Too bad you drove all that way and found the refuge closed. Here's an
alternative for anyone who gets caught in that situation again, or anyone
who just wants to see some great areas off the beaten path.

I believe this is still accurate during shuttle launch refuge shutdowns.
We've been gone from Central Florida for about 3 years, so this may be old

Go back to US 1 in Titusville and drive north to State Rd. 3. Turn south on
SR 3 and you can drive all the way down to the Haulover Canal bridge.  SR 3
is closed at the guard station just south of the Haulover bridge. On the
west side of SR 3 just north of the Haulover bridge (less than 1/2 mile I
believe) is a dirt road that goes off into the woods & orange groves. Follow
that back to the dike road that is built atop the old mosquito control
dikes. You can then drive north along the shoreline of Indian River for
miles up the dike road and observe lots of shorebirds, raptors, ducks, water
birds, pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, herons, etc. Plus there are lots of
marshy areas on the east side of the dike road and some oak hammocks,
mangroves ,etc. where lots of species are possible. There are areas along SR
3 (especially south of Haulover) where scrub jays are frequently seen. Hope
this helps. If anyone knows for sure if this is still accurate, please
Jim Gray

----- Original Message -----
From: "Clay Taylor" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, October 06, 2000 10:14 AM
Subject: [FLORIDABIRDS-L] Merritt Island Closed

Hi all -

    Well, I set up the booth at the Florida Birding Fest in Clearwater on
Thursday morning, then drove east to Titusville in hopes of seeing the
shuttle launch that evening.  As we hit Orlando, my sister called to tell me
that the launch was postponed.  Darn.

    So, since we were almost there, we decided to keep on truckin' over to
Merritt Island NWR to see a few birds.  After crossing the bridge from
Titusville, the gate was manned, and the guard said that all of Merritt
Island was closed until the Shuttle was launched - regardless of how long
the delay.  Darn, again.  Now, we hear that the launch is scheduled for
Monday, so if the guard was accurate, there will be no birding on the refuge
this weekend!

    We made the best of a frustrating situation and checked out Blue Heron
for the first time - nothing unusual, but a very neat place.  The best thing
of the day happened as we drove west from Blue Heron towards Orlando, about
halfway to the airboat place, as a gorgeous adult Caracara flew right over
the car.  I have never seen one quite so far north in FL before, and it was
a lifer for my wife.  That, plus a really nice sunset, put me in a better
mood for the drive west.

Clay Taylor
Swarovski Optik