birds

Spring Has Sprung at Myakka

Now that the first day of spring has arrived, some of the Myakka residents can't help but break out in song.

Once the fields are bedecked in green and no longer covered in water, turkeys can be found scouring the meadows

or sashaying through the woods scratching up any tidbits that might have been left behind.

Old friends can be found gathering at the river to once more talk about their glory days,

while some young'uns hide, hoping their long-winded distant uncle will share his glory days with someone else.

Most, however, feel the excitement that spring brings.  Love is in the air and you can never look too good.

Competition is keen and figuring out what will win the heart of your soulmate is on many a mind. 

Since it's early in the courting season, there's plenty of time to play the field,

and plenty of time to welcome spring whether within a group or by oneself.

The turkeys were out enjoying the day.  Were you?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

A Lesson From the Birds

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Usually when I go to Myakka River State Park, I'm most interested in photographing the alligators, but since the birds seemed to be happily chirping away, I begin to look around to see where they might be nesting.  It didn't take long to see they weren't nesting anywhere.  They were right where the alligators usually are, busily looking for food in the lake and wetland areas.  Perhaps the birds wanted to remind me that the park was more than just alligators.  The planet didn't just belong to the biggest and the strongest.  There could be a place on this planet for all of us.

As I watched one inquisitive bird listening to the sounds my camera was making, I wondered how tough it must be to come to a new land, .intent on making a better life for your loved ones and hoped that any voices they might hear would be voices of encouragement and understanding.

Seeing the heron come upon the "curtain" of plants reminded me of all those obstacles that may be up ahead and hope for bridges to afford safe passage to those seeking a better life.

Seeing the spoonbill and the egret clustered together was a good reminder of how important it is to look out for one another if we all are to have a share in the bounties of the planet.

When I finally saw the alligator WITH the bird,  it demonstrated once more that weak or strong, there can be a place for all, but it's always best to be vigilant to those who may have another agenda.

CREATE A LANDSCAPE FROM MYAKKA'S BEAUTY

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CREATE A LANDSCAPE FROM MYAKKA'S BEAUTY

guest post by Nancy Dobias

Golden meadows kissed by the sun are still yours for the viewing if you happen by Myakka River State Park.  The magnetic draw of the fields must be overpowering as nervous parents throw open their car doors and kids of all ages throw caution to the wind as they race to the fields in delight.  These fields not only have the pull on the human children, but they also beckon fun-loving fawn as well.  Of course, second-nature does govern their behavior.  Curiosity controls the fun-loving abandon as the fawn first peeks through the flowers to determine if we might be a threat.

Since Mom was nearby, she also was consulted.  Mom had years of experience in the park and figured all would be well but she did, however, monitor the area before she was satisfied that her youngster would be safe.

It must not have been the response the youngster expected because he still wasn't quite sure it was safe to leave Mom's side and romp among the wildflowers.  Mom checked once again.

It was then that we decided to let them enjoy their lunch in peace and go elsewhere in the park to check out what was happening.  Since we hadn't been to the weir for awhile, we next drove there to see if it was open.  Although it hasn't been repaired, the path to the weir is open and visitors could walk out to the weir.  At the weir are two pathways through the tall grasses that allow you to view the passageway of water over the weir.  Fish must be abundant because generally birds and alligators can be found congregating near the weir.  You must be careful when you walk through the grasses because you never know what also might be sunning on the banks of the lake.

Although he didn't mind our taking a few pictures of him, after a few minutes of taking pictures enough was enough! Since he wasn't being cooperative, we checked out the other path beside the weir.  The birds were more plentiful here.

The alligators were still around but they weren't as evident.  In fact we never even noticed the one beside the bird.  Birds and alligators live in such close proximity that they seem to tolerate one another quite well.  If you haven't been to the weir in awhile, springtime is a nice time to check out the wildflowers in the vicinity.  It sure makes for a pretty landscape.

Our last stop was to check out the BIRD WALK.  A storm was moving in and we weren't sure how long we had before it hit.  The Bird Walk looks like a fantastic place to view a sunset or sunrise but I don't know if it has the right alignment for that to happen.  It's also a great place to view a storm a'brewing....  Florida storm clouds amaze me.  It's impressive to see how low those clouds can be.

Since the storm was ready to hit, we got off the Bird Walk and as we retraced our way back through the park, we took one last lingering look at that "river of gold" and wondered if the fawn ever did get to take his fun-loving romp through those fields of gold.  It was raining up ahead.  Maybe the fawn might enjoy running through the "sprinkler" too. It sure was an interesting day at the Magical Kingdom of Myakka...a baby alligator who only wanted to cross the road, a fawn who wanted to leap among the wildflowers, alligators who wanted to doze in the grasses and visitors of all ages who couldn't get enough of the park's beauty and appeal.  It's all there.  All you have to do is decide to go.

A Lesson Worth Understanding

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A Lesson Worth Understanding

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

Most people have grown up with an image of Tyrannosaurus rex as THE PREDATOR to avoid if you lived in prehistoric times.  It's difficult to imagine how formidable this creature would have been.  I can remember golfing at Oakford and stopping our golf cart beside the grassy shoreline of one of the many ponds.  Although we were parked there to look for a golf ball, we held up getting out of the cart as we watched a rather large alligator hurriedly trotting across the fairway to get to this pond.  Suddenly some men who were golfing with us yelled, "Look at THAT alligator!"  Naturally my thought was, "Duh, what do you think we are doing??"  Because we were not reacting to the men's caution, one of them again yelled out, "Not that one, the one BESIDE you!"  Well, you can't imagine how much my heart sped up when I looked down and there beside our cart was the biggest and WIDEST alligator I had ever seen--a bull alligator.  Fortunately he did not react to us.  Instead, his "radar" was focused on the alligator who had the audacity to enter his pond.  What an experience that was!

Recently I was reading a Seymour Simon book called CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS and in the book, he mentioned a prehistoric predecessor of the alligators and crocodiles.  This one was named Phobosuchus ("terrible crocodile") and this guy may have been 50 feet long!  His head was thought to be 6 feet in length and his teeth were 4 inches long!!  If I thought the bull alligator at Oakford was formidable, he would have been nothing compared to the Phobosuchus.  

With that in mind, it never ceases to amaze me how seemingly unimpressed the Myakka River State Park birds are as they co-mingle with Myakka's alligators....

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The other day Larry and I were watching some birds "arguing" over who was going to get the snail that one of them had snatched from the water.  While that was unfolding, a little bird came out of nowhere, nonchallantly approached the alligator, and then proceded to walk over the alligator!  The alligator didn't even blink.

It's quite common to see the birds in and among the alligators.  Yes, a tail could unexpectedly lash out...a violent lunge could occur... but it doesn't.  For some reason they have figured out how to live safely with one another.  Each is mindful yet tolerant of the other.  It all works....

When newcomers arrive to the Myakka River, they're not as comfortable being within "strike" range of the BIG GUYS.  I wouldn't say they're totally uncomfortable...just a bit wary....

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Those who are more used to the BIG GUYS are more a' tuned to what they can and cannot do.  No one is being foolish or inattentive.  They follow their innate rules of survival.  When the birds want to take a nap, they don't nap in and among the alligators.  The one bird might have walked over the alligator, but he might not want to do that on a normal basis.   Keeping a "respectful" distance is the key to survival. 

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When I'm at the park, I keep a respectful distance between me and the alligators.  I don't try to take a "selfie" with one of them.  I use a long lens to get up close and personal.  At times it might reveal an injury that the alligator sustained. ...or at other times it allows me to notice a possible birth defect.

But the most important thing that I notice is how well THE FRAGILE and THE FORMIDABLE can live together in harmony, can live together in respect, and can somehow make it all work.