Guttenberg Idyl

I spent most of June on the river with my brother Mark. We had a great time and a visit from his son Austin. [Gallery]

There were lots of birds! To start we had this fellow right outside our front door for several mornings…

The Gray Catbird is related to Mockingbirds, and it shows!

The Turtles were on the march to lay their eggs…

There were several storms the first week, most with afternoon rainbows. Check out this HDR Panorama… [click to enlarge]

I went up to Pike’s Peak State Park for a walk in the woods. Very pleasant, few people, not many flowers, lots of ferns…


We had a family gathering for my Aunt Katherine’s 90th Birthday

Mark, Austin and I ventured over to Glen Haven, Wisconsin to partake of Taco Night and a friendly game of billiards…

A pair of Red-Winged Blackbirds had a nest in one of our shrubs. The young birds were up and out about ten days after hatching. I couldn’t get real close because the momma bird was very upset with me (and rightfully so!).

⇐ click to enlarge


Dickcissel
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart

I saw Indigo Buntings and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks three or four times when I was cycling on the backroads. Other birds included…

Austin and I went over to the Motor Mill and it was unexpectedly open for tours! We went from the basement to the attic. It is a very cool building!

I now have a much better idea of how it worked. They think there was a wooden dam and a flume wall that brought the water into the basement (lower right below the grass) where it turned three vertical turbines (two for the grindstones and one for everything else). This Diagram gives some sense of the complexity inside.

After our tour we took a pleasant bike ride on the Pony Hollow Trail and ran into this Eastern Bluebird family…

It was a great day! Even the rain held off until we were off the trail.

Birds of Sweetwater Wetlands 2017

It doesn’t get better than this! Recent outing to the Sweetwater Wetlands Park was packed with birds, including the Limpkin above. (I saw more limpkin in one hour than I’ve seen elsewhere in my entire life!) [Gallery]

Here’s a stunning Anhinga drying his wings. (I think this is a young male just molting into adult plumage.)

 

There were many Blue-Winged Teal on their way north mixed in with the local gallinules.

And the real surprise, a pair of American Bittern! (It’s only one of the most cryptic birds in North America.)

There were about a dozen Sandhill Cranes moving about and trumpeting.

Many male Red-Winged Blackbirds were out defending their territories.

And finally one of my favorites, a Pied-Billed Grebe having a stretch.

Go to the entire gallery for more!

Everglades (Sail) Kayak Trip 2017

Everglades time again! This year I went for five days/four nights with my sister Diana Pray from LA. We did a lazy double figure eight route around northeastern Whitewater Bay and the Gulf. [Gallery] With the exception of a few distant motorboats we were completely alone for four days, quite remarkable!

 

The wind was southerly the entire trip, so the first day we started out sailing almost all the way to the Roberts River Chickee.

 

I brought along a 360° panoramic camera and took some impressive shots! Here we are on our own little planet.

 

The next day we took The Cut-Off over to the North River and ate lunch on the Watson River Chickee. Then we got lost in The Labyrinth on our way to the Shark River.

Surprisingly we ended up on what I call “Dad’s Creek” where my father and I dumped the canoe in 2005. This set us up for a very pleasant twilight excursion up stream to the Shark River Chickee.

The next day the water was like glass as we headed into one of the northern channels of the Shark River to set up our boomerang out to the Gulf of Mexico. [The river reverses flow twice a day, down with the outgoing tide and up with the high tide. So if you time it right you can ride the current both ways! I call the upstream flow the “Everglades Escalator!“]

This trip was remarkable for how many sea creatures we saw! We watched dolphins feeding/cavorting at least ten times, including their habit of laying on their side in the shallows and splashing fish onto the shore.

We saw a Manatee come up for air and then swim under us in the Labyrinth. But the highlight was returning up the Shark River where we were in the middle of a group of Sea Turtles (maybe ten!) who would popup randomly for air and be gone in a second. [It reminded me of whack-a-mole!] One actually ran into Diana’s kayak!! The heads were huge so I think the were Loggerheads.

We got back to the Watson River Chickee at dusk, promptly ate and went to bed. The next morning we were greeted by dolphins feeding a few feet away!

The next day was a leisurely float down the eastern side of Whitewater Bay.

We got to the Lane Bay Chickee well before dark and had some time to relax and swim. The breeze finally kept the bugs off <smile>.

 

The next day we worked our way down through the maze of Hells Bay.

Back on Whitewater Bay we encountered a 10-15 mph headwind. It was a bit of a slog but so much better than a canoe!

A quick return trip across Coot Bay finished our most excellent adventure!