Ibis Highway

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Great Blue Heron

We have a wonderful campsite right on the water where we can watch the sunset.  We spent most of this morning sitting on our private deck and watching the wildlife activity.  We saw lots of Ibis flying by from left to right and right to left.  I tried to take pictures and I felt like I was on a skeet range except I was using a camera instead of a shotgun and I didn’t get to yell “pull”.  I haven’t figured out how to capture them yet but I will keep trying.  It’s good practice.

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Ibis in the oyster beds. We can’t seem to get a good picture of them flying.
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Willet (I think)
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Immature Little Blue Heron

We love it here.  It’s not crowded like most places south of Tampa but still has all the wildlife and water.  We put our kayaks in across the road from our campsite.  We just lugged them across the street.  We might have put in a little to early for the tide because we wound up scraping the bottoms of our kayaks on the oyster beds.  It was easier coming back.

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Great egret

I saw a new bird for me.  I believe it was a Black-necked stilt.  It’s a beautiful bird!  Of course, they all are.

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Black-necked stilt

We saw some large fish in the water.  They were slow and their tails and fins stuck up out of the water a lot.  They reminded me of carp but we don’t know what they were.  We were able to kayak out past the key to the gulf.  It wasn’t as interesting in the gulf, so we turned around and headed back to see more wildlife.  But, I did hear the calls of terns while out there but couldn’t see them.

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A fish fin sticking out of the water.

I was sitting in the motor home this evening talking to Jason when I saw lots of big splashing in the water in the distance.  It was not coming from birds diving in to fish.  After hanging up, I got out my binoculars and saw that it was a bunch of dolphins that appeared to be doing some cooperative fishing.  How cool!  Perhaps not for the fish.  We’re hoping to time our kayak trip for tomorrow to get a better look.  (We never get too close to wildlife.  We always give them plenty of room.  I don’t worry about whether I get the shot.  There is no reason to harass the wildlife to get a picture.)

I hit the jackpot on this campsite.  We couldn’t be happier with it.

 

Koreshan

It was time to move the motor home to keep every lubricated properly.  We took advantage of that need to head on a short adventure to southwest Florida.  We wanted to visit J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge again and chose Koreshan State Park in Estero as our campsite.  It was considerably less expensive than the local private campgrounds and it was very nice.  It is located on the Estero River, so we brought the kayaks.

The drive to Estero from St. Augustine was awful.  It’s rough getting through the Orlando area and Routes 95, 4, and 75 are always congested.  After we set up camp, we took the dog for a walk and I’m surprised that Dart didn’t wear out his sniffer on the walk.  It wasn’t long but Dart sniffed every square inch.  I was beginning to think we wouldn’t get back to the motorhome until nightfall.

The next morning we went on a hike through the historic site and found the biggest bamboo we have ever seen.  It sounded a little creepy with the wind blowing through the bamboo and causing them to make creaking noises.

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Linda and Dart with large bamboo in Koreshan State Historic Site.

After Dart’s walk, we put the kayaks in the Estero River at the campground and headed down river.  There are lots of houses along the river.  The river looks very dirty.  We only had to step in it to launch and then take the kayaks out of the water, but we hated stepping in it.

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Launching kayaks on the Estero River at Koreshan State Historic Site. That’s Linda checking out down river and Mango and Tango in the lower left corner.

It was an okay trip.  We saw someone paddle boarding with a beautiful husky.  We were hoping to kayak all the way to Estero Bay but it turned out to be further than we expected.  I was concerned about having the energy to return up river.  There isn’t much of a current, but you still have to paddle against whatever current there is.  We didn’t see many birds on the way downriver, but saw some on the way back.  The tide was lower on the way back, so it would have been easier for the birds to fish.

After we got back, we ate lunch and then headed to J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  It is only 18 miles from our campsite but took an hour to get there.  It was worth it!!  There were lots of birds.  There were also lots of no-see-ums. Those are bugs you can’t see but when they bite you, you can feel it.  I find their bites itch more than mosquito bites.  Since we left the bug spray in the motorhome (of course!), we didn’t do any walking.  My favorite bird to watch was the Reddish Egret.  I love watching them fish.  I got some video (see here) of one fishing.  If you have never seen them fish, you should watch.  I was using my regular camera with the long lens when I saw the Egret and it is hard to handhold and video with that lens so it is a little shaky.  The tripod was with the bug spray back in the motorhome!!

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Birds at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
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Gull bathing at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
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Ibis at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
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White Pelicans at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
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Roseatte Spoonbill preening at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. A lot of people mistake them for Flamingos.
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Yellow-crowned Nigh-Heron at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.