Archive by Author | David Hansen

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge…on the road…again

Jodi:  You may already know that David and I set out one morning to go to some of our favorite drive-around sites. 

These days I’m not the only shutterbug in the truck.  While I have been studying David has developed a hobby of his own!  His talent and equipment have definitely surpassed mine…but I will keep on practicing, and we will both bring our knowledge and skills to the table.

David:  I’m definitely a work in progress regarding photography skills.  As I get closer to retirement, I wanted to think ahead to the next chapter.  That chapter will include a continuation of projects such as this blog and, maybe, a few others.

We started this day at Canaveral National Seashore.  The relatively early hour meant that the crowds hadn’t arrived yet on this perfect beach day.  We walked the beach and observed more high energy wave action than usual due to a far-off tropical disturbance.  Hunger pangs soon set in and we decided to head to an early lunch.

J:  After lunch we headed south to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge [MINWR] for some additional sightseeing.

At most places in Florida, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s morning, evening or somewhere in between…we always seem to see the beauty.

D:  We’re also, hopefully, not too far away from the cooler temperatures and lower humidity of fall in Florida.  I know this trip took place in late September, but the weather had yet to take on those fall weather characteristics.  We’ll soon start to see the effects of annual migrations on the species we can observe.  It will also be nice not to sweat through our clothes from walking around!

Little blue heron

J:  From our experience, MINWR is a great place for birds of all kinds.  Not long after the front gate this one was sneaking up on a snick snack as we watched.

In one of the canals off to the right, we found this little family.

Common gallinule with chicks

One of the kids was as curious about me snapping pics as I was about it.

In the way that it’s shedding, this plant somewhat reminded me of the ‘cat tails’ that I remember as a kid ‘up north.’

David taught me the way to tell the difference between and Egret and a White Heron is the color of their legs…an Egret has black legs…right David?

D:  Easiest way for me.

J:  Now to my last pic of the day:  this little gator was about two feet long from nose to tail and his head was quite tiny.  Maybe an inch separated his eyes and it had a short little snout.  It appeared all alone, but rest assured where there are little gators… there are big Momma Gators lurking somewhere close.  Cute as it was, I stayed in the truck to get this pic.

D: We ventured down Bio Lab Road where I hoped to be able to observe some horseshoe crabs as I had a few weeks before.  Unfortunately, this was a bust and, as it was getting late, we decided to end this adventure and, as always, look forward to the next one.

Stay Tuned for our next adventure.

Remember to: Take only photos and leave only footprints.

Now get out there and Hike Central FL and Beyond.

Home – Merritt Island – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (

Early Voting

I voted today.  There was no wait and it took me all of 20 minutes, tops, to sign in, cast ballot and get my “I voted” sticker.  Early voting is the bomb!

Cross Seminole Trail – A Relaxing Ride

David:  Whereas some like my brother and his mountain biking friends prefer to be out bashing and thrashing through the mud and trees of a mountain bike course, my taste runs to a nice smooth trail pedaling at a sane pace and soaking in the sights.  The section of the Cross-Seminole Trail from downtown Oviedo to Layer Elementary in Winter Springs is a favorite of mine with bridges, creeks, parks, wildflowers, wildlife and easy access.

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New Feature!! – Updated 10/9/2014

Just updated a new feature – Flora and Fauna Gallery – Interactive. It’s kind of a “have you seen this” critter, wildflower, etc.   Hope you can check it out and let us know what you’ve seen and what you think!

New Theme for the Blog

Just wanted to let you know that your eyes are not deceiving you.  Jodi and I are trying out a new format or theme for the blog.  Let us know what you think!



Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – Birds, et al

Jodi:  On our second trip to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge we couldn’t believe all of the activity we saw!  At least four different types of birds in one shot and this is only the first turn along the drive.


Wading birds

Wading birds

David:  Great and snowy egrets, white ibis and a couple of wood storks for good measure.  This place was living up to its reputation as a birders’ paradise and we were just getting started!

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New Feature!!

Just added a new feature – Flora and Fauna (flowers and critters) Gallery – Interactive. It’s kind of a “have you seen this” critter, wildflower, etc.   Hope you can check it out and let us know what you’ve seen and what you think!

Hontoon Island State Park – Volusia County, FL

Jodi:  We parked in the lot and waited for the ferry to dock and take us over to the island located in the St. Johns River.

David:  Your options for getting to Hontoon Island are either the ferry or your own watercraft of some kind.  And, while there were no ferry or admission costs (as of this writing), there was an opportunity to donate some cash on the island itself.

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Gemini Springs Park – Debary, FL

Jodi:  Gemini Springs is home to two of Central Florida’s many natural springs where the water is 72 degrees year round.  A bit on the chilly side for this native New Yorker…I mean long-time Florida resident.  When I was a kid 72 degrees was the magic number for pool water.  By that I mean that’s when Mom had finally heard enough begging and let us get in for the first swim of the season up north.  Today, I’ll admit, my system prefers 80 degrees.

David:  Jodi and I both come from western New York State.  Learning to swim in the Finger Lakes meant that moms became very astute at observing their children for certain signs like turning blue and uncontrollable shivering!  That was time to get out and warm up no matter how much we begged to stay in…kids.

Anyway, I first came to know of this park and springs through patronage of the Lake Monroe Park a short distance away.  I like to launch my boat from Lake Monroe Park (which was also the starting place for our earlier St. Johns River boating adventure).  I found out that there is a trail leading from Lake Monroe Park to Gemini Springs Park.  One thing lead to another and there we were!

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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – The Adventures Begin

Entrance Signage

Entrance Signage

Jodi:  Anyone who knows me is very aware that I would rather be at a beach than anywhere else on the planet.  I can honestly say that the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge [MINWR] is currently ranking second.  I think I could take the 7-mile Black Point Wildlife Drive every day and see something new.  It’s the type of place where anyone can go regardless of age and see the beauty that Florida has to offer.

David:  A very interesting place which owes, at least, some of its biological diversity to efforts to combat the salt marsh mosquito.  The various impoundments and water control practices have created areas where fresh and salt/brackish waters and wetlands are in close proximity.  This “best of both worlds” scenario allows for a host of species to exist in roughly the same place as we will see.

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Leaf And Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Editor at Longreads. Automattician since 2012. Californian since 1979. Junglist for life.


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