By Linda November 27, 2018
We arrived outside the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday afternoon. We set up camp and left to visit the refuge and promptly got lost. There aren’t that many roads around here to get lost. I forgot the maps and I tried to rely on my memory and signs. Our GPS was useless. I used the phone for navigation and that’s how we wound up on dirt roads. The GPS showed us driving through the woods. We wound up at Wekulla Beach at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. It was fine, but we wanted to be at the lighthouse. We enjoyed the tour anyway.
We visited the Lighthouse area of the refuge on Monday morning. It was overcast and showed signs of thunderstorms coming our way. We were able to spend several hours before we decided to get out before the rain started. As soon as we got back to the RV and got inside, the rain started.
The rain brought very cold weather. We woke up to temperatures in the 30’s. That’s very cold for Florida. We braved the low temperatures to go back and visit the refuge today before sunrise. While Regis kept the car running with the heater on, I got out and looked for birds in the scope. When I got too cold, I jumped back in the car. The thing I needed the most today was a pair of gloves. I wish I had brought my winter coat.
We came back for lunch to warm up and went back out this afternoon. We thought the alligators would be too cold to come out, but we saw several lying in the sun trying to warm up. There are some big ones out there.
We never went kayaking. I don’t know why we bother to bring the kayaks. Monday it rained and today was so cold there was no way I could kayak without the right clothing. We are headed back home tomorrow.
November 24, 2018
While Regis did most of the packing for the short camping trip we are leaving on tomorrow, I went birding. It was a great deal for me.
We are headed to see the St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge. We should be able to do some kayaking. We are only staying a few days. The campground host warned us that the space we are camping in is tough to get into with a rig like ours but doable. Since Regis is the one who has to do it, it’s not stopping us.
When Regis went to pack the RV this morning, he found that the radio is dead. That’s how we view the cameras, like the backup camera. We’re going to go on this short trip anyway and Regis will repair it when we get back. Regis thinks that there may have been a lightning strike near the RV that toasted the radio.
For those of you who know that Dart had some surgery last Wednesday, I’ll give an update. Dart had a small tumor in his mouth and they removed it on Wednesday. He came home ready to play. He’s been eating well and driving us crazy, so we know his recovery period was almost zero. I did have them send it out for a biopsy and I will get the results next week. I think he acts too healthy to have anything wrong, so I’m sure the results will come out ok.
November 18, 2018
Regis and I went birding at the Saltmarsh yesterday and saw lots of birds. We saw four different birds of prey: Bald Eagle, Osprey, Red-tailed hawk, and Northern Harrier. While standing on the dock at the intracoastal waterway (ICW), I looked across the ICW at the GTM Reserve to watch all the bird activity. Regis called that a manatee had just surfaced. It turned out to be four manatees cruising by the dock. There was a baby in the group! They were so close, I couldn’t get a picture with my long lens until they got further away. I suppose they are migrating to warmer waters. There were lots of boats headed south on the ICW also. The manatees were hugging the shore and I hope they do that the whole way so they don’t get run over by those boats.
I took Regis birding with me at the same place I saw the leucistic Blue-gray Gnatcatcher last Monday and Regis found it again. How cool is that??
Following are some favorite bird pictures from the last few bird hikes.
By Linda November 13, 2018
I’ve been spending some time birding in the area lately in preparation for the Christmas Bird Count. I plan to participate and I’m trying to get a handle on the local birds I might see. I have lived here 3 years, so I’m still learning.
I recently went to a local storm water management facility with two friends to do some birding. It was an amazing place to bird. It also shows the wonderful outcomes when you use natural ways to deal with storm water issues. The facility creates a wonderful wetland that attracts a large variety of birds.
The coolest bird we saw while we were there is a Leucistic Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. According to Wikepedia, the definition is leucism ” is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes.”
Here are some pictures of a regular Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and our leucistic Gnatcatcher. We identified 41 birds while we were there in one area. Here is a link to an area of our website that includes other bird photos from that trip.
I also hang out at our local saltmarsh regularly. It is very beautiful. Every time I go, the weather, lighting, and clouds are different so you get a different feel for the area.
Regis, Dart, and I are planning an adventure to another part of Florida in early December. As long as the motor home hasn’t been sold, we intend to enjoy it!
By Linda (November 9, 2018)
I love Wood Storks. They are ancient looking and beautiful in their own way. This stork was hanging out by the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation center hoping there would be fish available. If the Ark has more fish than they need for their current patients, the extra fish are tossed to the birds waiting outside who are happy to quickly dispose of the leftovers.
I went to the marsh again this morning to watch the sunrise. It was particularly beautiful. Following are some favorite pictures. I also got a confirmed siting of my first Clapper Rail. I’ve heard them many times, but they have eluded me and I have never see one. Not only did I see one today, but I got a picture too!
What!? That’s right, we are selling the RV. I think a big part of this decision is the fact that Dart is getting older. While he is very excited to go hiking, he just can’t go more than a mile or two unless its cold. Hiking was really the only activity all three of us could do together while we’re on the road. Linda and I are NOT the type of RVers who just sit around the campground.
As you know through this blog we like traveling, taking pictures and sharing the experience. We are not sure what we will be doing. Much depends on actually selling the RV. When that is gone we can explore what options we have to do the things we want to do.
So here’s the pitch. If you, or anyone you know, are interested in RVing we have a great one for sale.
The motorhome is stored in St. Augustine, Florida. The asking price is $149,000. If interested, please email email@example.com.
October 22, 2018
We’ve been enjoying watching the fall migration here in northeast Florida. I have seen many flocks of Ibis passing through. I love the long curved bill of the Ibis and enjoying watching them feed by our local bodies of water.
I recently went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and saw a large group of Ibis feeding together. I got some video.
I also saw a small flock of Roseate Spoonbills during a recent Hawkwatch.
October 18, 2018
Last Sunday, we kayaked on the Matanzas River near the Matanzas Inlet. The river meets the ocean at the inlet. It was a beautiful day, so there were lots of folks out enjoying the water. That meant there were lots of boats. I would not kayak that particular area again on a week-end with good weather. There were too many boats and a couple times I thought I was going to get run over.
There were lots of dogs enjoying boating. I can’t see Dart enjoying the water and boating like the dogs we saw today.
I often see dolphins in this area, but I think they wisely stayed away with all the human activity. We got a nice view of a Reddish Egret and lots of Pelicans.
October 6, 2018
We’ve been back a month and we didn’t get out kayaking until a few days ago. We kayaked on Guana Lake in the late afternoon. We saw some drama with an Eagle and an Osprey.
I’ve been volunteering in several capacities but recently started to help out at a local rehabber. As a result, I got a few pictures of the birds being rehabilitated and the birds hanging out outside the facility hoping for a handout. It’s been rewarding.