Yesterday started out foggy and looking like rain but we had made arrangements to take our new friends, Carol and Chuck to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - so off we went. The day could not have been more perfect!
Looking at this picture, you can really see how the Red-shouldered Hawk got his name.
We always look for the Painted Buntings. The multi-colored male was there for a second but was scared off by the other ground critters. This female Painted Bunting stood her ground and continued eating the seeds that had fallen from the feeders - right next to a squirrel and a raccoon.
And this hungry raccoon wasn't the least bit interested in the bird and would not even lift his head long enough for a decent picture! He was determined to get every last seed.
This Yellow-crowned Night Heron was hiding in the trees but Chuck found an opening for me to take a picture through.
The Great Egrets are so graceful and elegant - this one has his neck stretched out looking for a small fish.
A day at Corkscrew wouldn't be complete without seeing at least one alligator. This guy was bigger than most that we see there - snuggled in the leaves taking a nap.
We saw several kinds of little birds including this Eastern Phoebe. I think Carol and Chuck enjoyed their stroll through the swamp. We didn't see tons of birds, but enough to hold our interest - and it's always a nice calming walk.
Instead of driving right back to Ft. Myers, we headed to Immokalee to see the new casino. The casino is okay - just okay. It's not as smokey as the old one - but certainly not smoke-free like the ones in Colorado. The gambling is ridiculous, you might as well just throw your money out the car window on the way by. $20 was sucked out of my hand in a nanosecond. I didn't get to play at all. Since it was getting late, we decided to eat lunch and the food at the casino deli was fabulous! Bill and I split a pastrami sandwich - there was no way either of us could (or should!) eat a whole one - and it was one of the best we have had here in Florida.
With full tummies, we headed to Manatee Park so Carol could see a manatee. There were quite a few getting warm in the waters by the power plant, but the lighting was terrible for pictures.
Instead, I took this shot of the huge mural on the welcome center. This shows a nursing calf with her mother.
Chuck, Carol and Bill posing for the camera towards the end of a great day with our friends.
The day before, Bill and I walked the entire loop at Harns Marsh. This time we took our GPS and I can report it was exactly 4-miles around. We didn't see anything too unusual for the area and didn't even spot a Snail Kite. We did see lots of buzzards, Limpkins, swallows, Killdeer, shore-birds, hawks, heron, egrets, ibis and ducks (including Blue-winged Teal). This is a beautiful American Kestrel. I usually don't like to photograph birds on wires, but I made an exception with this little guy. The river otters also made an appearance - but it was brief.
Mottled Duck on the left, Glossy Ibis on the right. Mottled Ducks are all over Florida - but not much anywhere else. They are similar to Mallards and the two species are often are seen together. The Glossy Ibis are just beginning to acquire their beautiful breeding plumages - iridescent reds, blues and purples that shine in the sunlight. Spring is coming.
We haven't been back to Ocala and are still torn with our decision. There are so many pluses to moving to a retirement community - but I just LOVE it here in Southwest Florida! The weather this year has not been ideal - but it has not been great up north either. Ocala would bring all new opportunities for adventures - including new birding and hiking sites - but I would miss being close to the Everglades, beach, tropical marshes and swamps. Decisions, decisions....