Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cedar Keys

Another of our adventures with my visiting sister Beth was to Cedar Keys on the Nature Coast of Florida. It is about an hours drive west from Ocala. Our first stop was to Shell Mound just before crossing the bridge onto the main Island and the small fishing village of Cedar Key.

The Black Skimmers were plentiful - lined up on one of the small sand mounds out in the water.

Air boats are a real problem. Yes, they look like a lot of fun - but they are a menace to plants, fish, birds and other aquatic life, especially in the rivers. We watched as this boat scared away all the birds. In the rivers, they run over the plants and destroy habitats.

As the Black Skimmers returned, we noticed other black and white birds - American Avocets! This is the first time we've seen Avocet at Cedar Key - and it was a Life Bird for Beth. Beth was able to get a decent picture of a Marbled Godwit - but I did not, so you'll have to check her blog.

On the Island, we headed to the docks just as this Seaplane was coming in for a landing. ...and just as Tidewater Tours was heading out for a trip to the islands. A quick pee stop and we were on board the pontoon boat.

Don't you love this pair of twin Double-crested Cormorants?

We saw thousands of Cormorants - in the air, on the shore, sitting on signs and lining all the islands. They are NOT endangered!

This shot was purely accidental. I was trying to get a picture of a dolphin when this Common Loon popped up right in front of the boat where my camera was aimed.

After lots and lots of pictures of splashes, I actually got a couple of pretty good pictures of dolphins!

I think they were following the boat.

I'm sure this one was smiling.

This is probably my best shot.

This is the top of the lighthouse on Seahorse Key. The island is open to visitors only a couple of days a year - and this was not one of the days.

Close to shore, we saw a couple of Horned Grebe. This one looks like he is playing with a small snake.

His partner wants to play too.

Too late - the snake is gone.

One of the islands is home to a large group of White Pelicans - and an even larger group of Cormorants. We were able to get quite close - and both Beth and I took dozens of pictures!

Back on land, we were excited to spot this Great Horned Owl. We pulled the car over and jumped out for a picture. Oh well, maybe next time. But even a plastic owl couldn't dampen our spirits. After a delicious meal at Tony's (yes, of course I had their award-winning clam chowder!) we headed back to Ocala. I think Beth enjoyed her day - I know I did!

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