Thursday, January 26, 2017

John's Pass and DeSoto National Mem., Tampa Area

While in the Tampa area we also spent an afternoon at Johns Pass,  a picturesque boardwalk area on the west side of St. Petersburg.  We had a nice stroll around and had lunch at Scully's on the boardwalk.  We watched dolphins, pelicans and other sea life as we ate.  Very relaxing!

After lunch we strolled the shops off the boardwalk, took in the color and visited a winery and brewery:

a pelican checks us out on his way by
watching dolphins from our table at Sculley's

                                                                                                fun, colorful and on the waterfront!
above the winery which was mostly fruit wines........

.....was the Mad Beach Brewery.  They had some good ones!!

DeSoto National Memorial
commemorates the landing of
the Spanish conquistadors and
their exploration of this part of

There is also a memorial dedicated
to all the Catholic priests
serving in Florida and the 12
priests who accompanied the

a nice little trail takes you around the point on the Manatee River where you will come across the Catholic memorial

A very pleasant trail
through the mangroves helps
one to get a feel for what it must have been like for the Spanish
arriving here and seeing the
area for the first time.  No trail
then, they had to hack their way through the mangroves.

a fisherman stands chest deep in the
Manatee River near sunset

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sawgrass State Park and TECO, St. Petersburg, FL

The RV park we are staying at here in St. Petersburg butts right up against Sawgrass State Park and when we found out it has over a mile of boardwalk through the wetlands we had to check it out.  Unfortunately we can not access it from our park (Roberts Mobile Home and RV Resort).  We had to hop in the jeep and drive around to the entrance a few miles away. A wonderful wetlands in the midst of very busy, traffic noisy area.  I had no idea how populated and crazy this part of Florida was!

over a mile of boardwalk

these wetland birds are limpkins!  A new bird sighting!!

A male anhinga preening

and a lizard with a tint of blue
 Looking down over the boardwalk we spotted a mother alligator with 2 dozen babies....that we could see!  May have been more.  Note the difference in sizes amongst the siblings!

viewing tower ahead

a moor hen plucking a tasty plant

ibis among the water plants
 At TECO, Tampa Electric Company, there is a manatee viewing platform.  Manatees gather here in large numbers when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees to bask in the warm, clean water coming out of the plant.  We had done research and knew we would probably not get to see them close up but went to check out the numbers anyway and had a good time seeing not only the manatees from a distance but, sharks, tarpons, sheepshead, jacks, grouper and other fish.

They also have a boardwalk across wetlands, more open, but a nice walk:

plenty of info on these interesting creatures
several manatees just under the water with one tail showing

bit better view of this one

from the nature boardwalk looking toward where the manatees hang out

always enjoying!
a nearby osprey looking for opportunities 

a black tipped shark in the water below
wonder if this heron wishes he were a little bigger:)

A nurse shark swims by

large schools of tarpon in the area

sheeps head

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coastal Everglades

After enjoying the holidays with family in various places and our return being delayed by a couple of days due to weather, Mike and I are now back in Florida.  Happy New Year to all!

We squeezed in one more trip to the Everglades. This time the Flamingo area which is the southernmost headquarters of the park and right on the coast in the Florida Bay.  We were hoping to see flamingos, crocodiles and manatees and maybe rent a canoe.

We did get to see two of the three very close to the visitor center!  We were told it was too cold for the flamingos right now (had a few nights in the high 50s) but that we might see some roseate spoonbills nesting in the trees of one of the inland ponds.  Unfortunately, we were not able to spot any of them either.

It was good to be back in shorts after being bundled up for a full month;)

we saw manatees right away in the marina, unfortunately, the water is not clear as it is so close to the bay

two snouts popping up for air...

my best pic of theses gentle creatures

these iridescent fish were hanging out in the marina also, very cool 

heading down the canal in our 4 hour canoe rental

Our only sighting of a croc in the canal itself was this foot long baby sunning on a rock.....

On our way back to the marina, he had turned to smile at us;)

lovely and calm....for a while then the wind picked up

mangrove alley

this young man was trying to do a little sun bathing but the clouds were hanging around

after 3 hours of paddling Mike is still smiling
Back at the marina area, hanging around an old dam separating the bay area from the canal, we found more crocs:
crocs teeth go every which way, from behind you can see one sticking out of the side of this ones mouth

from the front, you can see he/she is fairly young at 5 ft long with those beautiful white teeth

these two are very large and old with the one in back being ancient.....look, no teeth!! 
this close up shows how the lower teeth actually pierce the upper jaw

this ospreys nest was right on the dam and she did not seem to mind the people checking her out.  it was
still difficult getting pics of her as
she was not going to get up for us.
I'm thinking she was trying to keep
some eggs warm!
Though we did not see any roseate spoonbills at Paroutis Pond as we had hoped, we did see wood storks hanging out there!

late afternoon light on a red shouldered hawk

US Army Corp of Engineers Park, Iowa City, IA

Mike and I love it when we can find a COE park because they are always on water and our last stop at Coralville Lake was no exception.  A bi...