The Vanity of an Eagle

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The Vanity of an Eagle

Nancy Dobias

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

When I went to the Bayonne Preserve Tuesday morning, I was hoping to get some fierce regal shots of the eagles who have a nest there.  Instead, I got an eagle who was primping.  On and on and on, the eagle went...fluffing the feathers, air-drying the feathers, preening the feathers, air-drying the feathers....on and on and on and on.

"How long can it possibly take to be satisfied with your look?" I complained to myself.  "My sister didn't even take this long!" I lamented but still the eagle continued the primping....and still the air-drying of feathers continued.

"Perhaps if I try another angle?" I thought.  "Maybe the regal bearing can be had from another angle...." I postulated.  For a second I thought I might have nailed it.  The eagle took notice of where I had moved, but that look of disdain told me the eagle just found me annoying.

Once more the eagle resumed the obnoxious primping and fluffing....  ("PLEASE, NO MORE AIR-DRYING!  PLEASE, PLEASE!" I said to myself.)

After quite some time I thought I might finally get the chance of photographing one of those haughty looks which eagles do so well.  In the distance I spotted some white birds headed our way.  "Surely the eagle will put on his game face when those birds fly closer," I said.  "The eagle is bound to react." I thought.  Well, the white birds soared closer.  The white birds soared overhead.  The eagle did not react!  The only one who did react was me.  The birds were white pelicans!  What a magnificent wing span they had and the eagle could have cared less.  The only one who was impressed was me!  It's too bad I didn't at least get the pelicans in focus.

On the positive side, the eagle must have sensed my being impressed with the pelicans because just for a moment, the eagle allowed me to see a little of the impressive side of an eagle.

It sure can be frustrating trying to get an eagle to cooperate.

Deep Hole Hikes are Back!

Take a guided hike to the mysterious Deep Hole at Lower Myakka Lake in the park’s wilderness preserve. The area is usually one of the best places in the park to view eagles, wading birds like roseate spoonbills and sandhill cranes, ducks, shorebirds, and alligators. This is a 5-mile hike through moderately rough terrain, on sandy soils and along the lakeshore.

  • Reservations Required for scheduled hikes – Limit 6 participants per scheduled trip. 
  • Suggested donation for guided hike: $20 per person (Park entrance fees will not be charged.)
  • Months: December thru April
  • Times: 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon
  • Scheduled Hike Dates: the hikes are scheduled for the first and third Wednesdays of every month December through April. 
  1. January 17th, 2018
  2. February 7th, 2018
  3. February 21st, 2018
  4. March 7th, 2018
  5. March 21st, 2018
  6. April 4th, 2018
  7. April 18th, 2018

Here is the sign up link:

Guided Deep Hole Hikes

This exclusive trip is sponsored by Friends of Myakka River. Your fee/donation will be used to help care for the park and river.

A Clarion Call From a Heron

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A Clarion Call From a Heron

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

When Floridians complain about it being entirely too cold, they're probably referring to temperatures in the 50's.    Boots come out of closets, coats, hats and gloves are donned and everyone walks a little happier with a zip in their step, for a day or two, before they want to know when all this cold will JUST GO AWAY!  

When I went to Myakka River State Park, even the alligators looked as though they were feeling the low temps.  Huddled together in groups along the shoreline of the Myakka River, you wished the park could issue them all solar warming blankets to help bring up their core body temps. Because that didn't happen, most of the alligators were taking advantage of the solar heat by being out of the river, soaking up warmth from the sun. 

No doubt most were enjoying their "spa" time along the river.

At least they were until I happened along.  That's when a very "helpful" blue heron swooped over the river "screaming" her pterodactyl warning that danger was near.  "SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH, SPLASH...."  Within nanoseconds, 8 of the 10 alligators plunged into the cold waters of the Myakka River.  Gone were their plans to bask in the warming rays.  Gone was MY chance to photograph a great group of alligators.  There were now 8 very annoyed alligators in the river.

As I waited patiently along the beach for their annoyance to abate, I kept scanning the river to track where they had all gone.   About 15 minutes later, 5-6 started to make their way back on shore...back to the warming rays.

As I awaited the others to come out of the cold river, suddenly that noisy ANNOYING blue heron once more sounded her alarm.   This was more of a half-hearted alarm.  Because I had been looking through my camera, I had wondered why the alligators didn't react to the alarm as they had before.  "Were they used to my being there or was it just because it wasn't as loud as before?" I wondered.  Bringing my my camera down, I looked around.  I scanned the river...I scanned the opposite shoreline.  Then I looked on MY side of the river....about 20 feet away from where I was standing.

I guess that "annoying" blue heron isn't so "annoying" after all!

Myakka Magic During the Holiday Season

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Myakka Magic During the Holiday Season

Guest post by Nancy Dobias 

It’s incredible how many people spend their holidays at Myakka River State Park.  When we first drove through the park on Christmas Eve and I saw all the tents and campers, I couldn’t help but wonder how Rudolph would maneuver Santa’s sleigh through all these huge oak canopies....or how would Santa be able to move quietly over this twig-strewn ground delivering his goodies without waking anyone....  It seemed a dilemma but maybe that’s part of the magic.  It was wonderful to see even the alligators making their homes ready for Santa to deliver his goodies...so many dreamy looks as they pondered what they might receive....

I wonder what alligators want Santa to bring them....  If I were an alligator, I would want Santa to grant me a river, some wetlands or marshlands and a sunny bank and a nice cozy cave in which to relax where no one would bother me and wish me harm.    I think they have found it at Myakka River State Park.  All of the people who come to the park and make it a point to view the alligators are sure proof that there are many people who want that wish to come true as well!

New Year’s Eve was busier than Christmas Eve.  All parts of the park had visitors.  Several cars were parked below all the hiking trails, the canopy walk had an abundance of visitors, the bridge had people on both sides either fishing or taking pictures of the many alligators swimming along or treading water nearby and of course the weir had been discovered!  There were people coming non-stop down to the viewing platform to take some pictures or to enjoy the view.  I asked Larry if there was a path on the other side of the parking lot to the lake that we could explore.  I didn’t realize that a path to me is not the same thing as a path to Larry....  I expected a NORMAL PATH.  Instead, we went down a “path” that one or two people before us might have trod....

When we got to the lake, there were a few people out on the lake in canoes or other types of smaller boats.  I would like to think the birds were there to greet us and wish us a Happy New Year but they were annoyed at our interrupting their dinner hour as we made our way along the lake’s edge in the direction of the weir.  As we neared the vultures, we could see they were ogling all the rubber windshield wiper blades.  They looked as though they were hatching a major plan and we noticed one of the herons trying her best to find out what those plans were.  

As we looked around to see if other birds were paying those vultures any mind, they seemed oblivious.  The heron must have set herself up as as the sentinel for the weir. The other birds did not seem to care one iota what capricious schemes those vultures might have been concocting.  Instead we saw a snowy egret practicing her runway technique.  She was oblivious to any kind of pranks the vultures might have been planning.  As far as she was concerned, the most pressing order of the day was to get those cameras trained on her and she did everything possible to accomplish that!

Still that heron remained vigilant and still the other birds remained oblivious.... Even the alligators on the far shore were not interested in what nefarious plans the vultures might have been hatching.   I guess as long as the heron was on guard, the other birds were confident that nothing was going to happen.  She must be pretty good at her job because nothing did happen while we were there.  The vultures did behave and all the cars had their windshield wipers still in place when we returned to the parking lot.

Before we left the park, we took a few more pictures of why folks are attracted to Myakka River State Park during the holiday season.  There are only so many times you can park yourself on the beach.  Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and experience nature.  Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and DO something.  Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and explore somewhere.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be....

Yes, Santa’s gifts are not always things you get from stores.  Sometimes it’s the magic of being somewhere special.

HOPE EVERYONE HAS A WONDERFUL, SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  May we all appreciate how priceless are those gifts that come without a pricetag attached.