This national monument at Matanzas Inlet has several prime birding spots. Start at the visitor center and pick up a map and bird list, then hike the nature trail’s boardwalk through maritime hammock, watching for migratory warblers, vireos and tanagers. Most of the nature trail is wheelchair accessible. Great Horned Owls sometimes nest behind the visitor center. Take the short ferry ride (free) across the Matanzas River to the 1700s-era Spanish fort, and scan the marshes for Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills. Two beach accesses are located south of the visitor center entrance road, one on each side of A1A. Park on the west side of the road, just north of the Matanzas bridge, and walk south along the inlet’s shore. Scope the river for wintering ducks like Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, as well as Common Loons and Horned Grebes. This area is designated as Matanzas Inlet Critical Wildlife Area, and portions of the beach are closed from April to August for the protection of beach-nesting birds. On the ocean side, terns and gulls are abundant and look for Northern Gannets fishing offshore during the winter months. Black Skimmers and Least Terns can be found in the spring and summer and Piping Plovers from fall to spring. Painted Buntings may also be present in spring and summer. Guided bird walks are scheduled from September to May; call ahead for details. Click here for more information about the Matanzas Inlet Critical Wildlife Area.