Saturday, April 27, 2013
North along Florida's Gulf Coast
An early morning stop at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp gave us two surprises - the brand new Nature Education Center and the extremely dry conditions from the several years of drought. Most of the birds were concentrated in the two remaining "gator holes". It was sad to see so little water around the knees of the Bald Cypress and the Pond Cypress trees. This Roseate Spoonbill was one of only a few birds in the ponds. Only two Wood Storks were seen. When we visited here many years ago this was the main nesting area for them.
We drove to Fort Myers Beach and camped a week at the Red Coconut RV Resort - right on the snow-white sands. The gulf water was warm - suitable for salty swimming, shell collecting and bird watching. This Snowy Egret was feeding in the surf along with Willets, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones. Magnificent Frigatebirds soared over the condo towers along this barrier island.
We took a day to visit Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Along the four mile auto tour, we stopped numerous times to hike and explore this gem of Florida. We observed this Yellow-crowned Night-heron catching a crab for breakfast. He carefully clipped off the claws then swallowed the rest whole.
This lively River Otter was too busy securing his own breakfast to pay attention to the camera. He was diving for oysters and crabs.
We reported a fishline tangled Black-crowned Night-heron to the local rehab center (CROWS) and they rescued the bird from being tied to a tree branch.
This Black Racer was sunning along the edge of the nature trail, the sun felt good on this cool morning.
Adjacent to the Red Coconut was the Matanza Pass Preserve - a nature conservancy with extensive hiking trails and boardwalks through the mangroves. This young raccoon got separated from his family - mama was calling and he kept playing "peek-a-boo" with us as he tried to get across the boardwalk.
We spent 4 days at Myakka River State Park in their new RV campground. Bobwhite quail were quite abundant in the area. They whistled their presence and scooted here and there. This female quickly darted across our site followed shortly by the male.
Who says only birds respond to "pishing"? This 9-Banded Armadillo sat up and took notice to the sounds, (as he is a little near sighted) taking a break from hunting for grubs. This South American import is fond of digging up lawns and not appreciated by homeowners.
There is lots to see at Myakka and one treat was seeing these young Barred Owls, found high in a live oak tree.
We walked the canopy walk, an elevated suspension bridge between two towers. A beautiful walk in the tree tops.
We also took the "Gator Gal" (the largest air boat in Florida - and very quiet too) on a tour of Lake Myakka. Lots of alligators, wild hogs, Black-necked Stilts, Ospreys fishing and many herons and egrets.
This is a Black-hooded Parakeet (Nanday) that we found a flock of on our way out to Ft. DeSoto County Park just south of St. Petersburg. We spent a day and a half on this Key and found great shorebirds, terns, and added Am. Oystercatchers to our list.
It's getting to feel a lot like summer here and we will keep heading north.
Blessings to all, Ty & Ida Baumann