Wednesday, November 30, 2016

11/30 Midway Campground, Big Cypress Preserve

This has been one of my favorite campgrounds in Florida for over four years for a lot of reasons.  Here are some maps that show where it is located.  You can see I-75 cut across lower Florida and then below it, you can see the old Tamiami Trail.  The red arrow shows the location of the campground.

This is a bit closer and shows the campground (red arrow) and the Oasis Visitor Center (green arrow).

This is a Google maps view of the campground.  My site is shown with the red arrow. 
My campsite.  It is a cloudy day, but still warm outside and with some occasional sun. 
This is the pond the campsites circle.  Supposed to be alligators, but I have not seen any.  
After chatting with the two camp host couples, I walked to the entrance and across the highway.  

When they built Tamiami Trail, they had to dig a ditch the entire length to get enough rock to build up the highway. The ditch is on the left, but unless you look closely as you drive or get out and park, it looks pretty ordinary.

Usually, there are a lot of birds along the ditch in the trees, but none today.  I did see some good-sized fish and one big alligator, but he moved off behind some greenery before I could take a good photo.  

Looking across at the campground entrance. 
One of the three campground delinquents. r
I walked around the loop and first chatted with another solo lady camper. This was her first winter with her new trailer.  
 I was planning on making pasties this afternoon, but as you can see, the sun is really getting low in the sky.  Will do it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

11/29 Kirby Storter Park, Tamiami Trail

This place just looks like a roadside park with a rustic restroom and no water.  However, it has a one-mile boardwalk through dwarf bald cypress.  There is very, very little soil here on the limestone base that forms all of Florida, so the trees do not grow as large as they do elsewhere because they lack nutrients. If you drive past here, please do stop, and not just to use the restroom!  The birds at the end of the boardwalk will make it worthwhile.

FYI, if you are from northern climes, just want you to know it was 85 today.  Last night went down to a comfortable 65, although tonight is supposed to be a tad warmer.  I would prefer nights below 60 to slow the bugs down a bit, but it is very slowly cooling off in Florida and will be perfect for us northerners, although the Floridians will probably be putting on sweaters and light jackets if it drops below 75!

I had taken this drive from my campground with two purposes: 1) find a Verizon signal so I could check my email and upload papers, and 2) walk on the boardwalk.

Yes, there are also Florida panthers here, although I did not get to see one.

And here are the birds--mostly great white herons and ibis, with a handful of wood storks thrown in. The herons are the tall white birds with straight, orange beaks.
This is a wood stork.  They feed on crustaceans by doing a little dance. You hold you left wing out (to shade the water the better to see your prey) and you stomp your left foot several times to stir things up.  Repeat with right foot and wing until you find something tasty.

A turkey vulture calmly sitting on a branch.

This is a juvenile ibis with a tiny bit of white showing as he grows new adult feathers.  For his size, his curved-downward beak is HUGE!  Guess it is sort of like a puppy growing into his feet.

And a beautiful white heron starting to grow his feathery breeding plumage.

More wood storks.


11/25 WP Franklin Lock and Dam Campground

I almost forgot to post the few photos I took of this campground.  I normally take more, but this time my fear of additional no-see-um bites prevented me from going outside much.  That and the fact that I was really behind on grading papers for my online class meant I spent a lot of time indoors working. 

Anyway, this is the Corps of Engineers lock and dam campground closest to Ft. Myers.  (Farthest east is St. Lucie, and in between this campground and Lake Okochoobee is Ortona South, where I will be in a week or so.  The negative to this campground is that you cannot walk across the dam, meaning that you cannot see the lock from this side of the river. You have to drive about 15 miles to the day use site on the other side to do that.  The good news is that this is a pretty part of the river. 

Anyway, I don't think the photos require much explanation. The first one shows my campsite. Nice!

Cruisers can camp also!  They have electric hookups if they want them.
The locks are way over on the other side.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

11/23 Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has been one of my favorite places to visit in Florida since I first came here in 1981.  It is northeast of Naples and really not convenient to anything, which is what makes it special. 

The Corkscrew contains the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America and a 2.5 mile boardwalk, along with a very nice visitor center and gift shop.

I was lucky on my first visit in 1981 to see thousands of wood storks nesting here, but unfortunately their numbers are now very low, and they do not nest here anymore in such numbers.

Many birds in Florida became almost hunted to extinction to provide feathers for ladies hats.  This area was once a prime plume hunting location.

The red-shouldered hawk was sitting just a few feet away from me and posing nicely.

The boardwalk goes through a variety of mini-environments, some a bit drier than others.  The rule is whisper and walk softly.

Large Boston fern.

Rabbit's foot fern.

Swamp fern.

Strap fern.

An air plant of some sort.  They do not hurt the tree.

Swamps are not ugly, scary places.  This one is full of ferns, cypress and other trees, and even orchids, as well as wading and other birds of all kinds. 

Today was a terrific day to come here because there was almost no one else around. Check out this video I took:

The boardwalk looks like it is falling apart, but it is made of a special South American wood that does not rot.  Mostly you see a lot of lichen growing on it.

This is a good photo of resurrection fern. You see it all over Florida on almost every horizontal surface. It looks dead, but a brief rain will cause it to turn green and look alive in just a few minutes.

This anhinga was preening his feathers.

Interesting lichen on this tree.

There were a lot more flowers in bloom last time I was here, but here is one.  Will have to look it up.

Not many acorns in the swamp, so squirrels each lichen and seeds.

 This was the size of a dinner plate.  Will have to look it up.

Some swamp lettuce and duckweed,

Another anhinga.  This one was hanging his wings out to dry!

And this one had a fish in his mouth.  After whacking it against the tree, he finally swallowed it.

A lot of anhingas were fishing today. This one was just taking a break.

This was a very pretty little blue heron fishing for minnows.  And he found several.

The only alligator I saw, but a really big fat one!