Friday, March 16, 2012

Pelican National Wildlife Preserve and the Jungle Trail

Today we decided to drive A-1A, the highway that travels along the Atlantic Ocean. We headed north towards Melbourne to explore a couple of RV parks along the way, to maybe see some more beaches, and just to see the sights. Rain threatened all morning long, so road trip to the rescue! About 125 miles later, we're back and here's the best of what we experienced...

Our favorite sight to see today was the Pelican Wildlife Refuge...the first national wildlife refuge. There are several trails of them a historical jungle trail. We were just briefly exploring, so we didn't check that one out....You can bike the jungle trail and it's paved, sort of an oxymoron in my opinion!
Here is the entrance of one of the walking trails...Had I had my shoes on and not my sandals and some bug spray, I would have explored it further. Now THAT looks like a jungle trail!
The preserve had a wonderful 3/4 mile boardwalk/nature trail called the Centennial Trail that commemorated all the national wildlife refuges in the United States. This trail passes through restored wetlands, tidal mangroves and hammocks, culminating in a boardwalk leading to an observation tower overlooking Pelican Island. There are 540 engraved planks with the refuge name, state or territory and the year it was inducted...It was interesting to see how many each state had...There was a kiosk with a map showing dots and locations of refuges all over the country. The whole state of North Dakota was COVERED with national wildlife refuges...It looked like it had the most. Here you can see the planks a little better....

At the end of the boardwalk, there is an 18 foot observation tower that directly faces Pelican Island, a 3 mile island that is a natural mangrove where migratory birds come to roost every night and use as a rookery. As many as 30 different species of birds visit this island. Sixteen species nest there.  There are four different kinds of egrets that can be sometimes seen on Pelican Island, and FIVE kinds of herons.

One single man was responsible for beginning the initial battle to save this beautiful area from humans' devastating habit of ruining their environment. This man, Paul Kroegel, all four foot, eleven inches of him, with a double barrel shotgun held off  feather hunters coming to Pelican Island to kill the birds for their plumage. He eventually became one of the first Audubon wardens in Florida. We'll probably never remember this guy's name, but we will remember that "one person can make a difference."

There are marshes at the preserve where you can see a wide variety of ducks...We think we saw some loons and definitely saw a flotilla of white pelicans. There were about a dozen of them cruising the lake, back and forth, back and forth. Sparky forgot her camera battery and memory card, but she had the camera. Good grief! Lotta good that did! Photos today are from Eldo's wonderful iphone 4S camera.

There are very nice resting places to sit and contemplate and appreciate nature.....
There were THOUSANDS of white butterflies in the preserve today...It was one giant butterfly garden!
Along with the interesting boardwalk, the beautiful views of the marshes and Pelican Island, the great hiking trails, we learned that the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to honor the centennial celebration of the National Wildlife Refuge system. It's a pelican, natch!
There were a lot of people out today enjoying this beautiful natural resource and refuge....and we were among them! We are so thankful that we get to see these places wherever we go thanks to the dedication and conservation efforts of the people who have come before us and thought it was important to save wonderful nature sites for future generations.....


  1. We enjoy visiting any Wildlife Refuge! They are always so peaceful. This trail looks lovely! Glad you had a great day. ~wheresweaver

  2. Sounds like another great refuge that we need to add to our list.

  3. My original reason for wanting to full time was to visit all the National Wildlife Refuges in the country. That's still my goal. This looks like a great one. When we go back to Sebastian State Park for 2 weeks next winter it is definitely on my list.