Saturday, November 24, 2012

Florida Atlantic Coast

Crossing into Florida we drove around the Jacksonville area and settled into Bryn Mawr RV Park at Crescent Beach south of St. Augustine.  We walked the extensive beaches and birded to the jetty where we found these Ruddy Turnstones.  There were many Willets and Sanderlings, lots of Brown Pelicans, Black Scoters and Greater Scaup on the move.  We then spent a couple days at Anastasia Island State Park - more beach walking where we found Wilson's Plovers resting in the sand.  We saw more Gopher Tortoises in the dunes - see picture in Georgia Blog.

 At Ponce de Leon Inlet south of Daytona Beach, we walked to the fishing jetty where Snowy Egrets were waiting for handouts from those catching bait in nets.  This one posed for everyone to take pictures.  Also saw a Piping Plover and Reddish Egrets on the inlet.

Canaveral National Seashore was our next destination covering the northern shores then south toward Titusville.  At our picnic lunch stop, we noticed the front tire was flat - after changing it we drove to Tires Plus to get it fixed - broken stem, no charge!

We spent 9 days at "The Great Outdoors RV, Nature and Golf Resort".  The place was huge, and had great nature trails and a small Nature Center.  Lots of birds and butterflies like this Zebra Longwing Butterfly were found along the trails.  We attended the in-park church along with about 400 others, most arrived in their golf carts, but as non golfers  we walked the 1 1/2 miles from our site.
 We made two more trips back to Merritt Island National Wildlife Area - the vast wetlands with it's rich wildlife.  We slowly drove the Black Point auto tour where we pulled up behind an Audubon field trip and pointed out to them a beautiful drake Eurasian Wigeon amid 11 species of ducks.  We also added Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills and many alligators, plus Florida Scrub Jays - trip bird #602

Our friends Denny & Sue Dunlop arrived to their winter home across from us and we enjoyed 3 days of visiting and eating out until we left for Melbourne Beach.

There we found more Green Bay friends, Tom & Darlene Swille.  We joined them for church at their large worship center, and went later to Turkey Creek Sanctuary and Nature Center for a beautiful day of exploring.  We enjoyed walking the unusually narrow beach, thanks to Hurricane Sandy that scoured tons of sand from the beach and dunes.  We did have lots of Sanderlings running in the waves as these pictured.  With the north winds and high surf we counted over 800 Northern Gannets flying south and feeding.  We wondered if any of these birds were the ones we saw on the nesting cliffs in Newfoundland.

At the Melbourne Beach RV park we found our first Royal Palms with fruit turning red.  Also saw trip bird #603 flying over the park - a Magnificent Frigatebird.  We are now heading to Lake Okeechobee for a few days and then to Port St. Lucie.

Our best to everyone.
Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida

Friday, November 9, 2012


 Our first stop was Tybee Island east of Savannah, Georgia at River's End RV Park.  We had some great birds within walking distance from the park. We saw 53 Am. Oystercatchers and 100's of Black Skimmers, Sandwich and Royal Terns plus Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Horseshoe Crabs were being washed up on the beach in the rough surf like this large one pictured.  Bottled-nosed Dolphins played and caught fish near the shore; surfacing, jumping, rollings and tail waving.
We decided to "Hyde" out on Jekyll Island as Hurricane Sandy passed by 200 miles out to sea.  Before it came north, we found all these Fiddler Crabs marching along the upper beach.  For the next 3 days this area was completely covered by high surf from the storm.
 With the low pressure, high winds and terrifically high surf, we found a very interesting sight.  Over 5,000 Tree Swallows swirling and landing on the beach scrub brush, then erupting to swirl again.  Here is the video, which we hope you can access so you can share in this phenomenal experience.
Jekyll Island is a very unique, historical island, beautifully kept mostly undeveloped.  The campground had a "Bird Sanctuary" where we watch 24 species of birds come to the feeding and watering areas.  On this small island we found 77 species in the 5 days we spent here.

Being near the Jacksonville TV reception area we were able to watch the Packer game in Green Bay and see the familiar scenes of "home".  It was great to see the Packers beat the Jags.
As cold air moved southward - we did too, heading to the Okefenokee Swamp staying just north of the National Wildlife Refuge at the Laura S. Walker State Park.  We saw our first Armadillo, found Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches and Com. Ground Doves.  We intercepted this fast moving Gopher Tortoise as it headed to its large underground burrow.

We are now following the Florida coast south.
Our best to all our followers.
Thanks for joining us for our adventures.
God Bless "you all".
Ty & Ida Baumann