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