This week’s nominee for Florida’s Special Places comes thanks to CedarKey Cindy, one of our earliest supporters. Florida’s Special Places is driven by the passion of people like you. Audubon of Florida encourages you to get outside and enjoy some of the natural splendor that our state has to offer. Take some photos and tell us your story of the land on our Facebook Page.
This week, Cindy has nominated Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. I hope you enjoy her nomination as much as we did! Thanks Cindy!
Submitted by CedarKey Cindy on our Facebook Page:
Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is likely one of the least known refuges on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Located about 1 hour southwest of Gainesville, Florida; the Cedar Keys NWR covers about 800 acres on 13 keys (islands) in the Gulf. Most of the keys are tiny; the two most significant keys for visitors are Atsena Otie Key – about 1 mile from the dock in the town of Cedar Key and Sea Horse Key – approx. 5 miles from town. For bird watchers and naturalists, the NWR is one of the “must sees” on a short list of Florida destinations.
Largely undeveloped and closed to the public during breeding season (March through July) Seahorse Key is a bird-watcher’s dream. Only accessible by boat, the branches of coastal trees are filled with birds – carrying on quite loudly! Species I’ve seen include: Frigate birds; Brown Pelicans; White Ibis; Roseate Spoonbills; Little Blue, Great Blue, Yellow-Crowned Night, and Tri-color Herons; Willets; Snowy and White Egrets; Osprey; Wood Storks; and Cormorants. I’ve also seen seasonally White Pelicans, Skimmers, Oyster-Catchers, Common Loons, and various water fowl. The interior of the island is off-limits to the public. The birding is excellent and doesn’t require much patience!
The town of Cedar Key is located on Way Key and is home to about 1,000 year round residents. Far-off the beaten path of most Florida tourism, island residents are clam farmers, fisherpersons, artists, and tourism business owners/operators. While tourism is now a significant portion of the community’s income, there are no chain restaurants or shops, the closest stoplight is about 30 miles away; and Mickey doesn’t come to Cedar Key. While touted as being like “Key West” before it became popular, Cedar Key has its own charm and low key approach to life. Cedar Key is Old Florida at its best. But, I’m partial to the place.
Photos courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.