wood storks

Baby Birds Coming to the Bridge

Baby Birds Coming to the Bridge

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

I went to Myakka River State Park today to see if I'd be lucky enough to see the turkey strutting through the meadow but he was no where to be found. So I continued on to the weir.  Generally I walk through the woods to get to the weir.

Such remarkable beauty to see the oak trees bedecked with the Spanish moss or to even see the soaring palm trees stretching up to get their piece of the sun.

Today I learned something new.  There's another way to get to the weir.  A path has been "carved" through the grasses and runs along the Upper Lake.

It goes right to the base of the weir.  A welcoming party of Vultures and Anhingas will even be there there to greet you and engage you in conversation should you so desire.

I personally love to "talk" with the vultures.  Whether it's a close-up,

or a full-bodied shot, the vultures always seem ready and eager to please. 

I'm not so sure about the wood storks.  I love the wood storks and find them an interesting bird to photograph but I'm not so sure they're operating on "all fours" if they can mosey by an alligator, have the alligator make a half-hearted lunge for having had his sleep disturbed and the only reaction from the wood stork is a slight ruffling of his feathers.

The wood stork apparently finds nothing formidable in an alligator. 

Since we're on the subject of birds, do you ever wonder why some people mistakenly believe that birds would be safer in a world without alligators?  They must think that birds are at the mercy of the alligators who prey on them.  Check out a close-up of this Great Blue Heron.  In his world, no doubt his prey would be trembling at being in HIS sights.  The intensity of the eyes...the sharpness of that beak...sure would hate to be on the receiving end of THAT power.

Personally I think it's important to understand and accept there is room on this planet for all of us.  When you start to point the finger at one species, there could be someone else pointing the finger at you.  It's best to just move over and make room.  

Speaking of that, there is new life that is coming to the bridge.  A Great Blue Heron has made a nest on one of the islands in the middle of the river and is hoping the world will soon make room for her little ones.  I didn't personally notice the nest was there, but one of the volunteers for Friends of Myakka was working at the bridge today and was talking about what visitors could see from the bridge.  I thought she was about to tell me about the alligators or the limpkins but instead she surprised me with the news of the nest.  It just so happened that Mom was on the nest when she pointed out its location but later, Mom lowered herself down into the nest.  The next time you go to Myakka River State Park, bring your binoculars and check out the nest.  Maybe you'll see Mom or maybe the eggs will be hatched and one of the little ones will be peeking up out of the nest but you won't see them without your binoculars.  Look on the canopy side of the river and at least maybe you'll see bedraggled parents coming and going from the nest.

The river is looking mighty pretty at the bridge too.  Bring a camera!!  (Don't forget to photograph the vultures at the weir.  They sometimes feel neglected....)

Strutting With the Turkeys

Strutting With the Turkeys

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Talk about strutting your stuff.  That's exactly what I witnessed when I came upon a flock of turkeys at Myakka River State Park.  I had just gotten to the split and turned in the direction of the boat launch/canoe livery when several hens came trotting out of the field, across the road and into the campgrounds.  By the time I stopped my car, they were gone, but still in the field was MR. HOT-TO-TROT and a few of his lucky admirers.

He must have been feeling pretty good as he strutted magnificently in and among the girls.  I could see them whispering to one another how cute he was. Dropping his wings down to allow his primary wing feathers to touch the ground and then lifting his tail and fanning it out in all its glory was broadcasting to the ladies, "I'm the MAN!"  This is also called a STRUT and is how a male turkey meets his women.

It was certainly evident that this was one turkey who knew how to "work it" and since I was standing between him and his harem on my side of the road, I felt it best to leave so he could take his strut and work his magic among interested parties on my side of the road as well.

My next stop was the weir and a kindly woodstork was the first to announce my arrival. A snowy egret wasn't at all interested in making my acquaintance and in fact, gave me a rather "chilly" reception.

However, the roseate spoonbills looked as though they might be in a playful mood and appreciate some company but they were so far away that it wasn't practical to engage with them.  Who knows, maybe it was all just an act anyway.

It was getting too busy to find out, so my last stop was to at least check on the alligators along my favorite trail.  It was still early in the morning and I wasn't sure if I'd find many out on the banks, but I did see a few.  Because I had noticed an alligator swimming down the river, I knew I could get a nicer vantage point with the sun in a better position if I just went up a few more yards and photographed the other one already out on the bank.  I continued down the trail another ten to twenty yards and took the next cleared area to the river.

It's not a launch area for a kayak.  It's just a viewing area to better see the river or any alligators which might be out and about.  To my surprise, there WAS one out and about and he was NOT on the other side of the river.  He was RIGHT BELOW ME!  At first I thought it was a log.  My second look said, "Whoa....Alligator...."   I managed to get 2 quick shots before I high-tailed it out of there--no strutting for me!!

Sure was glad this alligator did not feel threatened.

Expect the Unexpected

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Expect the Unexpected

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Expect the unexpected would be a great slogan for Myakka River State Park.  You just never know what you might see or NOT see.  In fact it took two men to point out something that was "hiding" in plain sight...an alligator in camo!  This guy was so well camouflaged that I NEVER would have seen him had these men not first called my attention to the alligator disguised as a clump of moss hanging out right below where we were talking.  They estimated he was about 5 foot in length.  When I asked if they were worried about our being too close to him, they assured me that we just had to be ready to run fast...faster than the other guy!  (I think I was the "other guy....")

I also didn't expect to see a "decorated" tree at Myakka but that's what I saw when the proverbial "partridge in a pear tree" became instead a congregation of wood storks.  In the tree or on the ground, they seemed to have found a wonderful secluded respite for their migration.

Those among them who didn't need a rest were instead entertaining the masses with their gymnastic and balancing routines.

The dare-devils were out in full force too.  Nonchalantly a group of ibis couldn't be bothered to fly over the alligator.  Instead they took their dining excursion to the extreme.

Maybe the birds think they are too fast to be caught.  Even a tricolored heron had no problem wandering around in the alligator-infested waters of the Myakka....

Of course it did give him an opportunity to chat up a nearby Limpkin.

The black necked stilts had been too stand-offish and another little guy was just too shy.

Limpkins are always good for conversation.

Too bad the more social vultures were not closer to where the heron was hanging out.  No doubt they would have been engaging conversationalists.  I'm sure many are talking about how pretty the park is.

The brightly-colored emerald-green grass must have drawn the birds to the park in droves.  Hanging out in the fields or trees.

Or hanging out along the river, they were all there.... When will you be there???