Many Birds in Merritt Island, Viera Wetlands and
Lake Okeechobee in Florida
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Many winter waterfowl on one of several shallow marsh impoundments along the 7-mile Black Point Wildlife
Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Florida on the very cold winter and windy day of
January 7, 2014 when we toured this NWR.

Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Merritt Island NWR in Florida

Map: Click here for a detailed local map of Merritt Island NWR

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 as an overlay of NASA’s John F. Kennedy
Space Center.  The 7-mile Black Point Wildlife Drive is off SR-406 (A Max Brewer Memorial Parkway) on
Merritt Island.
Many white ibises busily feeding in their sewing machine style on a shallow impoundment  as shown on the
following YouTube movie that I took:

https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDCtYExZZlA
Group of shore birds in the air. In the winter season, visitors may see over 50 species of waterfowl,
shorebirds, songbirds and raptors along this 7-mile auto tour loop in this NWR.
One of many terns in the air.
Group of shore birds feeding on the shallow water.
Many of these winter waterfowl have their heads down in the water busily eating something. Merritt Island
NWR is known for its abundant birdlife and is a major destination for birders from throughout the world.
Zoom in for closer views of shore birds.
Many birds in the air.
Two alligators seen along the 7-mile Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island NWR. Alligators can often be
seen basking on sunny days during winter months, on dikes or banks throughout the refuge.
A heron in the air.
Egret in the air.
White pelicans in the air
I took a movie clip of a group of white pelicans flying over Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida as
shown in the following YouTube movie:

http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hANw51tmjME&feature=youtu.be
A view of the unpaved 7-mile Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It follows a
dike road around several shallow marsh impoundments and through pine flat woods. These dike roads
provide an excellent place to view wildlife. This provides an excellent place to see many waterfowl, wading
birds, shorebirds and raptors. Alligators, river otters, bobcats, various species of snakes, and other wildlife
may be visible as well.
A bald eagle was eating a fish held under its talon on a tree top in Viera Wetlands (Ritch Grissom Memorial
Wetlands at Viera) in Florida.

After touring Merritt Island NWR, we went to tour Blue Spring State Park, then Viera Wetlands.
The bald eagle eating the fish in Viera Wetlands which is located at 10001 Wickham Road, Melbourne, Florida
32940  

Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Viera Wetlands
Many white ibises in the air over Viera Wetlands.
An osprey was eating a fish held under its talon on a tree top in Viera Wetlands.

This area in winter season is a mecca for birding, especially waterfowl, long legged waders, and raptors.
One of several hooded mergansers in Viera Wetlands
A glossy ibis.

Sought-after waterbirds like Least Bittern, King Rail, Limpkin, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-necked
Stilt and Purple Gallinule make Viera Wetlands a popular destination for birders and photographers.
A glossy ibis in the air and many coots on the water in the background.
A falcon or hawk?
Many wood storks
Zoom in for a close up view of the head of wood stork.
May be a Caracara in the air hunting in Viera Wetlands.
Many white ibises on the unpaved road in Viera Wetlands.
One of several Moorhens in Viera Wetlands.
Many glossy ibises in the air.
Many coots in Viera Wetlands.
A Crested Caracara on tree top in Viera Wetlands. One of the star attractions of Viera Wetlands is the
Crested Caracara which nests here.
Many white pelicans in Dan Click Ponds which is about 300 yards north of Viera Wetlands. Dan Click Ponds is
in the Sod Farm in DUDA COCOA Ranch at 10002 N Wickham Road, Melbourne, Florida 32940. Dan Click
Ponds is on the north side of  N Wickham Road whereas Viera Wetlands are on the south side of N Wickham
Road. A map and direction to Dan Click Ponds are available at the following website:

http://
flwildlife.proboards.com/thread/4549/brevard-county-click-ponds-viera
Some shore birds in Dan Click Ponds.

After touring Viera Wetlands, we drove north about 300 yards to tour Dan Click Ponds.
Observation Deck and pavilion at the north end of Lake Okeechobee.

After finishing touring Dan Click Ponds and Viera Wetlands, we drove south to tour the big Lake Okeechobee
which means "big water" in the Seminole Indian language. It is 50 miles wide, the largest fresh water lake in
the state of Florida and is the headwaters of the Everglades. This big lake is surrounded by 30-foot high
dike. There are several access points over the tall dike to enjoy awesome views of the big lake. The best
access point is at the north end of the lake at the junction of Highway 441/98 and Highway 78 south of the
town of Okeechobee. There is a park here with this observation deck and pavilion.

Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Lake Okeechobee
From this observation deck, we enjoyed watching many pelicans flying just above the water and diving from
mid-air down into the water to catch fish on Lake Okeechobee.
A pelican dived from mid-air down into the water to catch fish.
We saw a Limpkin from the observation deck.
A green heron as viewed from the observation deck.
One of the pelicans on the guard rail of the observation deck.
A man in a pickup truck was feeding the gulls and attracted large number of gulls around the truck.
Many swallows in the air at the control gate of a canal of the Lake Okeechobee. I took a movie clip of these
swallows in action at the following YouTube website:

http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6yaMpB9wm4&feature=youtu.be

Birds, birds, and more birds. There were so many different types of birds in Part 5 of this trip. Lots of birds
in the water and on the wing. An exceptional wildlife auto touring experience. Wildlife photographers dream
come true!

After touring Lake Okeechobee, we drove south to tour Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National
Preserve as reported in Part 2.

There are many interesting places in Florida to see various kinds of birds and wildlife. Parts 1 to 8 of our
2014 Florida Winter Wildlife Watching Trip are at:

Part 1 on
Big Swarm of Sea Birds Surrounding Fishing Boats near St. Johns River Ferry in Florida

Part 2 on Hundreds of Alligators and Many Birds in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National
Preserve in Florida

Part 3 on Beautiful Pink Roseate Spoonbills and Other Wildlife in Myakka River State Park in Florida

Part 4 on Hundreds of Manatees in Beautiful Blue Spring in Florida

Part 5 on Many Birds in Merritt Island, Viera Wetlands and Lake Okeechobee in Florida

Part 6 on Majestic Whooping Cranes and Many Birds in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida

Part 7 on Sand Hill Cranes and Other Wildlife in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and St. Marks NWR in
Florida

Part 8 on Blue Angels Air Show and Wildlife at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida
During winter season, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds use the refuge as a temporary rest stop or
spend the entire winter season loafing in refuge impoundments which creates excellent birding opportunities.
Many refuge dike roads offer excellent wildlife observation and photography opportunities.
A great blue heron nesting on tree top.
In our 2015 January birding tour of Texas Gulf Coast, we also saw a crested caracara on a tree and in the air
as shown on my web page at:

http://
shltrip.com/More_on_Winter_Birding_Along_Gulf_Coast.html
How I use information age technologies to enhance my enjoyment greatly of sightseeing large driving tour loop
of thousands of miles and of one to two weeks in duration covering many Points of Interest is described on my
web page at:

http://
www.shltrip.com/Sightseeing_in_Information_Age.html