Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fun in the (Mostly) Sun!

For the past ten or so days while in Florida, we had great fun exploring St. Petersburg Beach and Bonita Springs Beach as well as a tiny bit of the Everglades. The weather was a bit chillier than we had expected, but that didn't stop our daily adventure. On the one day of rain, we went first to the Salvador Dali Museum, and then out to the pier in St. Pete for lunch. We ate outside at the restaurant and were visited by lots of boat-tailed grackles that were seeking handouts. These cheeky little guys were actually swooping down and helping themselves off trays before the waitstaff could clear the tables!
Gutsy Female Grackle
Another day we enjoyed a picnic at the Fort DeSoto State Park and watched a pelican pester a fisherman. Oh, how he wanted the fish the man had just caught!
I know you have a fish stashed somewhere!
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was a wonderful place to explore. We walked the entire boardwalk and saw lots of wildlife. Woodstorks use the park as a nesting site, but we only saw them soaring overhead here. (Check Dee's blog for a great photo.) We did see a lone red-shouldered hawk, busily scanning the area, high up in a tree.
Just checking things out...
We also saw a lot of wading birds, including this ibis. The ranger said these birds have a very sensitive curved beak and swish it through the water until detecting its prey. Wouldn't that be a hard way to get your food?
I know there's something yummy in here somewhere!
We also saw a few alligators here and this snake, thanks again to a sharp-eyed ranger who said it was non-venomous. Nevertheless, it was impressive!
Can you see me?
About 90 miles away from Bonita Springs Beach on the Tamiami Highway, we visited the Shark Valley area of the Everglades. What an interesting place! We walked around a bit and then decided to take the tram tour, which was more expensive than we remembered, because walking the 7 miles one way to the viewing tour just wasn't an option for us time or energywise. We saw lots of alligators of all sizes here. This photo was taken from the viewing tower at the end of the tramride.
Enjoying the sun!
Here we also saw several nests of baby anhingas. The guide mentioned that this was the first year in a while that the anhingas have nested and seemed very excited about that fact. Anhingas are beautiful birds that kind of resemble cormorants. However, anhingas fish by spearing their prey with their pointy beaks and then whacking the fish around until they can flip it and swallow it, head first!
Lest your eyes glaze over with all these bird photos, I will save a few more for tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

We LOVE Fort DeSoto Park. I've done lots of miles inline skating on those trails while the boys bike along.

Wow! Thatsa lotta gators. I have never seen that many in one place. Great photo.

This must be the year for anhingas. We had TWO flocks of them in our lake. We've never had any before.

Barbara C said...

What great photos--and the sky is such a lovely blue.
It looks like a great trip.

Cat said...

Looks and sounds like a wonderful vacation! These are terrific photos of the critters.

I've had some catching up to do on your blog!