Our holidays began the week before Christmas when Bill's two daughters and their families arrived in Florida. We met them on Cocoa Beach after they spent a day enjoying Universal. Terri's family had never seen the ocean so it was fun for all as they played in the waves.
Laura jumped right in with the kids.
Since the kids rented a van, Bill and I left in our brand new car for a leisurely drive to Fort Myers - down 95 and across the state near Lake Okeechobee. I was on the lookout for a Crested Caracara!
and was rewarded when this beautiful, majestic bird posed for me. I was thrilled!
The family joined us for a walk through Six Mile Cypress Slough. This is a Pied-billed Grebe that played in one of the ponds.
an Eastern Phoebe
The water was high, but we saw quite a few wading birds including a large group of White Ibis.
I know it's only a Boat-tailed Grackle but he was sitting in the sun and his colors were gorgeous.
The Ibis were very close and didn't seen to mind me taking their picture.
An American Alligator was on the "must see" list. This guy wasn't very big but we didn't care.
The next day I nursed the 24-hour flu while the kids headed to Lovers Key to collect shells. I'm sorry I missed it - but they had a wonderful time.
After 3 days in Fort Myers, we headed to Ocala and took the kids to Rainbow River State Park. This Anhinga caught a fish and was beating it on the branch before eating it. Anhingas are excellent swimmers with their large webbed feet.
The kids rented canoes and paddled down the crystal clear river. We had a memorable visit and were sorry to see them leave on Christmas morning. Our little house was bursting at the seams with 7 extra people - but it was wonderful!