Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One Very Unusual Day

Did you ever have a day turn out so different from your expectations?  That happened to us on Sunday.  After church we changed clothes and made plans to go to the beach in Fort Myers.  Upon arrival in Fort Myers Beach we noticed that many others had the same idea which we had.  Perhaps because it was a warm day many others like us were out, consequently parking prices were jacked up quite high and traffic was heavy.  We opted instead to drive over to Estero Island and explore the Mantanzas Pass Preserve.  A boardwalk is available for walking through the watery preserve which has a variety of mangroves.   After we had just started out I heard a rustle of wings and looked further ahead of us on the boardwalk at a large black bird.  He flew above us into a tree and squawked angrily.  It was a black vulture, his tail is shorter than a turkey vulture and does not have the red head.  I was pleased that we could get a close view of him.
We did not have to walk much further before we found what he and his friends were after, a dead rabbit.  I had fears of the vultures dive bombing us to protect their food, but they left us alone.  Further into the preserve a yellow-crowned night heron stood close to our path.
He was peering very  intently into a thicket of brush in front of him and paid us no mind, even when we walked past him.  While watching him the heavens suddenly opened and we got caught in a downpour.  We were fortunate that close by us was a strand of trees and saw palmetto, which kept us quite dry.  We hurriedly left the preserve at that point, as the skies were filled with some very dark clouds.  When we drove back to Fort Myers Beach the roads were again jammed with traffic leaving the town.  We had a clear road heading in the opposite direction, so we continued on that to Lovers Key State Park.  By the time we arrived there the skies were starting to clear and the sun was coming out- time for our walk on the beach!
Soon after we were on the beach our attention was drawn to an osprey doing unusual acrobatics in the sky.  He soon settled down on a tree branch to munch on some fish he had caught.  We saw him then take the fish to a nearby nest, at which point he suddenly flew from the nest to attack a hawk which was flying by.
We had one more interesting experience with birds while on the beach.  A juvenile double-crested cormorant nonchalantly walked passed us.  We at first thought it an anhinga, but its' hooked bill told us otherwise.   He was so cute with that duck waddle and webbed feet flapping on the sand.   There were many different birds out on the beach, perhaps because there were not many people around.  Pelicans were in the water, as well as plovers, willets and terns on the beach.  The ibis were also out actively digging for food in the sand.  It was one of those wonderful days when, without actively searching for wildlife, they instead came to us!  We had seen a lot, and had not even carried a binoculars.

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