'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, Florida wildlife, making memories, moments, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip

That kind of day…

When I proposed to my friend that we make a stop at Myakka River State Park while we were in the general area the other day, I had Roseate Spoonbills on my mind.  I knew from other photographers’ pictures that they are sometimes found at that park, and I hoped to take a fabulous picture like the ones I’ve seen online.  When we arrived the Ranger asked if we were looking for alligators, I told him no, we were hoping to see Spoonbills.  He directed us to an area called the Weir, and we made that our first stop, but didn’t have any luck.  We continued the drive through the park, and I also walked out onto the bird walk, hoping to see them there.  I didn’t.  We completed the drive but the north gate was closed so we headed back out the way we came in.  The Weir was only a little out of the way so we made another stop, and as we were driving to turn around in the parking lot one flew into view and landed at the shoreline.  This guy was quite cooperative, walking along the shore dipping his ‘spoon’ into the water and swinging his head back and forth.  Their bill serves as a sieve to capture their lunch.  And when he was nearly out of sight he turned around and came back.  I wasn’t able to get the picture that I hoped to get, the one I imagined, but I felt lucky to have seen this guy at all.  Sometimes you make a plan for a day and all the pieces fall into place.  It was that kind of day.03-23-20spoonbillcolor.jpg03-23-20spoonbilldrip03-23-20spoonbillcolor203-23-20spoonbillwingredo

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a second look, adventure, birds, egrets, Florida wildlife, life, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Venice egrets…

Egrets are such beautiful birds.  They seem to be graceful and elegant all the time.  Well, except for when they are feeding their young, then it seems like they take their life in their hands.  Err, beaks.03-20-20daytripegretfeeds03-20-20daytripegrettwig.jpg03-20-20daytripegretandblues.jpg03-22-20veniceegrets303-22-20veniceegrets403-22-20veniceegretsgrab.jpg03-22-20veniceegrets.jpgWhile I can take pictures of egrets just a couple of minutes from home, it’s impossible to resist taking pictures of them no matter where you find them.

'scene' along the way, adventure, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, life, life goes on, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, unintended images

Not the usual subjects…

Okay, alligators aren’t all that unusual here in Florida, and neither is this leatherback turtle.  I used to see them in my back yard, they are water turtles.  But they come on land to lay eggs, and it seems that what this one was hell bent on finding a spot for exactly that.  I saw her throwing sand as she dug, flinging a shovel-full with each foot.03-20-20daytripbottlenosed2Another photographer called this a ”bottlenose turtle”, so I took a close up.  Now that’s a face only a mother could love.03-20-20daytripbottlenosedI have a time of it when I see a black water bird.  Are they cormorants or anhingas? I said this out loud and was told the cormorants have a hook on their beak, and anhinga’s beaks are straight.  So that’s settled.  Those three young cormorants on their nest were making quite the racket.  They looked big enough to fend for themselves to me!03-20-20daytripanhinga.jpg03-20-20daytripcormorant203-20-20daytripcormorantsA woman with very impressive photo equipment and an Audubon tee shirt on said that the bird flying over was a northern harrier, so I started shooting.  Not the greatest picture but it’s the best one I got.  Something new to me.03-20-20daytripnorthernharrier.jpgWhile Limpkins aren’t new to me they aren’t all the easy to spot.  And I wonder if this one had dredged up his favorite dinner, an apple snail?  Can’t say for sure.03-20-20daytriplimpkin.jpgBut the last, and most unexpected, photo of the day is this last one.  I was on a boardwalk when some kids started talking about the wild pig they were seeing across the water.  And sure enough there he was.  03-20-20daytrippig.jpgThere are still a lot of photos to go through, but it seems that time at home will be there order of the day from now on, so that’s really a good thing.  Hope everyone has things to keep them busy, and to keep them calm and happy while we watch events unfold.

'scene' along the way, adventure, changing times, friends, leap of faith, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, reality check, road trip

Day trip…

The plan had been in place for a while.  A trip to the Venice rookery was how it had started, and then I tossed out the idea that we could stop at the causeway bridge for sunset photos. on the way back   I wanted another chance at taking photos there because I had been so unhappy with my first ones, and my friend had always wanted to go to that bridge and didn’t know where it was.  So we made a plan, set a date. and in the meantime we ‘leaped ahead’, time wise.  Now there were more hours to fill, so we added in the Myakka River State park, which is only a half hour from the Venice rookery.  It was a beautiful day to be outside, and I have 913 photos to go through, minus the feature photo.

By the time the day arrived the news that had been breaking about the Coronavirus had us wondering if we should cancel.  But what we had planned was all open air and we knew we’d see people in small family units only, and so we went.  Traffic was very light, it’s obvious people are heeding the warnings, and I do feel a little guilty for going.  So I won’t be heading out for anything like this again for the duration.  But I am happy to have 912 photos to keep me busy for a while.

'scene' along the way, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, live and learn, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, sunset

Finding our way home…

What we had been deciding, before we took our little side trip to find the lost hiker, was whether to head to Eagle’s Nest or to just call it a day.  Imagine driving the pot-holed trails that you see in the feature photo, and coming across a person in full scuba gear.  It came as a surprise to me, but the signage told the story.

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Exploring the underwater cave system is for experts only, with the proper equipment and experience.  Another mysterious natural world right underfoot, something you would never in a million years expect to be there.  Unfortunately the area has been underestimated with a certain degree of regularly over the years.  Of the 14 people who have died here in recent history it is the father and son who went out on Christmas Day with their brand new equipment and never returned that tugs at my heartstrings.

This is the view that greets you as you arrive at Eagle’s Nest…03-03-20chassnestview.jpg

Divers told us that the no-see-ums were out in force, but we were aware of the time and knew that we would have to head back before they closed the road at dusk, so they didn’t get to feast on us for long.  But the drive back to the entrance took longer than it would have if Mother Nature hadn’t been teasing us with a beautiful sunset.  There was so much purple in the sky, if you see it in the photos it’s completely natural.  We shot photos out the car window every time the view brought us to a halt.  The view and the pot holes in the road, I’m not sure which stopped us more often.  When I headed out the door to join Betty and Linda on this adventure I had no clue what to expect, but I did know that we’d have fun, we always do.

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'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, nature, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

Chassahowitzka with friends…

I headed north to join my friends Betty and Linda for a hike in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge yesterday.  It is a vast, 30843 acre, of preserved wilderness area encompassing four of the coastal counties in the area I call home.  They volunteer at the Chinsegut Conservation Center and have become quite knowledgeable about the history of the area.  The point of our hike was to find an area they had been to on a guided hike a while back, wanting to see the area again without a big group of hikers.  That the hike began with us looking for the particular tree that would mark the spot to go off the trail and into the woods didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, I had faith in them that we would in fact find our way back to the cars at the end of the day.

We were in search of the ruins of a thriving community that existed here from the years 1910-1917.  It was built around a logging company, and these are the remains of the actual logging business and mill that worked the area.  In addition to this area there was a town nearby with neighborhoods populated with workers of various nationalities.  They had a small railroad to move the logs to market, plus there were houses, a post office, school, saloon, all the components of a community.  By 1917 all the usable trees in the area had been cut and the people moved on, taking as much of their building material as they could, to be reused as they rebuilt in a new area.  In the 100 years since they left Mother Nature has reasserted herself, with help, and leaving not much to mark this time in history.03-01-20woodsruins03-01-20woodsruins203-01-20woodsruins503-01-20woodsruins6Some of where we hiked yesterday had been underwater when they had been there before.  The area is spring fed and there is water just off the road in a lot of the area.  Water and the creatures who live there, such as an alligator they dubbed Nestor, who they thought was a male until she had 16 babies last year.  As we hiked I had to wonder where she and her babies might be lurking as we took pictures.03-01-20woodsruins303-01-20woodsruins4I, for one, would not want to be lost on these trails.  Once we got back to the car we did something we don’t usually do, we sat and talked at a picnic table, deciding where to go next.  We were aware of a woman who was waiting for her 84 year old friend and his Jack Russel terrier to return to his car.  She was calling his cell phone, but she suspected that he’d left his phone in the car.  He had been gone quite a while, she said, and it was now 4 PM and with only a couple of hours of daylight left we offered to drive the roads to see if we could find him while she waited by the car in case he came back.  We drove a long way, I was afraid that if he had fallen we may have driven right by him, and we all suspected that surely a man his age wouldn’t have walked that far.  But Linda said that something told her not to turn around, to keep going, because this road was not traveled by many visitors who might come across him to help.  And the story has a happy ending because sure enough, we found him.  He was fine and still walking, but boy was he happy to see us.  He had gotten lost, and the trail he was on would eventually loop back to the parking area, but not for another five or so miles.  Don’t you just love a happy ending.  I do…03-01-20woodsbuddy

His name was Kenny and he said he learned a big lesson from this experience.  Always keep your phone with you.  Good advice.