Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 148
I see that some snow is still falling on you folks up north, but it is in the eighties down here on Sanibel Island and the water is also very nice. Just before leaving, there was a world of birds still using the feeders and several birds feeding on the carcasses on the dam. The last evening, I had a mature and immature Bald Eagle feeding right up until dark. The bunch of Slate-colored Juncos that had come out of the woods or moved north were under the feeders right until dark also. I banded several new Juncos the day before we left and many American Goldfinch and Purple Finch. Once I had four Goldfinch in one compartment in the Potter trap and one in each of the other compartments. That was seven that are now wearing bands.
We traveled south through some of the severe weather that was coming across the country in between the hot and cold air masses. We had rain and wind much of the way and it always was the worst when Karen was driving. We had a combination of rain and fog; actually I think it was a cloud that we were going through on top of the mountain on I-77 in North Carolina. The last time we hit that same situation years ago, cars didn’t slow down. They were driving 55 and 60 MPH and disappearing in the fog instantly. It was one of the scariest times when I was driving. While on this trip, everyone slowed down and they were using their four-way flashers and we made it over the mountain to where we could see the big open valley below us which was a welcome sight. The rain continued, but it was light, and we got the car washed. We saw no accidents, not even fender benders. Karen was in a couple slow downs on I-75 and people were in and out of their lanes trying to get ahead and luckily, they all made it through without hitting someone else. One place just south of Ocala, the north bound lane was at a stand-still for over twelve miles; glad we weren’t in that.
It was nice to get back on Sanibel again. The traffic here is not bad and the biking is great. We haven’t gotten into Ding Daring National Wildlife Refuge yet and there aren’t many new birds moving in across the Gulf. I did get a Yellow Billed Cuckoo by the lighthouse this morning, 4/4, which is always a good bird. I haven’t seen the Bald Eagle chick in the nest behind the Dairy Queen, but when I was there this morning, they were leaf blowing the parking lot, which may have kept the chick in hiding.
On the way down we stopped at Myakka State Park by Sarasota and took a walk out on the boardwalk there. There is a couple showing others the birds from the boardwalk that have been there every year we have stopped. They live summers in Maine, but each winter they volunteer at the park spotting good birds for others to see. We had a nice chat again this year and they told us a story about the Saratoga Horse Racing Track once they found out we were from near there while growing up. They happened to pass through there during racing season and went to the track. They bet on a horse in one race just because they were there. The horse came in next to last, so they didn’t bet anymore, but they enjoyed watching the other people and the races. There were lots of good birds around the lake there and if you want to see alligators, there are plenty of them to be seen right from the road. There were two Sandhill Cranes walking right down the park road and several more out in the marsh around the lake; some even had young ones.
We are playing our car license plate game again this year and not doing too bad. Only seven to go as we picked up one we didn’t get last year, South Dakota, and Kansas today. While walking through to the beach parking lot yesterday while birding and checking plates, this couple came along with a small sheltie dog that had sunglasses on its head. I asked if they work and the couple said they did and put the glasses over the dog’s eyes. I took its picture and it made my day for sure. People passing by got a kick out of it just as much as I did.
I keep hearing that housing starts are up and it's no wonder: so many have been lost in the fires out west, many others in the hurricanes that came ashore, and the tornadoes that have come through the south every month. New buildings will cost much more than when these places were built, as prices for building materials are sky high.
More things to be seen here on the Island and off, but that’s another story. See ya.
Above photo: Sheltie with sunglasses
Yellow Billed Cuckoo