Saturday, January 29, 2011

Motorcycle Ride to Marianna FL

When we woke up to sunny skies and a forecast for a high of 75 degrees, we immediately thought, "Let's go for a bike ride!"  
First stop - visit our friends, Jesse and Peggy and figure out where to go.  We decided on Blue Springs National Recreation area, and headed south from Dothan, AL toward Marianna, FL.
Blue Springs is the headwater of Spring Creek, which flows into the Chipola River.  Unfortunately, we found that they are only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The old Icehouse Restaurant (now the Riverfront Bar and Grill) sits on Spring Creek just below the springs, so we backtracked to the road that goes to the restaurant and sat by the window watching the fishermen on the other side of the stream.  After a great lunch we walked across the bridge and into the park.
Jesse and Peggy at the canoe launch where my folks and Ron and I launched canoes a few years back and floated Spring Creek and the Chipola River.  Spring Creek is unique as it is crystal clear.  When we floated the creek, we saw divers diving for mastedon bones near the end of the creek where it comes into the river.  Once we got to the river, it was typical of most southern rivers - brown and muddy looking. (Note:  Peggy is NOT smoking, that's her camera.)
Even though it was nice and warm, Ron and I stayed bundled up as we are still recovering from colds.
This is my idea of fishing!
This is an excellent example of "Cypress Knees"
We came home to discover that the blackbirds had discovered out feeders and cleaned us out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bird Watching Trip January 2011

We left on Sunday morning from our home on Lake Eufaula, and headed southwest toward the gulf, with a destination of the eastern coast of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.  We didn't start out to do a bird watching trip, but we saw such a variety of birds that the trip became more than just an adventure to look for sun and warmth.
Just as we left home, we came across a flock of wild turkeys in the cotton field just down the road.
Thousands of red wing blackbirds flying in formation and filling the trees amazed us with their aerial antics as we neared Dothan, Al.  
It was noticeably warmer as the sun chased the clouds away on the west side of the front, and we began to see shore birds in the swamps along I-10.  (Note:  we drove all along the beaches in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas and didn't see a single trace of oil.)
We took the free ferry onto Aransas Island off the east coast of Texas.  Nice and warm and sunny.  This Roseate Spoonbill was busily digging for something along the road on the intercoastal side of the island.

Pelicans of all colors littered every dock and pier.  Some of the birds we saw that I couldn't get a photo of:  Crested Caracara, Mississippi Kite, and many varieties of hawks.  
Most of Padre Island, Texas, is a National Wildlife Sanctuary.  Miles of beaches extend all along the island, with limited access for fishing, beachcombing, swimming, etc. along the Gulf side. This old guy from Michigan spends his winters in an RV near the refuge and fishes every day. He proudly showed us the biggest fish he caught that day.