Thursday, October 7, 2010

I want to go Birding!

It's been a long hot summer and I have stayed home in the AC working on my picture files and longing for the cooler weather and the birding season to begin in earnest.  It's now The Labor Day Weekend and I Want to go Birding. Saturday I do the normal grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry all the while contemplating where I can go birding and get some enjoyment without sweating to death cause the weather is HOT & HUMID! I sit looking over maps and birding emails and finally decide on a plan. It probably wasn't the best plan for seeing birds but it would get me out of the house.

So Sunday morning we got up grabbed our gear and some bottled water and took off. Heading for Alligator Alley. It was a beautiful sunny day and the blue sky held a few puffy white clouds floating aimlessly.

Alligator Alley

 I thought sure we would see something out there and I was right. First stop got a group of Turkey Vultures sunning themselves with wings spread. I thought they would hang around so was in no hurry to photograph them. I headed for the lookout tower and as I started up the stairs a Grackle let me know I wasn't wanted up there. But I didn't let that stop me and I continued on.
Go away lady, I was here first
There was a nice few from the top. There were a few fishermen out there but not much else to be seen.
Looking West

Looking East

Save for a few dragonflies and an occasional butterfly but nothing I could really get close enough to to photograph although I did get some fish trying to eat something white. Probably some runaway bait or a leftover sandwich that someone couldn't finish.
Something's fishy

OK, that over with I was ready to try to photograph the Turkey Vultures but alas they had all taken flight. I did manage to get a few flight shots, nothing great but it marks the occasion.
Turkey Vulture

We drove west on Alligator Alley until we reached the Gas Station turn on US833 and headed North toward Lake Okeechobee. This road is almost like driving out in the country on Sunday afternoon. This is a two lane road. Not the usually 4 or 6 lanes that you usually see here in South Florida.
Country road mirage

It was a nice drive with views of pasture lands and orange groves and small clusters of homes. There were horses grazing and cows laying down resting in the shade.
We drove along just enjoying the scenery when all of a sudden in this one section the trees were full of birds and I yelled STOP! STOP! STOP!. Why so many birds in the trees. Were they roosting? Or were they just resting? It seemed a strange site for this time of year. If it were spring then I could understand it. But why in September were all these cattle Egrets sitting in the trees?
Cattle Egrets by the dozens
We continued to drive North without seeing much traffic except for an occasional swamp buggy or an air boat. I would hate to break down out there not sure if I would have any service on my cell phone and traffic was sparse to say the least.


Swamp Buggy
 At one point we came upon a large group of  Black vultures eating on something that smelled so foul we didn't hang around too long to take pictures......PeeU
I don't want to come back as a vulture.........eweeee the smell!
Before stopping at Pahokee we check out this other area and saw a little park which we didn't investigate as it was too hot and a boat ramp. Here we found a cormorant. You can just male it out at the end of the dock.
Boat Ramp - Can you find the Cormorant?
Soon we came into a more civilized area and stopped for lunch at the local hamburger joint. After a brief stop for lunch we started to head to Pahokee and Lake access.
Pahokee Water Tower - Where's the Osprey?
I was disappointed in our stop here as things have changed since my last visit. There use to be a lookout tower here and it is gone. I remember climbing to the top. Not an easy job but I did it. Also the area that we used to pull over next to the water has been turned into a private camp ground the dock area is closed to the public and turned into some kind of yacht club with out the yachts.......
Moored Boats 
Although the public can't enjoy the dock area the Gulls are taking advantage of it.
Gulls on the docks
One can not really capture the vastness of this lake, but take my word for it it is huge. As far as the eye can see it's water.
Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee looking toward the docks

Our originally plan called for traveling all the way around the lake but by this time it was late afternoon and we  had just begun. so we called it good and headed for Rt. 27 and home. On the way home we hit some rain showers as well as lots of flycatchers hawking bugs brought out by the rain. Sometimes these birds would just miss hitting out car and there were sooo many of them flying fast and furious. It was a little scary and I didn't want them to get hit but also at the same time fun to see them in action and to be surrounded by so many of them. (no pictures they fly way too fast for me)

Rain is coming

Storm over the Sugarcane
Getting closer to home

Traffic, Traffic, everywhere
The end of a perfect day!