Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nature Coast Wildlife Watching

Our first stop after leaving Port St. Lucie was St. Cloud and more great looks of the Florida specialty - the Snail Kite.

We also found an unusual Boat-tailed Grackle at the Lake Park.  The bird is leucistic showing a lot of white where it should be all black.

We had a picnic lunch with Neil Payne at his home southwest of Disney World.  Although he is from Wisconsin we have only visited him in Florida and Newfoundland.

We drove to Thonotosassa and stayed at River Palms RV Park.  So glad they had a pool as it was 90 degrees for the 2 days we were there.
Took a walk along the beach of Honeymoon Island then drove to Crystal River where we found a good number of birds including this Yellow-crowned Night-heron.

We then spent 2 nights at Manatee Springs State Park with the huge spring going into the Suwaunee River.  Vultures roosted each night at the mouth of the Spring.

Many Banded Water Snakes and this Common King Snake were along the Cypress trees that lined the boardwalk.
Black Swallowtail - female

Green Tree Frog

Manatee Springs

Eastern Glass Lizard

We then drove to St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge on the "Nature Coast" on the Gulf of Mexico, located on the curve into Florida's Panhandle.  We stayed at Newport County Park driving everyday (4 days) 6 miles to the Lighthouse Point.  We found 126 species of birds but we both got just as many gnat bites from Punkies or No-see-ums.  Hope they heal up soon.
Alligators - grin and bear it.

Gray Ratsnake

On the beach we saw 1,000's of Fiddler Crabs

Black Skimmer

Ty spent many hours looking for the Pygmy Rattlesnake - this colorful, small but dangerous reptile was finally located the last day that we were there.

Softshell Turtle

Each day as the tide rose, the shorebirds moved off the Gulf of Mexico into this more secluded pond.  We observed over a dozen species before the thousands were flushed by an overhead Bald Eagle.
Little Metalmark

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Our next stay was at Ochlockonee River State Park, the pine forest here is managed for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Brown-headed nuthatches, and Bachman's Sparrows.  After locating these target birds we added a Saltmarsh Sparrow and the special White Squirrels.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

It was also a bit of a walk down memory lane as it was in 1980 that we camped here with our sons Travis and Troy on our first trip to Florida.
Zebra Swallowtail

Unknown Golden Moth - help with I.D.?

We only have a few days left before heading north to Wisconsin, so we are going to the beach near Carrabelle.

Best to All,
Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann
Sunrise at Ochlockonee River State Park

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