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Monday, June 18, 2018

31 January Birding at Harnes Marsh

After our visit the evening before, we decided to spend the day at Harnes Marsh exploring all the trails. The trails didn't disappoint with birds of all kinds everywhere.

Pie billed grebes with young

Drying its wings...

A Baker's Dozen

This was our first spotting of a loggerhead shrike. It's always exciting to spot a bird for the first time.

We spotted two different groups of sandhill cranes on our walk.

In between the amazing birds, we enjoyed the caches on the trail. One of the hiders put extra effort into their hides and decorated the ammo cans.

Just after finding the turtle ammo can, we made our first sighting of a broad-winged hawk. It was in a tree almost directly above a different cache.

We always joke about how appropriate the name cattle egret is for these birds since we always seem to see them in fields where there is livestock grazing. We may need to re-think as this afternoon there were quite a few in a nearby field, and there are no cattle at Harnes Marsh.

I would have passed by this green heron tucked away in the brush if Ali hadn't noticed it. Green herons cover a wide range including our home area, but we generally spot them only once or twice a year.

It's hard to imagine just how plentiful food sources must be in the marsh to support so many birds.

A few of the caches we found had been replaced. A few were in really rough shape. Surprisingly, many of them were survirvors that made it through the hurricane and flooding. We had a great time on a perfect vacation day.

We made one last stop before dinner at a cache behind a shopping center. It's not our usual location of choice for caching, but Ali noticed the logs were very positive. It seemed to be the shopping center development left a natural area at the property edge. I wasn't expecting too much and left my camera behind (also didn't want to look like a total geek). We were happily surprised to see an oasis for shorebirds with plenty of them in the area.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

30 January 2018 Manatees and a Marsh

We try to pack a lot into each vacation. We like to hike. We want to see wildlife. We like to geocache. We enjoy a historical site. We even occasionally play tourists. As a result some of our days of fun end up being a little bit of this and that. Today was one of those days. We started the day trying to reach fifty finds in Sarasota County. We were having a fun walk at a nice preserve when we spotted this armadillo. They are usually quite skittish, but this one was at least a slight bit interactive. It stayed in our general area long before finally trying to burrow out of site.

We spotted swamp lilies behind Snook Haven. I'm not a big food person and don't drink, but this placed looked like a great place to stop for a meal. When we passed the restaurant, the lunch time musical act was warming up. After checking their menu, we've added it to our plans for our next visit. We missed finding the cache, but enjoyed the walk and plan for a future visit.

I needed a shirt, and I had never been to Punta Gorda so we bounced over there next. We stopped for a short walk on the water front where we saw the rehabilitation project to return oyster reefs to Charlotte Harbor.

Somehow, Ali was able to spot a Spotted Sandpiper moving through the beds. We spent a long time in the boardwalk while I tried to see what she was seeing. Eventually, there was success and a few images.

Our walk along the water's edge was chilled by a stiff wind bending the palm trees. It was a reminder that even Florida gets cold in January.

Our next stop was our third visit to Manatee Park. We had been here twice before and missed seeing manatees. This afternoon, we were ecstatic to see there were many of these amazing creatures swimming in the warm waters.

What a face

There were single manatees swimming, mothers with calves, and groups of them peacefully swimming in the area. It was an amazing moment for me.

You're not a manatee! My what big claws you have.

We didn't spend all our time at Manatee Park watching the water. We were also able to spot a pine warbler and a blue grey gnatchatcher moving among the trees.

When we left Manatee Park, we made a return visit to Harnes Marsh. Harnes was the last place we stopped on our prior vacation. We were on our way to the airport and stopped to find a few caches. We were so impressed with the birding, it was a destination for this vacation. This was a short visit packed with bird sightings and a few cache finds.

A few birds

These mottled ducks were a new sighting for us.

The birds of Harnes Marsh put on quite a show during our one hour visit. We left thinking of ways to find time to visit again. It was quite a January sunset and moon rise too.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

29 January 2018 Myakka River State Park

A return visit to Myakka was a guaranteed activity on vacation. The park offers a wealth of wildlife viewing with a number of geocaches available for finding. Our first stop was the fertile viewing area starting at the bridge over the Myakka River and walking the trail alongside the river.


The gators are amazing animals to spot from a distance. I would rather not get too close.

Moss covered trees on a point.

This younger alligator still shows multi-colored stripes in the tail area.

It was time to make our way to back to parking and other adventures

Our last visit to the park was on a Sunday. The Canopy Walkway was very busy on the weekend. Today, the Monday visitors were light with even fewer takers to climb the stairs.

With no one else on the bridge besides us, I could fully enjoy shaking the suspension walkway. :)

The tower adds another extended level of climbing.

The long view is outstanding although the canopy walk didn't provide us greater bird watching opportunities.

We moved on to a couple of utility line walks with a few caches. We hadn't visited this section of the river on our first visit so we were happy to see a new area. We weren't disappointed with the sights.

Who knew they wore galoshes to keep their feet dry? I was surprised the term galoshes is still commonly used. It has an old movie sound about it.

We headed in the other direction along the same power line. It always pays to look off trail and be observant. Who knows what might be there.

This younger gator seemed oblivious to the nearby action.

Nearby, this anhinga had been out swimming and come up with lunch. The meal preparation made for an interesting video.

Between the amazing sights of nature, we did find a few caches. The tree below had multiple decoy containers. We missed the find on our last visit, but not this time.

We worked our way through the park for the rest of the day. There were stops for caches along the way, but our journey for the rest of the day was to reach the park's birdwalk and enjoy the sites. We were hoping to again see eagles near the birdwatch.

A palm warbler stopped by the observation deck as we were watching the shorebirds.

We spotted one of the eagles in a familiar perching area as we returned back along the boardwalk.

We were trying to make our way out before the park's sunset closure when we had our third encounter with wild hogs. Light was too low to grab an image as they made their way across the road and away from us. I much prefer longer distance spottings of these fiesty and dangerous beasts.