Marc Epstein works here as senior refuge biologist. He describes the area as a birdwatcher’s dream, a beachcomber’s delight, a garden in the sun, a land in between, and a place where wildlife comes first. The refuge population includes more than 500 species. Twenty are listed as threatened or endangered. Marc may not have photographed them all, but he hasn’t missed many. (Visit marcepstein.homestead.com.) His photos here and on the previous pages show the love he has for this place. Residential interior designer See the refuge yourself by taking State 406 off U.S. 1 in Titusville (1-95 exit 80). Call 321861-0667 or click on merrittisland. fws. gov. You might want to bring a camera and binoculars. Or just your eyes, ears, and attention.
T’ hough its numbers have increased in recent years, the bald eagle (left) is among the 20 threatened or endangered species found at this watery refuge. The osprey (right), also known as fish hawk, is a protected species. The friendly Florida scrub jay (top center) is listed as threatened because the scrub vegetation it likes, though plentiful here, is being bulldozed elsewhere in Florida. Wood storks, posing like undertakers at top left, are also officially endangered. On the other hand, egrets are common. That’s a great egret at top right and a snowy egret in breeding plumage at bottom left. (Great egrets have yellow bills and black feet. The smaller snowy egret has a black bill and yellow feet.) The roseate spoonbill (bottom right) feeds by sweeping its unusual bill through the water, catching small fish and other prey. For wild coloration, nothing beats the wood duck (bottom center). T1 he restoration complete, Fletcher’s Neck belongs to the Johnsons in more ways than simply having their name on the deed.