Anniversary Everglades Trip

Dec 28, 2009 by Janine |
Last week Rich and I celebrated our 5th anniversary. We marked the occasion with a trip to Everglades National Park. On the way we stopped off at a native plant nursery and also had lunch at an excellent Thai restaurant in Miami.
The skies were dullish but it did not rain so thats good.

Little alligator along the research road

A sassy shrike posed well for us

As we drove south toward Flamingo, a flash of white in the corner of my eye caught my attention. This bald eagle was drinking from a small pool of water in a mostly dried out marsh.

Further ahead, a dark shape darted across the road in front of us. I pulled over and looked in the trees and discovered a black Mangrove Fox squirrel, the first time I have ever seen this color variant. The fur was all black except for the white tail tip.

Signs are now posted throughout the park warning visitors of the dangers that vultures pose to their cars. I scoffed at this, and thought that maybe the vultures were taking the blame for damage caused by the crows. I have personally witnessed plenty of corvid induced car damage.
However, in the parking lot at the Flamingo Marina, we saw some vultures perching on top of a Mini, pecking and tearing at the rubber lined sun roof.

Sweet innocence

After dark, we saw several snakes, many of them common species. There was a small pygmy rattler at Flamingo, in a similar location to where I have recently seen rattlers this year. While driving back I got mad at all the clueless individuals who came to the park to "enjoy nature" and then proceed to speed out of the park after dark and squash all the hapless nocturnal creatures. At one point we pulled over to allow some impatient boaters to pass us and likely flatten any snakes on the road. But, while we were stopped, we were thrilled to see a scarlet snake creep out in front of us, a first sighting for us both.

We had a great time in the glades, as always. It's never a bad trip when you see something new.

That's it for this blog, and for this year. Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year!!!


Dec 15, 2009 by Janine |
Last week I went to Rockport, TX to visit the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the wintering ground for the endangered Whooping Crane. It was an amazing trip, with great company and awesome birds.

A sleepy evening in Rockport

We had dinner at a little place on the water. It was a dark and foggy evening, and the boats coming in late made for some spooky shots.

The next morning we boarded the boat to tour the refuge from the water. It was very cold by my standards (40's).

The boats from last night still looked eerie in the fog.

Luckily, once we got out on the water, the fog cleared. The sun even came out at times! However, the temperatures did not rise very much. A few brave souls and I braved the top deck of the boat in the biting wind to get fantastic views of White Tailed Hawk (a new one for me) and Whooping Cranes.

Catching Blue Crab, an essential part of their diet while wintering in South Texas.

We saw two pairs with chicks. At one point, when the wind died down, you could hear the peeps of the chick begging for food.

The cranes are territorial when breeding. This pair spotted the "resident" pair approaching and hurried away.

It was great to see the Whooping Cranes soaring over the salt marsh. I am grateful that I was able to go and see them, and hope that they will be around for many years to come.

Sanibel II

Dec 11, 2009 by Janine |
The next morning I woke at the crack of dawn and headed for the Ding Darling NWR. The refuge is considered to be one of the hottest wading bird photography spots in Florida, if not the nation. Unfortunately, though there were quite a few photographers gathered, there wasn't much bird activity.

Follow me

A cooperative Tricolor heron

Colorful vistas

Because I was so early, I figured I would be the first to walk many of the trails.

I was wrong.

I was hoping for views of mangrove snakes or night herons but all I got was this raccoon (the suspected leaver of the footprints)

Two young raccoons in a tree were the center of attention.

Later that morning, as I was leaving the island, I decided to stop by the Sanibel lighthouse.

I said goodbye to the island, with dolphins leaping just offshore, and a snowy egret giving me the evil eye

In other news, I just got back from Texas and had the privilege of visiting Aransas NWR while I was there. Will be posting pics in the next few days!


Dec 02, 2009 by Janine |
Sanibel Island is on Florida's west coast, just off Ft. Myers. It is probably the only place in South Florida, outside the parks, that has not become completely overdeveloped and spoiled. The island has VERY strict building regulations and uses mostly native plant landscaping versus manicured lawns and ornamental shrubs. Needless to say it is an amazing place with a wealth of wildlife. It gets pretty crowded in the winter due to the "snowbird" effect; however it was still pretty quiet this past weekend when I visited.

I wandered around for a bit Sunday evening and finally plopped down at the beach. I had plenty of company...

Snowy Egret


Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the day's batch of tourists)



Black Bellied Plover

Sunsets on the west coast are always spectacular. Sanibel sunsets seem especially magical and vibrant.

Darkness fell as the sun was ferried away.

To be continued...