Saturday, March 24, 2012

This one is for you, Charlie & Nila

We thought we had finished with birds but we visited the Sarasota Jungle Gardens and just had to do one more blog with birds and dedicate this one to Charlie and Nila, friends from Michigan.  Remember, they are the couple who has this "thing" for Pink Flamingos.

This was a beautiful Garden with lots of rescue animals from around the world, but the most fun was being able to feed and touch these magnificent large birds.  We came around the bend to find a flock of them waiting to have their picture taken (and be fed by the visitors).

And these two preening their feathers so they looked pretty for us (and you).

All you had to do was open the bag of feed and here they come.

One eating from her hand and one picking up what was being dropped.

With a beak like this it was hard for them to get but a couple of pieces at a time.

Dick got a chance to feed a few.

"You think I am sleeping but I am really watching you, watching me."

Nap time for most and while they are at it why not do it on one leg.

Our last and final picture of a Brown Pelican.

As we walked by this Laughing Gull it would not fly away so you know what we had to do.

The same thing with this Common Moorhen.

Enough for the birds, we'll switch to a very beautiful tree that we found all over the place.  We decided that this is called Bottle Brush and it has a very delicate series of red flowers.

And finally we had to share this guy towing his own personal toilet holding tank rather than a complete RV.  Well we thought it was funny.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Birds of the Everglades NP #2, Slough Slog

As promised, our Blog takes us back to the Birds of the Everglades National Park #2 where we got up early in the morning one day to find Eco Pond where we had been told there are lots of birds in the mornings.  About 25 miles from our camp we had to stop at another pond where we found it mostly full of birds searching for breakfast.

What a sight to see and what a smell. We took a few pictures here as the sun was in the wrong position and could not get the results that Dick wanted, so it was off to Eco Pond.

When we finally found Eco Pond with an island in the middle and a trail around the perimeter, it was also full of birds of all description.  What a rare opportunity to see and shoot a sight like this.

So many birds it was hard to isolate and shoot a single bird, but Dick did get a few of them on film (digital).  We could just hear this Roseate Spoonbill saying "OK I am looking now shoot".

This cute little Black-Necked Stilt kept saying "please take my picture", so we did.

Dick got lots of pictures of the Spoonbills so we could dedicate them to our Montana RV friends, Charlie and Nila who collect Flamingo items; well these are close, as they are all pink.

Spoonbill and Snowy Egret complete with reflections.

And a Spoonbill in flight, wow what a sight with a 50" wingspan and about 32" long.

Story time again: while walking along a trail we found this guy resting just out of the water and about 3' from the edge of the trail.  Dick thought he must be asleep so if he kneels down he will get a good shot at a very low angle rather than shooting down like all the other pictures.

Dick was keeping one eye on the view finder and the other open and watching the gaiter while down on both knees about 3' in front of this guy.  Dick was really quick to shoot the shot and get the heck out of there when he noticed the gaiter caulking his back leg to spring. 

Another day another interesting hike in the Everglades.  We want to say swamp but there is no swamp here, just very slow moving water.  There is only a 14" drop in elevation from the top of the park to the Gulf of Mexico.  The Ranger led tour is called a Slough Slog.  We signed up and off we went with a few other people.  The only requirements were tied shoes, long pants and the ability to hike about a mile in water and very soft surface.  Our objective was to hike out to the hammock full of trees and water.

The closer we got the deeper the water got, but only about 12" deep in the deepest areas.  What a beautiful place to see what nature has offered for us to view.

Every place you looked the trees are filled with air plants.

Got a smile from Jackie to share with our friends. 

One last picture to share is one of the many air plants just starting to bloom.  We feel very fortunate to be able to share this beautiful place with you, so hope you enjoy.

On the 11th of this month we shared a very special date between us, our 35th wedding anniversary. and to those who wished us Congratulations on our Facebook pages we want to thank you all.  We celebrated with friends (thanks Ronda & Bruce) by going to the Strawberry Festival and seeing Reba McIntyre in concert.  Had cheap seats (free, actually, with admission to the festival), but enjoyed the concert immensely.
To be continued...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birds of the Everglades National Park, part 1

Wow, what a place is Everglades National Park, and did you know that it's full of birds?  We found so many that we will have to share them in more than one Blog posting.  We would like to dedicate this Blog to our good friends Grant and Kathy Webb, who have followed our blog with lots of comments.

We arrived at the park and found a beautiful campsite at Long Pine Key campground.  It was dry camping (no power, water or septic) but with our full water tank and solar on the roof we can go about 2 weeks off the grid.  We made a visit to the visitors center where we found this "EVERGLADES" sign.

Before heading out and touring the park it was time to sit back and relax in our huge grassy site at the campground.  Jackie enjoying her Kindle Fire with free library books and C C getting a hard earned nap.

While sitting relaxing Dick looked up to find this guy sitting in a tree next to us.  The Northern Cardinal stayed with us for about 2 minutes and then off he went. 

In another area of the park we found this large Wood Stork, a beautiful bird with an ugly head wading around looking for it's next meal.  And it got a big frog.

The Great Blue Heron is about 42" long with a wing span reaching 72".

It was interesting watching this ugly but majestic Black Vulture sharing a meal with ducks (not pictured).

The Great Egret when breeding has long plumes trailing from its back, extending beyond the tail.  Very fine detailed plumage.

We decided that this was a Double-Crested Cormorant,  it has a hook on the bill top.

Not sure if Little Blue Heron is eating a snake or what but it looks to be over a foot long and way too big around to fit, but he kept trying to get it down.  Gave up watching before he finished.

One of Dick's favorite birds, besides Hawks, is the Anhinga because of it's beautiful white over black wings.  Like someone did a pin striping job on them.  The Anhinga can control its buoyancy and often swims with its body submerged and only its head above water.  Regularly dips its eyes below the surface as it hunts.  Spears fish with its long, sharp bill, then tosses them into the air to catch and swallow.

Later while walking the docks in the NP we came across what we thought was an injured bird stretched out next to a Sea Gull.  Dick had to walk over to check it out but as he got closer it slowly stood up and said stay away from me.

Doing some research we found that the Black Skimmer often rests completely prostrate, with the head and neck lying on the ground; who knew?  He was not happy that we woke him up.

Part 2 of Birds of Florida to come and our Slough Slog pictured below.  Note that we are standing in the water next to a gaiter hole.  Such fun!

To be continued...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A week in the Keys of Florida...

One of our camping memberships allowed us to spend a week for free at a campground (resort) half way down the Florida Keys saving us $120 per night, so off we went to see the SE corner of this great Country.  It was in the mid to high 80s in the day and cooled to around 75 at night with very high humidity.
From the resort each evening we could have cocktails at sunset point and watch, what else, but the sunset.

The Bay on one side of the road and the Atlantic on the other, both showed off the beautiful colors of the water.  As the depths of the water varies the colors change along with it to all shades of blue.

We spent a half of one day out on the ocean on Jackie's first fishing trip where she caught her first fish and then shared a relaxing trip back to shore watching the sunset again while sitting on the bow of the boat in shorts and T shirts.

And another day we drove the 70 miles to the end of the Keys to visit Key West Florida.  While there we ran across this piece of artwork or as Dick said "another use for shells off the beach". 
This is mile 0 or the start of Highway 1 that goes all the way up the east coast.  This marks the last of the corners of the United States that we have visited, but still have more between these points to see.

And just down the road is the most South Eastern point of land in the United States where it's only 90 miles to Cuba.  There was a line of about 30 people waiting to have their picture taken standing in front of the marker, so we grabbed a photo and off we went to see more of Key West.

Walking around town you never know what you will find.  Never did go in to see what they are selling here.

A shot looking down one of the main streets, in the evening this town fills up with all the night people.

Again another shot of some of the strange things you find in this town.

It's winter here but there are a lot of very beautiful flowers in full bloom.  You have your choice of colors, yellow to...


Not only the flowers are great but you can find all colors of fish.

This guy (giant lobster) you can see from Google Earth, but we had to find it and check out the shops to find a painting for my sister. 

The keys are over 100 miles of one tourist trap after another but still a beautiful place to visit.  We did look at some property here but it's a little (lot) out of our price range.

We are out of the Keys and have spent another week dry camping in Long Pine Key campground in Everglades National Park so stay tuned for the next blog and the birds of the Everglades, plus other pictures.  We also took our kayak out in the Everglades and spent some time on the bikes.

To be continued...