Monday January 26 and Tuesday January 27, 2015
Myakka River State Park
Big Flats Campground
This morning I come out the back of our campsite which is in the trees to find a glorious if chilly morning over what I call the Myakka Prairie. The sky and clouds look gorgeous. What had felt like a bit of a breeze under the trees, was a full blown windy day out here.
I turn and head for the bird walk. I had heard it was going to be windy, I could see the trees rustling around Winnona but I didn’t know it was going to be 24 mph+. The spanish moss – what my Aunt Carrie always called goat’s beard – isn’t hanging down like usual. It is hanging side ways. Too bad cameras can’t give the feel of motion.
Walking almost anywhere in Myakka that isn’t on the longer sand trails means walking on the park road. There aren’t many alternatives and there is so much water here now that you can’t cut through anywhere.
The normally Upper Myakka lake is fairly placid. Today it has white caps, waves even. Too funny! Surf’s up!!
When I get to the bird walk I am not expecting much activity with the uncustomarily deep lake waters and the strong winds.
The lake looks beautiful with the clouds’ reflections. There are a couple of brave souls fishing and looking a tad wind blown.
The wind never let up the entire time I am out. On the way back I see another great egret and he actually makes me laugh out loud he’s so wind blown.
Even with the wind, he gets down to business and in no time has grabbed a snack from the water.
We spend the rest of the day taking care of business but I did catch the color at sunset over the “prairie” behind our campsite.
This morning David has to get the second of weekly blood draws for the first month of this new treatment so we drive into Northern Sarasota for that. The Cancer Clinic he goes to is about a mile down the road from Detweiller’s Farm Market so I drop him off and go back to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies. It’s great to get there this early, 8:30am, since their parking lot gets full to over flowing later in the morning.
It’s amazing that I am able to get these pictures with not one person in the aisle. That’s seriously rare here. They are all behind me.
Detweilers has everything you can imagine. Not only fresh but I think they may have every item From Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon too. I’ve never seen so many in one place.
How about this bag of carrots? Or 25 POUNDS of Virginia Peanuts. I would not have noticed these under the vegetable counter had not a man come up and grabbed one as I was looking around.
After Detweiller’s, we go on into Sarasota and make a stop at Whole Foods to get those things that we cannot get anywhere else. Then it’s to the bank for some cash and to the gas station for Ruby to fill up at $1.979 a gallon. That’s just an amazing price and I hear it is even lower in Virginia. We were paying nearly twice that this summer out west.
We grab some lunch and decide that since it is such a beautiful day we’ll get out on the swollen river and go north from the bridge. We usually can’t go very far this way because the water level is too low.
Lots of cormorants today, a few little blue herons and gators.
The winds yesterday were horrific. They are less today but pick up after we are out for only a short while. You can see the what they do to the water.
David spots the tower of the canopy walk in the middle of the tree line in the distance. I zoom in for a closer look and see it is filled with people. Don’t think I’ve ever been there with quite that many people. The numbers in the park during the week in January are nearly as bad as the week-ends. Guess everyone is wanting to get out of the blizzards of the north.
The winds go in spurts. Sometimes the water is calm enough to reflect the clouds. It’s a beautiful day.
One way of getting out of the wind is to take some narrow channels. Paddling down this one we look up in the big tree on our right and there sit not one but two hawks.
We hang out with them for quite a while. They don’t seem to mind but then they aren’t doing much either. Of course I take way too many pictures. But they’re just posing. I’m thinking these are red shouldered hawks, an adult and a juvenile. Judy will correct me if I’m wrong. When I’m putting this post together I notice the older one’s head looks kind of wet in my close up shot.
What a thrill! They are both stunning!! We finally head on down the way and leave them in peace.
The water is so uncharacteristically deep that there aren’t many “banks” for the gators to stretch out on so we find them lurking just below the surface and in some of the grasses along the banks. It’s hard to watch out for them on both sides. They won’t come after us unless they feel frightened or cornered so we just want to make sure we don’t do that. You can see I’m making a wide swing around that black spot whose eyes are watching me in the water near the edge.
Sometimes they are easier to spot. I think their noses are funny looking. Big and bulbous.
Just before we move into more open water and take on the wind again, David spies a female anhinga on a post in the distance . She’s normally a taller bird with a long velvety brown neck but she’s really scrunched down here. Don’t blame her, it’s windy.
We turn the corner to go back in the smaller pathways and there is a little blue heron sitting in the top of a bush at the water’s edge. I watch as one of the cormorants flies over to the bush and flaps his way up to the top forcing the little blue off. Bully!
The little blue just flies over to the next bush and sits down lower this time. You do what you gotta do.
Just beyond, tucked in the corner is the biggest alligator of the day. Well except maybe for the one that David nearly ran into when he was blown into the bank. Lucky for him the scared alligator didn’t attack in defense but chose flight rather than fight and scared us both to death when he splashed into the water. Stay away from banks in narrow channels in alligator country on a sunny day in deep water is the message here.
A poor snowy egret is minding his own business and trying to fish from the bank of the channel we are paddling up. He gets set and then gets worried about us and flies on ahead, gets set….flies….gets set…..flies and FINALLY figures out that he needs to fly behind us. I just love his golden slippers.
I could go on and on with a play by play but I’ll just put a few pictures of the birds we see along the way. The little blue heron, love his dusky feathers. He’s on the branch in the picture below. We swung wide so as not to scare him off. it worked. There is a male anhinga with the fancy feathers and the kingfisher of which I actually get a fairly decent picture.
We move out into more open water and the winds really pick up. Time to head back and get out of the wind. It’s serious paddling for a while before moving again into the protection of the narrower channels.
As we round the bend, I see that the little blue and the snowy have taken the tree back. Nice of them to share.
We have the current with us this time and when the wind is down we make good time coming back. 2.5 hours out, 45 minutes back. We knew the short cuts by then. <grin>
The sun is dropping in the sky as we paddle into it near the put in. Even with the wind, I’m glad to spend an afternoon back on the water.