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Archive for May 22nd, 2007

The REAL Florida

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From the left bank came the guttural grunt of a bull alligator, from the right the higher-pitched yip of a female we presumed. We were anchored between them on an inlet of the St. John’s River Sunday. Jerry, our son Stephen, and I munched on sandwiches and I concentrated on getting a picture of my favorite bird—an anhinga. Next time I vowed to bring the tape recorder. It seemed such a shame to not take away the vocals of the giant reptiles. Only as we pulled anchor and cruised away did Jerry remind me that the video on my camera has sound. Good timing.

A life unrecorded is apparently not a life in this day and age, and I have obviously succumbed to such thinking. Minus the gator grunts you can go along on an excursion in the real Florida through the pictures posted above.

 St. John’s riverbank: Palms and vultures who have “adopted this shoreline”
 Limpkin hunting snails: He was beautiful and tame as a pet.
 Cormorant perched on palm tree stubs: Stocky water birds.
 One of many alligators we saw on trip through Lake Jesup: the lake with the most alligators in the state of Florida. Note the crushed vegetation where he and his pals hang out.
 Cattle: Yes, Florida has cattle, lots of them.
 Coreopsis, Florida’s State Wildflower: Comes in several colors. Birds feast on the seeds.
 Osprey nest: Yes, it is as big as it looks.
 Anhinga: He’s also called a snakebird because his long neck appears to be a snake when sticking out from the water, trolling for fish. His feet are comical webbed monsters great for clinging to branches. Clinging to branches is something he does a lot because his feathers do not have the oily coating of other water birds and he must spread them to dry after a dip in order to fly with grace.

So, enjoy a part of Florida you haven’t seen on your trip to Disney, and as you flip through the pictures, imagine being covered with love bugs. These guests show up at our door on May 1 and September 1, but always check out at the end of the month. While you are at it you might as well imagine the gator growls I failed to capture.

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