Wednesday, September 20, 2017

11 February 2017 Harnes Marsh

It was time to return home. We had a little later flight so Ali hunted down a place for us to cache and walk for a bit on the way to the airport. I knew there were caches here and was hoping for some walking. As we got near the marsh, we were in a residential neighborhood that was leaving me wondering if this was worth the visit. Then we arrived at the marsh. The images below say it all for this birding paradise. I would have considered a nice walk a good day with a few caches a better day. There were birds everywhere. It was an awesome end to an super visit to Florida.

It was time for our flight too. It was an amazing, wonderful, unexpected experience.

Monday, September 18, 2017

10 February 2017 Big Cypress and Beyond

We started our day's journey with a visit to the Big Cypress Swamp Nature Center for a rare earthcache. We enjoyed the information and a walk outside which included a nice view of the water and a few fishes swimming through.


We also made a stop at the very-crowded HP Williams Picnic Area (do any children actually go to school anymore?). The boardwalk was nearly on top of the water and afforded some close-up views of the underwater inhabitants.

Up Close and Personal

We stopped at the Kirby Storter Roadside Park. The walk started really quietly with a walk along a rather dry and rather quiet section of the swamp. We eventually came to a section with water and a host of interesting things to see. :)

I don't know what this flower is. We've been unable to identify it, but it was attractive blooming in the water.

We were happy to spot a Florida soft shell turtle in the water.

When I was selecting images for this post I realized each image of the turtle included a female six-spotted fishing spider riding the back of the spider hunting for a meal! We are geeks.

The resident hawk appeared to be favoring a leg. None of the images I captured showed the left leg resting on the branch.

Our next stop along our journey was for a walk along the Florida Trail. The road to the trail was dotted with small bridges for the swamp to flow under the road. We stopped at a number of locations where each seemed to have an array of interesting birds and the ever-present collection of large alligators and many, many fish.

In Breeding Plumage

The Florida Trail was actually quite dry once we arrived and took a short walk.

In Dade County, the current Tamiami Trail runs parallel to the original road. There is a section of the original road which can be reached and walked. It still has the failing pavement of it's past life. At one time it looked like the image below (source: Florida Memory).

We spotted this gulf fritillary on the walk to the trail.

Navigating the trail ranged from wide open stretches to ducking under nature as it reclaimed what it owns.

An old stripe still faintly marks the center of the old road.

A painted cross and survey marker are still visible.

This isn't a place to walk your dogs. The sunny areas were heavy with mother of million plants which is toxic to animals through heart failure.

Along the road are clear heavy trails leading from the old road to the canal remains. They are the paths of the alligators. This is a place where animals come and die. Their remains are very common on the road.

We found the cache and made our way back with no alligator encounters. Although I missed ducking and took a stick in my eye. It hurt massively, but there was no blood. It would be later on when I was trying to drive when I realized I had scratched my cornea.

Our next stop was to find a cache at the original air boat ride. We were too late for a ride, but found the cache and enjoyed the last of the day's sun.

I'm curious about an air boat ride. Would it be an amazing photo opportunity or would it be a diversion from our normal day? Maybe someday we will decide to take a chance. I don't have a great track record on side activities.

We were once again treated to the rising snow moon as we finished our day on the trail.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

9 February 2017 Crew

We started our day with a return to the Bird Rookery Swamp. We visited here on our prior visit for what became one of my favorite hikes of all time. I was happy to make a return visit if only for a short walk. Before we reached the parking area, we made a roadside stop to look at a few wood storks.

The parking lot had signs warning of vulture attacks on cars. We were laughing at the signs, but added what few plastic bags we had to the georental. I don't know if it worked, but the rubber was intact on our return.

Even before we reached the boardwalk, we passed a number of coots and a nice heron.

We didn't walk far past the boardwalk. There was a wet area which was a bird hot spot on our last visit. Today the area was quite save a heron. While we were there a nature walk group was returning from a visit. We stopped for a moment as they were passing through. We saw a swirl alongside the trail followed by a gator popping on the bank with a large catfish. It is very strange being that close to an alligator feeding and hearing the bones of another creature being crushed. In my moment of shock there were no pictures. ;(

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was crowded. We had gotten used to visiting places with few people. The trails here were loaded with sights.

The early boardwalk was a good location to spot lizards and a number of butterflies including a ruddy daggerwing.

We spotted the very attractive swamp lily during our walk.

The black racer was difficult to spot in the vegetation.

The Florida Red Belly was a new turtle for us.

We started our journey at Corkscrew Swamp with plans to complete the earthcache. As our walk continued on, we both realized the earthcache was not interesting and was actually detracting from our time at the center. We put it aside not long after completing a water depth exercise.

The variety of herons was amazing.

Turtle Congo Line

Our last stop was a return to CREW for a late afternoon walk. After a very close visit with a gopher tortoise, we enjoyed a quiet, late afternoon walk.

Regrowth after a burn

At the end of the day, we were treated to the rise of the snow moon. It was a strange name for a moon rising over the southern Florida landscape.