Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cedar Key, FL

While in Cedar Key, I didn’t actually stay on the island.  I stayed at Cedar Key RV Resort.  It had paved sites, which was great because they had a huge ant problem.  Lots of ants, not huge ants!!

While there, I visited the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge several times.  One day I visited Shirred Island.  It was a great bird watching location.  I met a few people who were bird watching and learned a couple of new birds.   A nice beach too--

One of my favorite day trips was to Manatee Springs State Park.  There is a boardwalk that leads to the area where the Manatee’s  had been spotted recently.  The view from the boardwalk was great. 

The Manatees -

OK, I didn’t take the above picture.   Actually I did, but it is part of a sign about the manatees.

While it is a bit hard to see, there are at least 5 manatees in the picture above.  At this time, there were about 9 manatees in the area.   Many of my pictures just look like water.  Depending on the sun, waves… the view was not always that good.   Below are 3 manatees-

There were a lot of vultures at the park.  They seemed to pose for the people with cameras.

If there during warmer weather, I could have gone into Manatee Springs, but it was a bit cool for that.

From 50 – 150 million gallons of water flows from the springs each day. 

From Cedar Key, I headed to Saint George State Park.  This is one of my favorite state parks. 

Hillsborough River State Park

I thought that I was going to finally catch up on my blog a few weeks ago.  I picked out the pictures for my next 3 stops after South Bay and that’s usually the hardest part!  Then I just didn’t do it.  Anyway, I am going to see if I can do a few of these in the next few days.  That may be hard as I am also researching where I am going next and that’s not as easy as it sounds!!

After South Bay, I went to Hillsborough River State Park.  I had been to the park a couple of times before, so this was not a new park for me.  Not far from my site was a trail that lead to the major trails at the park.  I ended up walking these most mornings for my morning walk.   A typical view from the trail is below-

I biked most days on some off-road trails.  One day I took a “shortcut” that I remembered taking a few years ago.  It was either rougher or I am just getting old and things hurt a bit more.  Ok, probably both!!  But it was still fun!!  Below is a view from one of my bike trips.

On one of my morning walks, I saw a red shouldered hawk.  He was only about 15 feet from me and stayed there while I took pictures.  When I went for my nicer camera he flew away. 


I didn’t notice he was behind the spider web until I saw the picture.   On the same hike, I saw a limpkin looking for food in the river.

From here, I continued North and ended up at Cedar Key. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

South Bay, FL (Lake Okeechobee) – Part 2

One day I visited the southern end of the Everglades.  I started the day by going to the Anhinga Trail.  If you ever go the Everglades and only have time for one thing, I would suggest this short trail.  I enjoyed this trail so much that I went back and walked it again later the same day.

The first thing that got my attention was a sign in the parking lot.

And just around the corner, I saw this -

I didn’t see any damage, but could see how it could happen.

I have seen Anhingas before, but saw several nesting on this trail.

Great Blue Heron -

I saw several Green Herons -

I don’t know what this Green Heron was doing, but it was interesting to watch.

Wood Stork -

I also enjoyed the landscape -

And the trees with air plants on them-

In the morning, many of the alligators were swimming around.  By the afternoon most were sunning. (with Black vultures beside them)

Some gators were nice enough to give the tourist a great view.

That same day I went to Flamingo, another part of the Everglades.  There I saw for the first time American Crocodiles.  

In walking around the marina in the Flamingo area I saw an Osprey just 20 feet or so above the dock. 

Brown Pelican -

In my Tierra Verde, Fl blog, I posted a picture and asked if anyone knew what it was.  Sherry was first and right – sorry, no prize.  It was a Manatee nose.   The picture in that blog and the first one below was taken while I was out on the dock and the Manatee was just a few feet below me.

From South Bay, I headed to Hillsborough River State Park. 

South Bay, FL (Lake Okeechobee) – Part 1

I stayed at South Bay RV Campground for several weeks in January and February.  South Bay is the southern end of Lake Okeechobee.  The campground is just beside the levee that goes all around the lake – about 110 miles!!.  In most places there is a walking/biking trail on the levee (paved or packed dirt). I enjoyed walking almost every morning and riding 12 – 20 miles most days.  

I really didn’t know much about this area.  I choose this campground because it was one of the cheaper with good reviews in area and was within an hour or so of several things I wanted to do.  I had no idea that they raised sugar cane in the area.  I also didn’t know they burn it as part of the process.  (they burn the dead leaves and trash before harvesting)

The picture above shows the levee, bike trail and smoke where they were burning in 2 different fields.  Several times the wind was blowing in the “wrong” direction and we had black ash in the park.

Any fairly flat surface ended up with ash, including the tire cover on the back of my RV.

I enjoy walking early in the morning and saw several nice sunrises while on the levee.  Below is a shot of the campground from the levee.

Several mornings a crop duster was dusting nearby fields.  Those who sleep late probably didn’t enjoy it!  Below is the plane just over the campground. 

One day I went to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.  I was surprised by the unexploded ordnance sign. 

While biking the levee, I noticed a couple of Bald Eagles and a few days later saw the nest.   I checked it out most days looking for eaglets, but no luck.  On the day I was leaving the park, I decided to bike one last time and I was glad I did!!

Mom or Dad making sure I didn’t get too close!

I had to include both pictures so you can get a good view of the nest.  On the left side of the nest is what appears to be breakfast – a fish!  I guess dad had already been fishing that morning.  I stayed about 15 – 20 minutes just watching the baby eagle poke his head up out of the nest. 

One of the day trips I took was to Shark’s Valley in the Everglades.  I had gone in December, but wanted to go back.  I am very glad I did.  There was less water, so the birding was much better.

It’s funny to watch people bike so close to alligators.  Some get nervous and walk the bike, others basically ignore the gators. 

One of many swimming alligators, I like this picture because of the abstract looking water caused by the shadows and moving water. 

I saw a lot of baby alligators this trip.  I also saw a bird I had never seen before.  A Purple Gallinule -

As soon as he got the flower (or seed head) he flew away!

I couldn’t decide if this gator was grinning at me or the Purple Gallinule.

Another day trip I took was to the southern part of the Everglades.  That is part 2 of my South Bay blog.