Canaveral National Seashore: Apollo Beach

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Twenty-four miles of undeveloped beach, acres of maritime hammock and coastal strand, plus the Mosquito Lagoon and associated mudflats ensure great birding at this barrier island preserve. Get a map at the entrance station and proceed to Turtle Mound on the right (west) side of the road, just prior to parking area #2. A viewing platform atop the mound is a perfect vantage point to scan the lagoon or ocean for birds. Continue south and pick up a bird checklist at the information center, where you can also check the lagoon. As you drive southward, there are multiple beach access points on the east side, each with elevated boardwalks/platforms on the dune line. They provide birders the opportunity to scope for seabirds and ducks in fall and winter; small flocks of Black and Surf Scoters may be seen between November and March. Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers are often spotted harassing terns and gulls, and there is always a chance of seeing Black Terns in August and September. Rarities like Long-tailed Duck, Cory’s Shearwater, and Iceland Gull have been recorded. Several short trails through maritime hammock are productive for Painted Buntings and migratory songbirds (Castle Windy Trail is recommended). Guided tours and programs are available, so call ahead for details or check the information center for a schedule when you arrive. A beach wheelchair is available, ask at the fee booth. Parking lots fill quickly, so it’s best to arrive early.

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