If you read our first travel entry, you might remember that we enjoying birding during our travels. So to start off the new year, here’s our latest travel/birding adventure. We planned a day trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, one of Florida’s best birding spots. It was on our last visit there, about a year ago, that we saw a Florida panther! how cool is that. Unfortunately, it ran into the brush too quickly and we were left with no proof of our sighting. With camera in hand and ready to shoot, we headed out once again hoping to get some proof this time.
We woke up at 5 a.m. on an unusually cold Florida morning and after a 2 hour drive, we finally arrived to our destination. We started off by visiting the visitor’s center. We checked out their sightings log, in which someone swore to have seen a black panther a few days ago. We set our sight on seeing our Florida panther again. While at the visitor’s center, we saw a painted bunting. For those of you who don’t know much about birds, painted buntings are kind of a rare sight to see, so it was very exciting to say to least.
After driving through some of the trails, we went back into town to get a bite to eat. Wayne spotted this little taco place, where a lot of locals were eating and we decided to give it a try. The tacos were pretty tasty and the place had a nice relaxed atmosphere.
After our quick lunch break, we headed back out to Merritt Island to continue our hunt for the elusive Florida panther. This time we drove through Black Point trail where you have the beach to the left of you and a canal full of gators to the right of you. One of our first animal finds was a wild boar! A surprise to see one there for sure. There was a good amount of migratory birds, beautiful landscapes and plenty of gators (my least favorite part).
During the last part of the day, we went to the manatee lookout point, hoping to see some. We didn’t see any manatees this time but we did see a kingfisher and Wayne spotted and saved a crab! The crab was about to get run over by a car when Wayne jumped in front of the car to save the crab’s life and moved it to the grassy area near the parking lot.
The weather was pretty much perfect that day, the drive was nice and relaxing, we spotted a lot of cool birds and wild chanchos. Unfortunately we did not run into that panther again. I guess we’ll have to come back and hope that we see it then.