South Florida Trip January 2018

We were planning to take a three day trip in the Everglades last week, but the weather did not cooperate, very windy with three to five foot seas and eight foot waves possible! No thanks… We decided to car camp, taking day trips to the Turner River and three state parks we had not been to. [Gallery]

We got a few miles down the Turner through very low mangrove tunnels. We stopped where a canal historically merged with the river. On the way back we encountered an eight to ten foot alligator sunning himself.

We tented at Collier-Seminole State Park with temps down to the low 40s. We spent a few hours on the scenic drive through Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. [Panorama]

We then visited Myakka River State Park on our way home. They have several nice nature walks including this eighty foot tower and canopy walk.

There were lots of birds including Bald Eagles, Black Stilts and these Roseate Spoonbills feeding in a small stream.

They look like vacuum cleaners in this video.

Back in St. Pete we went to see a kite flying competition.

Garden of the Gods

I had the opportunity to travel through Southern Illinois on my way back from Iowa in June. I stopped for the night at The Garden of the Gods. [Gallery]

It was late afternoon and I had just enough time to walk and photograph the major trail while the sun was setting. I took several nice photos including this HDR Panorama. [Click to Enlarge]

As the day ended I heard pleasant bird song, followed it, and discovered the source was this beautiful Indigo Bunting.

I slept comfortably in my hammock and the next morning the same bird (?) was singing in a nearby tree! (I saw this species a half dozen times this trip—more than my entire life prior!) I had a chance to observe this bird long enough to notice he was very systematic with his song. He would belt out a few bars, then turn 90° and sing some more, repeat, repeat, new perch, repeat, repeat…

The next morning I got up early and crossed the Ohio River on a little car ferry.

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.