Butterfly and Bumblebees

Black Swallowtail

I enjoy watching the bumblebees and butterflies visit the purple Salvia’s in my backyard. Although I have other flowers, the Salvias are clearly a hit. Yesterday I spent some time trying to photograph as the clouds rolled in but before the rains came. It made for better lighting for pictures.

Black Swallowtail

After taking closeup photographs like these, I enjoy seeing details that I can’t see with my naked eyes. You can see the proboscis probing into the flower.

Black Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail

The bumblebees are always very busy with these flowers. I’m glad the Salvias are in constant bloom.

I love the wing movement in this picture while the bee is still.

Lots of Swallow-tailed Kites

Swallow-tailed Kites

We went to Fisheating Creek in Florida in hopes of seeing the Swallow-tailed Kites. About half the eastern population of Kites congregate in the area for a couple days near the end of July in preparation for their flight to South America.

We didn’t see a single Kite on our drive down. When we got to the Fisheating Creek campground, I asked the girl who checked us in about the Kites. She didn’t know what I was talking about. An irony is the campground has a swallow tail in their logo! Looked like we were on our own to find them.

The Fisheating Creek area is primarily within a Wildlife Management Area that is not very accessible (which is a good thing!). In the morning, we tried kayaking toward the upper creek and didn’t see any Kites. The scenery was beautiful with all the Cypress Trees and knees. In the afternoon, we drove around the area on some of the few roads available and did not see any Kites.

I thought we missed them. On our last full day (July 24), we planned to drive to Lake Okeechobee and see if we could get some views of the lake. We found that’s hard to do since it is almost completely surrounded by a dike and few public roads will get you over the dike.

Not far from the campground, on our way to the Lake, we both spotted a few Swallow-tailed Kites soaring above the highway. We pull into a turn around in the median strip and saw a lot more Swallow-tailed Kites heading our way. We stayed for probably half hour in the median strip and saw hundreds and hundreds of them pass by over head. Yes, literally hundreds, like 500, 600 700! lots! Talk about a gift of the day! It could have been a boring a highway drive and we could have easily driven right by the spot. You really need to be open about your surroundings and not mindlessly go from point A to point B.

In our travels we have seen many things, if we had not been open to stoping and investigating, we would not have ever known of their existance.

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
Swallow-tailed Kite by Regis
Lots of Swallow-tailed Kites.

The moon was overhead. Several times I got a view of a Kite with the moon in the background. So cool!

Swallow-tailed Kite with moon in the background

As if that wasn’t enough good stuff for the day, we saw a Crested Caracara during our exploration of the area after we left the Kites.

Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway).

The mornings are clear and you can literally watch the clouds form during the day. There were horrendous downpours every afternoon. I took 267 pictures, one every 10 seconds. Regis put them together into a video.

On the last morning there we went at the same time at the same spot where we saw the Kites and saw only about 50 Kites. Clearly, the big day was the day before. We don’t know if they were there the 23rd since we were in the wrong area to see them! Truly, when we saw them was a gift, and we took the time to stop and check them out. We stopped for a quick look and witnessed an amasizing sight.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). There were lots of vultures in the area.
A White-tailed Deer running away. It saw us before we saw it.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) by Regis

The black and white paperback version of our first book (The Gifts of the Day: Traveling and Camping With Dogs) is now available here. The premium version is available here.

Fisheating Creek

We recently went to southwest Florida to see the Swallow-tailed Kite migration to South America. We understood that the Kites are in the Fisheating Creek area around July 23 and 24. We had no idea where to look.

We arrived on the 22nd and set up camp just before the regular afternoon rains came through. We were the only other camper outside two extended stay guests. They likely work in the campground.

We weren’t sure where to look for the kites and realized very quickly we should have brought our kayaks. We rented kayaks on Tuesday morning in hopes of viewing the scenery and seeing a Kite.

We didn’t see any Kites but found the scenery was the most beautiful we have seen in Florida. There are numerous Cypress trees along the creek which are incredibly beautiful. We found one alligator along the way. Following is a video of parts of our excursion. I was hand holding the camera to video, so it’s a little shaky. I apologize.

We didn’t see any Swallow-tailed Kites on our trip, but it turns out we weren’t looking in the right place.

Our First eBook from Year 1

Regis and I have been working on a book documenting our first year on the road and including pro-tips and tricks for future adventurers. We finally finished an eBook and got it published today on Lulu.com. It is available for purchase at this site. http://www.lulu.com/shop/linda-and-regis-burek/the-gifts-of-the-day-traveling-and-camping-with-dogs/ebook/product-24169915.html

book cover photo

We are working on getting it available through other channels like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.

This is an eBook only at this time.

Gifts of the Day – St. Augustine

Everyday, I search for the gifts of the day. You never know what beautiful things life will reveal until you look for it.

Regis and I went kayaking today. We were able to kayak on the intracoastal waterway (ICW) in front of our house which is across the marsh from the ICW. I think it might be a quarter of a mile from our house across the marsh to the ICW.

It was a hot and still day. There was sometimes just a bit of a breeze which was welcome by both of us.

We saw a pelican successfully fishing and one standing on are marker.

We stopped to check out an oyster bar and a few Oystercatchers flew by. We don’t get to see them often. It’s hard to see them unless you are on the water. What a treat! And, I got them in focus!!

As we were leaving the kayak launch site, we saw some trash on the ground that made it clear that people shoot fireworks from this location. As we drove down the road we found ourselves cut off by Sheriff’s tape in two locations (which wasn’t there on the way in). We think it was put there to discourage folks from shooting off fireworks at the launch site but it made it interesting to get back home!

Alaska Trip Wrap Up

When my flight from Anchorage arrived in Seattle at 9:25 am, I headed to my son’s house.  I visited with him and we went to lunch.  When I got back, I couldn’t stay awake and nodded off for most of the afternoon.  I woke up in time to have an amazing dinner with my son and his partner at an incredible restaurant we could walk to.  I can see the advantages of living in the city because they have excellent local restaurants, a farmer’s market, a city park, and shopping places all within a few blocks of their house.  No need for a car! 

I took lots of video of the bears on the Alaskan trip and put together the following video of my favorite clips.  

Brown Bear video including cubs, mating, eating, and bathing.

The trip to Alaska was incredible and I highly recommend this particular trip to those who want to have a magical experience of the place.  Visit Lisa Langell’s website to sign up for next year’s Magic of Alaska tour and the Bear Extravaganza.  No photography skills or fancy gear required to have one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  

Alaska Day 10 – Fogged In

We were supposed to take off on bush planes on an early morning flight but we were fogged in and had to wait for the weather to clear both at our location and the airport on the Kenai Peninsula where the planes were located.  

Since we had to wait, we took one last bear viewing trip and were delighted to be surrounded by the two sows with cubs.  We had to choose whether to take pictures of the adorable twins or adorable triplets.  On the way back to the lodge, we passed another sow and two young cubs on the beach. It’s impossible to get enough baby bear viewing in.  They are delightful to watch, especially when they play.  

By early afternoon, it was obvious that I was not going to make it back in time for my flight out of Anchorage, so I used the satellite phone to reschedule from a 12:50 am flight to the 5:00 am flight.  

Since we had to wait so long, I had an opportunity to walk around the grounds and take pictures of the flowers and lodge. With the overcast sky, the flowers came out nice.

By early evening we were able to fly back to the Kenai Peninsula.  From the airport, we had to drive 45 minutes back to our lodge to pick up the luggage we left behind.  We were only allowed 40 pounds of gear on the bush planes.  Then, it was a 3.5 hour drive back to Anchorage.  There was a forest fire and road construction that caused a delay, so we took a back road to detour around the worst of it.  

It was midnight as we neared Anchorage and I was surprised to see how many people were on the road and stopping at the overlooks to take in the view.  There was sufficient light at midnight to do that.  It was crazy!

The airport was busy when I checked in at 1:00 a.m.  Most airports shut down at night and there is nothing open.  There was a Starbucks and a McDonalds open so I was able to get something to eat for dinner.  

By the time I got on my 5:00 am flight I was exhausted!