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Black Point Wildlife Drive

Black Point Wildlife Drive provides lots of opportunity to see wildlife.  It is part of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge in Merritt Island, Florida.  Getting to the Refuge is easy, I always take US Hwy 1 to A. Max Brewer Parkway, once you go over the bridge you are on your way to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Black Point Wildlife Drive, Cape Canaveral Seashore and Kennedy Space Center.   For more information on the refuge visit the website at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/.   

This post will mostly have photos from the Black Point Wildlife Drive.  However as it is part of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, I do include some information about the Refuge.   There is a $10 fee to visit the drive or you can buy an annual pass.

If this is your first time visiting the Black Point Wildlife Drive, I highly recommend you stop by the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.   It is located off the right fork of A. Max Brewer Parkway and the address is .   Hours vary, so I suggest checking the website before your visit. There you can pay the $10 fee to visit Black Point Wildlife Drive and the Bio Lab Road or buy an annual pass.  You can also get maps, brochures and other information about the Refuge and what it has to offer plus they have restrooms.  There is small gift shop where you can get souvenirs or pick up any supplies you forgot, such as bug spray.    Behind the Visitor Center there is a boardwalk where you never know what you will see. 

Once you drive over the A. Max Brewer Parkway you will see signs letting you know you entering the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.   After a short distance the road forks, if you go left you will go straight to Black Point Wildlife Drive and the right fork takes you to the Visitor Center.  

First set of pictures have a map and pictures from Visitor Center.   While walking the boardwalk I saw a some turtles and a gray catbird.   Past the Visitor Center is the entrance to the John F. Kennedy Space Center.  

 

Second set of pictures are of the Black Point Wildlife Drive.     According to the website the Refuge is home to over 358 species of birds and over 500 species of wildlife.   So far I have only seen a very small portion of the wildlife including birds, alligators, butterflies, insects and flowers.   You are not supposed to fish or crap on the drive, however I have seen people doing both activities. 

 

Third set of the photos are of the Alan Cruickshank Trail.  I believe the trail is about midway through drive.  There is parking and restrooms at this stop.   The trail approximately 5 miles and has a small overlook that has some beautiful views.

 

For more pictures from the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge visit my blog post for The Scrub Ridge Trail – https://lilsusieq.com/scrub-ridge-trail/ and Bio Lab Road – https://lilsusieq.com/bio-lab-road/.

Remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints

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A fun day at Gatorland!

We had a fun day at Gatorland seeing the gators and birds.   They were having a Florida resident special so it only cost $14.99 for me and $9.99 for my daughter which I thought was really reasonable. The park is located in South Orlando off of Orange Blossom Trail.    The website is https://www.gatorland.com/.

I don’t know the square footage of the park but Gatorland didn’t appear to be nearly as large as the Disney or Universal parks. Gatorland doesn’t have the exciting rides either, but what they do have is lots and lots of alligators and birds!   The gators were separated by size and age, I believe to keep the larger gators from eating the smaller ones.  There are several different shows you can watch and some you can even participant in for a fee.   We saw the Gator Jumparoo Show and I found it amazing how high they can jump.  When you look at an alligator you don’t really expect it to be able to move so fast or jump so high.   You can also feed smaller gators with meat by dangling it with fishing poles.

 Of course I took a ton of pictures!  My daughter took this picture of me.   She tries hard to be patient when I busy clicking away.  

 

 

 

The first picture here is a map of the park.  I think it is outdated because it some of the attractions are not listed.  There are also photos of the alligators swimming in the big ponds, the Jumparoo Show, feeding the smaller ones with fishing poles and baby gator nursery.

 

There is a show called Adventure Hour where you can feed the alligators from pretty close.   We paid for the show at the entrance and it sounded exciting.  Later when I look at the pictures I could not believe I let me daughter participate in this – she is too close to the gators.  She had a lot of fun but we might not do this show next time we go.

 

My favorite part of the park is probably the Breeding Marsh.  You can walk on the boardwalk and see all the alligators and birds.  The birds are everywhere and some have chicks in their nests  – I plan on visiting next Spring, it is supposed to be a great placed to get photos.  The Breeding Marsh has over 100 female alligators and 30 males.  

 

Gatorland also has a Train, Swamp Buggy Ride, Zip Line and playground with a splash pad.  Next time we go I want to take the Swamp Buggy ride.   My daughter loves the splash pad.

 

The park also has more than just alligators and birds.  There are crocodiles but I did’t get any pictures, something for next time.   They also has have turtles, panthers, bobcats, raccoons, emus, rabbits, parrots, cockatoos and more!

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Baby alligators at OWP

On my last visit to the  Orlando Wetlands Park (OWP) I finally got to see baby alligators!    OWP is located in Christmas, Florida off of Wheeler Road.  For more information on the park you can see my other blog post at https://lilsusieq.com/orlando-wetlands-park/  or the Orlando Wetlands website at http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/.    I had been to OWP prior to getting my new camera in January but this was the first time I had enough zoom to get a decent picture.   I had seen pictures others had posted on Facebook and I was dying to see them myself. 

On this trip to OWP we had taken the free tram with the tour guides and they knew just were to look to see the mama and baby alligators.  They hanging out in a small little shaded pond off of Hawk Hwy near the Education Center.  She had a couple sitting on her and more in the water.   Despite what it looks like in the picture, I didn’t get to close, I was on the bank on the other side of the water.   Mother alligators can be very protective.   A limpkin was hanging out in the pond too, I guess he wasn’t worried about getting eaten.

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

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Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The drive is open from sunrise to sunset and is a 11 mile one way drive that begins at Lust Road and exits as Jones Road. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some holidays. Check the website at https://www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/wildlife-drive/ for more information. Parts of the drive had been closed during hurricane damage but it is still a great day. There is parking near the old pump house where they also have portable bathrooms.

A self guided audio tour with 11 points of interest follows along the drive. There are numbers posted along the drive the correspond with the audio tour. Access the audio tour at www.sjrwmd.com/LANS. A smartphone or some type of devise with internet is required.

This first set of photographs shows the map of the park, the entrance to the drive and the old pump house and parking.   The portable toilets are located here however there are no sinks.  I bring my own hand sanitizer and paper.

 

Park at the pump house and go hiking or biking along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The trail is approx. 15 miles long and goes to Magnolia Park. I have gone hiking out there several times but I still need to take my bike. I am really looking for to biking, I doubt I’ll make the full 15 miles but can I do 5 to 10.

This next set of photographs is of the Loop near the pump house, you can go either north towards McDonald Canal Boat Ramp or south to Magnolia Park.

 

The drive is approximately 11 miles but expect to be there 2 or 3 hours. Everyone drives very slow, about 5 or 10 miles per hour, so they can see the scenery and wildlife. Along the drive there are places to pull over so you can take photographs of the wildlife and beautiful scenery!  

As you can see from the photographs below, there is a lot to see on both sides of the drive. 

 

The LAWD website says there are over 360 species of birds but I have only seen a handful.  The birds move so fast, I find them hard to photograph. I have a Sony a6000 and my lens only goes up to 200 so I don’t get really good pictures of the little birds. However I have gotten some great pictures of larger birds, mostly great blue heron, egret, hawk, osprey and anhinga. I would love to get a picture of an eagle but I have yet to see one.

This next set of photographs show some of my best birds photos.

 

There is more that just birds to see such as otters, rabbits, bobcats, snakes, turtles, alligators, butterflies and flowers. So far I have only seen snakes, butterflies, alligators and rabbits.

The last set of photographs show some of the best shots I have gotten of alligators and  flowers.  

 

Overall, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is a wonderful place to spend the day whether you are into photography or just looking for something to do. I would recommend bringing water and snacks if plan on making a day of it, it gets very hot out there.

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!