Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Hike through Lemon Bay Park on Christmas Day

The trail through Lemon Bay Park is a couple of miles in length, starting with a paving stone area around a butterfly garden, where native plants are nicely labeled.
Lop-Sided Indian Grass
Muhly Grass
Red Pentas

Gaillardia and many more!

Benches are located about every 100 yards so you can stop to watch for birds and wild life.
Oak trees form a canopy over much of the trail.
We spotted this tortoise on the side of the trail about a mile in.
Ferns filled one whole section of the trail.
Spanish moss and palmetto plants
This Pine burl looked like someone had carved a bear head on the tree.
At one point, a side trail took us to this beach on Lemon Bay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Boating on Lemon Bay

Although it has been warm and sunny, it has been breezy, so we have put off taking the boat out.  Over the weekend, it was calm, but weekends are so busy on the waters that we decided to wait until Monday for our boat ride.
Fran and Patti, Glen and DeeDee and Ron and I headed out for Venice.
We always see birds on the mangrove islands, but I have never seen so many brown pelicans in one place.
I think the schools of mullet in the canals are what caused so many birds to be congregated here.
The canal between Englewood and Venice was full of mullet fishermen of all kinds.  These guys were impressive in their ability to throw an eight-foot diameter net into a perfect circle and then drag it up full of the heavy fish.
We pulled into "Pop's" for lunch and then to the fuel dock to fill the boat.  It was a great day for an outing in Lemon Bay with friends!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beaches and Sights of Venice

The south end of Venice Island, FL, is mostly city parks.
The first access to the beach is at Maxine Barritt Park.
Sharky's Restaurant is nestled between two parks and also has beach frontage and a long pier in front of the restaurant.
On the other side of Sharky's Pier 
is the Service Club Park
Where on the 3rd Saturday of every month, Florida Underwater Sports sponsors a weekend scuba dive.  Dunkin' Donuts supplies donuts and coffee for divers and the company logs divers in and pairs them up if they come alone to dive.
So, what they are diving for is mostly big shark teeth, such as this one.  This diver let us hold the big tooth and told us he dives every day for teeth and sells them to tourist shops in town.  
After thinking about it, we went back and asked him if the teeth he had were for sale, and how much.  To our dismay, this one was in the $1200 category.  Pretty and amazing, but definitely out of our price range.  I was tempted to rush back and get my snorkel and mask, but we were on a bike ride, so we continued on.
On our way up Venice Avenue, we came across this amazing Christmas decorative display.
The median had natural decorations - such as these Banyan trees,
and multiple colors of Hibiscus.
The shopping district of Venice has multiple dolphin 
statues, painted in colorful designs,
with turtles also taking their place on the avenue
making it an interesting place to walk.
Since we were in Venice, we stopped at Nokomis Groves,
and had a dish of chocolate/lime swirled ice cream.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Some Birds of SW Florida

I love bird watching - and the big water fowl are my favorites.  In the winter, many migratory birds join the year round residents of the southwest Florida coast.
The Snowy Egret is also called the "Golden Slipper Bird" because of its black legs and golden feet.  They were hunted nearly to extinction years ago when ladies loved their fluffy feathers for their fancy hats.
Double Crested Cormorants love channel markers for resting while watching for fish. They have webbed feet.
 A group of white ibis that roams our neighborhood.  You can spot the immature one by his spots.
 Sandhill cranes are common in the neighborhood.
 Cattle Egrets are common everywhere - especially in the cattle fields, where every cow has its own egret.
 Great white egret - there is a morph of a great blue heron in this area also that looks almost identical to the great white egret.  You can spot them by their yellow legs.
Little blue heron - white when immature but you can spot them by their greenish bill, legs, and feet.
Great blue heron - we see them all the way from Washington to Florida.
Osprey - starting a nest on a channel marker.
 Both black vultures and turkey vultures (with red heads) are common and often flock together.
 Brown pelicans are abundant along the shores.
 Sandhill cranes - usually seen in pairs.
 Seagulls normally seen in flocks.
 I spotted this vulture on the neighbor's roof.
Anhinga - often seen with spread wings as they have no oil glands so they need to dry out after they dive for dinner.
 Another Snowy Egret
 Tri-color heron - at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Wood Stork - supposedly endangered, but we see them in the drainage ditches along the highways often.
To see a variety of birds in one place, Ding Darling refuge is the best place for bird watching.  They have several overlook platforms  throughout the refuge.