January 18, 2018

Frolicking Manatee

Manatee 

Recently, the entire SDP team visited Blue Spring State Park in Florida. The St. Johns River runs through the park and during the colder, winter months the constant 73 degree water flowing from Blue Spring attracts manatees. Knowing this, we visited the park on a chilly afternoon on the hunt for manatees. We were not disappointed! The day we were there 380+ had been counted by park rangers and volunteers. Manatees as far as the eye could see! And, these manatees were quite active and playful. Not sure if it was because of the flow of the spring water, but I've never seen manatees so animated! The one pictured was underwater playing with a downed tree limb. (I especially like his little white toenails.)  Manatees can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and eat 10-15% of their weight everyday in vegetation.  These big, lovable sea cows don't have any natural enemies -- just boaters that might not see them, which is why manatee zones are prevalent in Florida, requiring boaters to slow down.  Great visit -- the SDP team definitely will return!    

January 16, 2018

Touch Down!

Bald Eagle 

The eagle has landed! I visited the eagle nest in N. Fort Myers over the weekend to see if I could catch a glimpse of the two little eaglets in the nest. They're less than a month old, and while they're growing fast, they're probably still too little to be able to peer over their nest.  The past several years, a few traumatic changes have occurred at the nest: Ozzie (the male) died and Harriet was courted by a new suitor (M-15). The  couple has produced several eaglets, but, unfortunately, they haven't all survived, which has been tough for some people around the world who get very attached to these creatures as they watch them via a live webcam. The Eagle Cam is still tracking every movement in the nest...from an adult landing with a fish for lunch, to feeding the little ones, to taking off for a little quiet time away from the nest.  A word of warning: Watching these creatures is addicting!  By the way, Jack from Naples & Hartford in Season also visited the nest a few weeks ago and captured some amazing photos.

January 11, 2018

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler 

I knew this cute little guy was a warbler.  But, the question was...What kind of warbler? Turns out it's a prairie warbler, which, according to bird guide descriptions, lives in the south and east -- but, not on prairies. Go figure. I spotted him at Six Mile Cypress Preserve.  He was flitting from branch to branch so quickly, it was quite a challenge to get a decent shot. This is one colorful songbird I definitely could spend more time observing.

January 10, 2018

Sunbathing

Sunbathing

The last two times I've visited Six Mile Cypress Slough I've spotted an alligator sunbathing on this raft in the middle of a lake.  (I love how its tail is hanging over the edge in this shot.)  No threat to us humans -- no one should be swimming here since this is a nature preserve. And, a glorious one it is! I thought the preserve was fairly new but it turns out voters in Lee County approved the purchase of the property back in the 1970s. What's especially interesting is how it got on the ballot. A group of high school students in an environmental class used to take field trips here. They were concerned future construction would destroy the wetlands and wildlife, so they were proactive and set out to save this slice of old Florida.  They gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot in 1976 asking voters to increase taxes to fund the purchase and preservation of the property. The measure passed (thankfully).  Great place...great, inspiring story!