shout out to Jeffrey the Wizard at PeachMAC Atlanta for his help getting everything back online.  What a relief!

2013-04-08 at 12-42-462013-04-08 at 12-33-472013-04-08 at 12-43-18Hector has been a fan of space science and every kind of aircraft since he was a kid.  And during his various trips to Kennedy Space Center (including one with me) he became intrigued with the area surrounding the Space Center, which consists of lands that have restricted access close to the launch pads and a larger protected area to increase the overall safety buffer zone.  As these are undeveloped, they also serve as a wonderful wildlife resource.

2013-04-13 at 10-07-48The protected areas include the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches for 140,000 acres, and manages habitat for over 500 species of wildlife and over 1,000 species of plants.

The habitats of the Refuge include freshwater impoundments, saltwater estuaries, hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods, scrub and coastal dunes.   The most productive, and therefore diversified areas are the marshes.  These shallow water grasslands provide a home for crabs, worms, clams, and fish, which attract animals higher in the food chain.

2013-04-08 at 13-56-432013-04-08 at 12-34-102013-04-08 at 13-08-08The Cape Canaveral Seashore, which is part of Merritt Island, is managed by the National Park Service.  The Seashore consists of 57,661 acres on the Atlantic Coast and includes the longest undeveloped stretch of oceanfront left along the East coast of Florida.  It’s an important nesting area for sea turtles; the loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles all nest here from May through August.  We were here too early so we missed it!.

2013-04-08 at 13-15-012013-04-08 at 16-07-04So we came to the area to not only visit Kennedy Space Center once again but also to visit the National Wildlife Refuge and the National Seashore for the first time.

We thought we’d seen beautiful birds in Florida so far, but this was one of the best areas for viewing birds of all.

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Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

One of the most interesting areas of the Wildlife Refuge is the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile self-guided tour through salt and freshwater marshes.  We made the drive several times:  in the afternoon, in the morning and mid-day, to try to catch views of different types of wildlife.  2013-04-09 at 07-44-07

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

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2013-04-09 at 06-13-44One morning, we watched the sunrise on the beach at the National Seashore.  The beach is wild and unspoiled with no road access for over 12 miles. 2013-04-09 at 06-17-462013-04-08 at 14-10-122013-04-09 at 06-21-53

2013-04-09 at 06-51-15Just after dawn we saw an absolutely crazy bird feeding frenzy in a pond near the ocean.  Lots of species, thousands of birds, all absolutely gorging on food in this small body of water.  Including massive groups of White Pelicans feeding as a unit.  Whatever was in the water was good to eat and there was apparently a lot of it.2013-04-09 at 06-49-562013-04-09 at 06-51-112013-04-09 at 06-49-552013-04-09 at 06-50-562013-04-08 at 13-26-192013-04-08 at 13-30-332013-04-13 at 09-59-542013-04-09 at 07-49-052013-04-08 at 16-48-37 (1)

Black Skimmer, skimming of course

Black Skimmer, skimming of course

2013-04-08 at 16-48-372013-04-09 at 07-52-482013-04-09 at 07-58-122013-04-09 at 07-54-012013-04-09 at 07-57-242013-04-09 at 07-59-452013-04-09 at 08-07-182013-04-13 at 10-36-142013-04-08 at 14-55-59Later that day, we spotted a mama West Indian Manatee and her nursing calf from the Manatee Observation Deck at Haulover Canal, also part of the Seashore.

2013-04-10 at 17-38-292013-04-10 at 15-01-31Another day, we went on a canoe trail on Mosquito Lagoon, along the backside of the Seashore’s barrier island.   The canoe trail was absolutely striking, with tall palm trees on the islands, lots of birds and one funny raccoon wading in the water.   As we came ashore we spotted a huge manatee across the water.    Love those manatees.2013-04-10 at 15-13-302013-04-10 at 15-01-292013-04-10 at 15-40-062013-04-10 at 15-59-142013-04-10 at 15-35-522013-04-10 at 15-24-132013-04-10 at 17-12-43

2013-04-12 at 21-36-55And, on our last evening, we drove to a town called Celebration, in the Orlando area, to visit the fourth cousin of the Murphy-Vega clan, Bob, and his wife Yara.  We had yet another lovely family reunion with them and also my cousin Mimi and her boyfriend Tim, who’d driven over from Sarasota.2013-04-12 at 21-30-21

2013-04-09 at 07-44-40We would have stayed longer, but this was one of the shorter stops on our way north.   I do recommend to anyone traveling to the Kennedy Space Center to stay a few days extra and check out this lovely area.

~ Brenda

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One thought on “Florida’s Space Coast

  1. Wow!!! (I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record because I’m in the habit of always starting off my comments with “wow”, but golly, that’s how I feel after reading your posts!!!) As always the photos and narratives are amazing!!! And you even saw a painting bunting!!! Wowee!!! I really love sharing your adventures. Thank you so much!! Love, Rebecca

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