Vultures Grooming a King?

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Vultures Grooming a King?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

When you go to Myakka River State Park, the posted speed limit signs are there for a reason.  Around the bridge, the posted speed is 5 mph.  Because this is one of the hot spots for viewing Myakka's wildlife, young visitors might dash from one side of the bridge to the other in hopes of counting as many alligators as possible.

Birders wielding binoculars may also be found on the bridge hoping to spot when the Great Blue Heron's little ones might peek above the nest for the first time and take a gander at what is a'waitin'.

Most of the posted speed in the park is 25 mph but if you intend to catch a glimpse of the wildlife, it's best to go a little slower.  At 25 mph, it's not likely you would have spotted a lone turkey strutting his stuff as he looked around for the love of his life.  You might also have missed the "totem pole" created by one of Myakka's more artistic vultures as he greeted all who were entering his domain.

I was certainly glad I spotted both of them.  Instead of going in the direction of the birdwalk, I decided to see what was happening at the weir and I was glad I did.  It was ALLIGATOR CITY at the weir and their hosts were the VULTURES!  I didn't know what was happening, but it must have been important for each alligator seemed to have its own personal grouping of vultures as attendants.  Were they choosing the “King of the River" I wondered?

One vulture seemed to be intent upon making his alligator The Most Attractive as he pecked away at any loose dirt that may have marred the appearance of his friend and affected his chances for the ascendency to the throne.

Another vulture was working on his alligator having The Most Buff Body.  When I saw them, the vulture and an egret were putting the alligator through his paces by having him vigorously swim up and down the channel.  Choosing a king based upon strength and stamina were at the core of their campaign.

Not to be outdone, another macho aficionado was trying to encourage his alligator to race after some limpkins who were grazing along the shoreline.  "Prove your worth" was this vulture's mantra.  Unless the alligator had mastered the art of running with his eyes closed, he didn't look as though any vigorous sprinting was to be in his future.  Perhaps he believed the race did not belong to the swiftest but to he who was the most rested.

After watching them for several minutes, I couldn't help but think that the vultures sure had their work cut out for them with this crew.   From what I saw, these alligators had no interest in anything but a peaceful blissful slumber.

It sure would be interesting to see what happens when night falls.  Maybe one of them WAS listening.

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.

Sharing Dinner With a Local

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Sharing Dinner With a Local

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Going to Myakka River State Park is always a hit and miss as to what you might see.  You might see gorgeous Prairie Irises which are toxic to humans and could cause a severe skin rash upon contact or you might see a wonderful meadow anchored by a gnarled old tree practicing some remarkable gymnastic moves among the palms.

You'll surely see some alligators and no doubt a few may even go out of their way to greet you.

Should any of the locals happen to cross your path, please be courteous and give these folks the right-of-way. t won't take them long to cross the road, return to their habitat and once more be on their way to greener pastures. Who knows...if you're real nice, they might even share a dinner with you.