Thursday, August 24, 2017

7 February 2017 Collier State Park and Picayune Strand State Forest

Today was the new and the old for us. We started the day with a visit to a state park we had not visited and ended the day at a familiar state forest. Our first stop was at Collier State Park. The state park is host to Florida's oldest geocache. After we paid our admission we made our first stop at a tourist spot, the resting place of the Bay City Walking Dredge. This is the remaining dredge of 145 built to dredge the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp to build the Tamiami Trail. The machine dredged the swamp at a rate of five to eight feet every thirty seconds.

Our first cache included a very nice hawk sighting,

Collier has many royal palms. They are tall majestic trees and aquatic plants along the boardwalk.

We moved to a quieter section of the park to hunt the oldest cache in Florida. It seemed a perfect place to see an alligator or two, but there were none today so we just enjoyed the other sights.

Mangrove Buckeye Butterfly

We found it! The oldest cache in Florida and the rustiest ammo can we've found. This one is nearing structrual failure from the rust.

This is an interesting flower that we can't identify.

White Peacock Butterfly

After Collier State Park, we returned to a familiar place for a hike at Picayune Strand State Forest. The forest had been cleared of much of the lower growth of cabbage palms since our last visit. It was a more open walk and an interesting revisit.

Mockingbird on the trail

We missed seeing melaleuca trees on our last visit to Picayune Strand. They are non-native and invasive trees the state is trying to control. They were planted to drain swamps. Now they grow aggressively forcing out native plants. They are weird to touch with a spongy texture that flexes somewhat like a squeezed roll of paper towels.

The Zebra Longwing has been Florida's state butterfly since 1996. They are plentiful, but elusive for images. This was one among many that we saw along a small stretch of trail.

We spotted a number of paw prints on the trail this afternoon, but no panthers. They were about the right size.

Sunset along the Sabal Palm Trail

Thursday, August 17, 2017

6 February 2017 Carlton Preserve and LaBelle

Our first stop of the day was a visit to Carlton Preserve. We were here for a few lonely caches, one of which hadn't been found in two years. We were also here to explore and enjoy the sights. The wild boar grunts we encountered on the trail were just an added bonus. I was really happy the boar wasn't offended by our presence and stopped at a few grunts.

A Trailside Lizard

Part of the preserve had recently been burned. There was a geocache back in the area. We were happy to see the ammo can was at the edge of the burn zone and had survived.

Walking along the tea-colored Myakka River

The Myakka is at least ten feet lower than this grassy area by a pavillion. Considering the rise needed to even flood the grassy area, the top mark for June 2012 was over my head.

As the day wore on we eventually ended up at Port Labelle. After deciding not to hunt a cache at what may be Florida's sleepiest marina and finding a cache in the parking lot of the Port Labelle Inn, I was wondering if it was time to shut down the day, but we made our way to a nearby virtual. The virtual sent us to a nearby park where we we supposed to make an observation about the island at the park. We arrived and same a number of shore birds along the shore with a quiet island behind.

We were a little perplexed as to why there was a virtual here. The we saw the other island. There were many, many birds. More were arriving as we watched.

They kept arriving...

In the midst of all this frenzied bird activity, we were treated to an egret in breeding plumage.

It was an amazing, memorable sight and a great way to end the day.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

5 February 2017 Myakka River State Park

We were barely parked near the trailhead and out of the georental when the shore sightings started at the park. It was a memorable site before we left the parking area.

Success! A number of fish were meals today for the birds on the water.

We really did hike for a bit between watching the water.


We also found some nicely hidden geocaches along the way.

Sychronised fishing

Ou first lizard for the trip

They grow them big along the Myakka.

A long view of the Myakka

All the birds were successful fishing today.

Another cache found

and Another Lizard

We slowly made our way through the park sampling caches and the views.

There were so many beautiful birds here.

Well, maybe not all of them

This was the first boar cage we have seen in the woods.

Ammo cans get rusty in these marshes.

Our last big birding spot of the day was a viewing platform. We were happy to spot some birds we had yet to see on this day.

We were happier for a surprise

or two.

It was interesting to see other people at the platform who were so busy taking selfies they completely missed the one take off from shore and fly over the platform while gaining altitude. We left a lot of unfound caches at the state park for another visit...