Space Coast Audubon Visits the Cocoa Conservation Area
On Saturday, April 10th, Space Coast Audubon Society Field Trip Coordinator Bert Alm and Cocoa resident Gregg Stoll led a group of 20 birding enthusiasts on a 2-hour hike thru the Cocoa Conservation Area. This nature park is located at the north end of Range Road and west of Cocoa High School. Access to the Park is at the end of Cocoa Bay Blvd. The City of Cocoa was able to preserve this natural habitat with assistance of a grant from Forever Florida through Florida Communities Trust, Department of Community Affairs.
To keep with the current CDC COVID-19 guidelines the participants observed social distancing, all wore face masks and split up into two groups of ten.
The group identified 24 species of birds in the various ecosystems located within the park. As you drive in the short entrance road, you traverse the rolling hills of an ancient sand dune leading to a covered picnic pavilion with restroom facilities and plenty of parking. This area of the park is at the peak of an ancient sand dune, 39' above mean sea level, thus high and dry. This is also a perfect environment for a different species, the Florida Gopher Tortoise. Many call this hill their home.
The highlight of the trip was the sighting of the Pileated Woodpeckers in a dead pine snag located just off the trail. We got to see both adults, one of them feeding their baby whose head kept popping out of the cavity. I say baby, but this is late in the breeding season, it is a big bird, just like the adults.
If you're used to seeing the Red-Bellied Woodpecker in your neighborhood, which is a 10" bird, the Pileated Woodpecker is almost twice the size at 17". It doesn't tolerate development nearly as well as the Red-Bellied so to see a nesting pair in the City of Cocoa is truly a treat.
Bert has led many Space Coast Audubon Society field trips but he never know about what I call "Cocoa's Hidden Gem". This was their first visit to the park and everyone was so impressed. Bert is now going to add this into his regular schedule of trips for the group. All were so surprised to have such a gem right in their own back yard.
A special thanks to the Public Works Department who have been doing an outstanding job and everyone was impressed with this area.