Monday, March 21, 2016

Wild Things to Wildwood


After the Everglades, we camped at Monument Lake on the Tamiami Trail. It was a wonderful surprise. We found the sites to be nicely situated around the lake, spacious and reasonably priced. In addition, we had more experiences of the local wildlife.


The first afternoon, we saw 11-12 Northern Bobwhite come out of the edge of the site. It was my first time to see a covey of these birds and we saw them twice each day during our camping time.


Another time, we had a visit from this Cottonmouth that crawled out of the edge of the field almost right where the Bobwhites came through our site.


There is a black spot behind the eye that helped us identify the snake.  We used our binoculars to get a good close-up!

The purpose of staying five days at Monument Lake was a chance to visit The Big Cypress National Preserve.


It has been a place we love to visit each year, to walk the various boardwalks. This pristine area is the home of some virgin Cypress trees. It always gives me the feeling of walking in the Garden of Eden.



Sunset from our site at Monnument Lake


We ventured to Walmart in Naples for our next one night overnight stop. We wanted to visit the Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Center to have a chance to take a peak at a Painted Bunting.


We always spend part of a day walking the 2.25 mile board walk looking for anything and everything.


We found the special-named Cypress trees...


And the Alligator Flag.


In addition to the Painted Bunting, we also saw Strap, Swamp and Boston Ferns, and we saw a 12-foot alligator floating toward a Little Blue Heron.

Next stop was our annual visit with Latona's stepdaughter's family.  They show us wonderful hospitality and we ALWAYS enjoy spending special time with them. We saw some wonderful movies, shared some music, and had a special spiritual time on Sunday morning. We love our chance to see Janet and Haley, Bubba, as well as Debbie and Linden. Thank you!

And we had a chance to see the Gopher Tortoise who resides near their yard.



Next stop was a visit at Myakka River State Park for an afternoon.  I was hoping to find Black Necked Stilts at the birding spot?  There is an app called "Birds Near Me" that I used to see if this bird was there.  Indeed it was, and I had a chance to see it.
I

We also caught a shot of a Sandhill Crane family...

                                        
     
We ended the day when we arrived at the home of our special friends Pat and Jean. They invited us for a five day visit and we happily agreed. We loved swimming in their pool, watching movies and eating and drinking!  They also planned several day adventures for us.


One stop was the Venice Rookery. We saw lots of nests and many babies.  Here is one sample -
a parent and some baby Great Egrets.


We visited Oscar Scherer SP where we found our heart for the day.  An ant hill in the familiar shape.


Our final day with Pat and Jean, we made a stop that left quite an impression - our visit to the MacDill Air Force Base.  Pat is retired military and took us there to see this facility. It was quite impressive. Much to my surprise we found a wonderful collection of birds on the beach.  Here are a few shots...

      The Laughing Gull
      
                
     
Black Skimmers


Forsters Gulls - mostly juveniles or those in winter plumage and the special unexpected ones, 
Marble Godwits. 

                          
      
So many wonderful things created beauty and adventure for us over these past few weeks. 
     Now we are here with Mom and Chick in Wildwood hoping to be gifts to them.

We are given gifts every day!
Sometimes it is a gift from nature!
Sometimes it is a gift from friends and family!
Always, it is the gift of love and partnership I have been given named Latona!

Wild Things to Wildwood


After the Everglades, we camped at Monument Lake on the Tamiami Trail. It was a wonderful surprise. We found the sites to be nicely situated around the lake, spacious and reasonably priced. In addition, we had more experiences of the local wildlife.


The first afternoon, we saw 11-12 Northern Bobwhite come out of the edge of the site. It was my first time to see a covey of these birds and we saw them twice each day during our camping time.


Another time, we had a visit from this Cottonmouth that crawled out of the edge of the field almost right where the Bobwhites came through our site.


There is a black spot behind the eye that helped us identify the snake.  We used our binoculars to get a good close-up!

The purpose of staying five days at Monument Lake was a chance to visit The Big Cypress National Preserve.


It has been a place we love to visit each year, to walk the various boardwalks. This pristine area is the home of some virgin Cypress trees. It always gives me the feeling of walking in the Garden of Eden.



Sunset from our site at Monnument Lake


We ventured to Walmart in Naples for our next one night overnight stop. We wanted to visit the Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Center to have a chance to take a peak at a Painted Bunting.


We always spend part of a day walking the 2.25 mile board walk looking for anything and everything.


We found the special-named Cypress trees...


And the Alligator Flag.


In addition to the Painted Bunting, we also saw Strap, Swamp and Boston Ferns, and we saw a 12-foot alligator floating toward a Little Blue Heron.

Next stop was our annual visit with Latona's stepdaughter's family.  They show us wonderful hospitality and we ALWAYS enjoy spending special time with them. We saw some wonderful movies, shared some music, and had a special spiritual time on Sunday morning. We love our chance to see Janet and Haley, Bubba, as well as Debbie and Linden. Thank you!

And we had a chance to see the Gopher Tortoise who resides near their yard.



Next stop was a visit at Myakka River State Park for an afternoon.  I was hoping to find Black Necked Stilts at the birding spot?  There is an app called "Birds Near Me" that I used to see if this bird was there.  Indeed it was, and I had a chance to see it.
I

We also caught a shot of a Sandhill Crane family...

                                        
     
We ended the day when we arrived at the home of our special friends Pat and Jean. They invited us for a five day visit and we happily agreed. We loved swimming in their pool, watching movies and eating and drinking!  They also planned several day adventures for us.


One stop was the Venice Rookery. We saw lots of nests and many babies.  Here is one sample -
a parent and some baby Great Egrets.


We visited Oscar Scherer SP where we found our heart for the day.  An ant hill in the familiar shape.


Our final day with Pat and Jean, we made a stop that left quite an impression - our visit to the MacDill Air Force Base.  Pat is retired military and took us there to see this facility. It was quite impressive. Much to my surprise we found a wonderful collection of birds on the beach.  Here are a few shots...

      The Laughing Gull
      
                
     
Black Skimmers


Forsters Gulls - mostly juveniles or those in winter plumage and the special unexpected ones, 
Marble Godwits. 

                          
      
So many wonderful things created beauty and adventure for us over these past few weeks. 
     Now we are here with Mom and Chick in Wildwood hoping to be gifts to them.

We are given gifts every day!
Sometimes it is a gift from nature!
Sometimes it is a gift from friends and family!
Always, it is the gift of love and partnership I have been given named Latona!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wild Things #3

A few pieces to bring together.  
Alligators...we learned a few things about gators that I will share just because it will also help me rememberšŸ˜

Some informal facts: They can live up to 40 years in the wild and can grow to ten to fifteen feet, but the females usually don't grow past nine feet.  The mother can lay from 30 -50 eggs on a nest made of decaying organic matter that will naturally heat the nest.  The cooler eggs will become females and the hotter eggs will become males.  The female will protect the hatching from one to three years from predators. 

The alligator is cold-blooded so it must control body temps by using the sun and or the water.  The scutes, armour plates, on the top act as solar shields and help to maintain the body heat.  Although the gator only eats every week or two, it must have a body temp of 82 degrees for the food to digest. The jaw of an alligator has the strength of 2000 pounds so can easily crush a large turtle or bone material.

Another thing we learned about was something called Periphyton. The sign explains the nature and importance of this substance.  We were encouraged to feel it, squeeze it and smell it! The stuff of life.


Some fun miscellaneous items...
We saw a flock of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers around the gate into the park.  A real thrill!


Red-bellied Woodpecker
                                  
Brown Thrasher

We saw this sign in lots of places. Watch out for the vultures!

Mangroves around West Lake



Paurotis Pond

One Dwarf Bald Cypress on the "river of grass"


Tone on the Manogany Hammock Boardwalk


A wonderful view over the Everglades


Well, we saw three rattlesnakes going in and out of our campground.  The weather turned  hot during our second week and it really brought out more birds and snakes. This snake is warming itself on the tar of the road.  We saw a much bigger one the day before but missed the picture. It really is beautiful. 

The sunset on the final night at Long Pine from our site.  We had enjoyed an amazing two weeks in this wonderful place.

There was a thrill in being here that I can only hope you capture from some of the pictures. 
My heart sings!


I am so grateful for this wonderful National Park and as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NPS (August 25, 2016) I want to extend my gratitude to all the visionaries who created these areas with their dreams, resources and ideals, to all the staff who protect and educate each generation, and in particular, to the volunteers who make many of these wild places continue to thrive.