The path leading into the live oak forest is hard packed sand and covered with years of fallen leaves, making its color rusty brown. It is early evening and the light filtering through the heavily treed canopy creates long shadows. Some of the trees are huge with thick trunks and long branches giving away their age.
Some of the branches are so heavy they grow toward the ground. The branches are covered with moisture loving green moss and ferns, perfect compliments to these old giants.
We are walking along the trail, enjoying the quite, Howard in the lead with Skye and I bringing up the rear. All of a sudden Howard stops in front of me and I run right into him. He softly tells me, “I saw an owl fly and it landed on a branch just ahead.” We stand still for a few seconds not wanting to scare the owl and then began slowly walking toward the tree. Howard says, “Hand me Skye so you can get closer, I will stay back.”
I walk quietly and slowly not wanting it to fly. My heart is pounding, because it looks like a Barred Owl, which I have never seen in the wild. Oh my gosh, it is a Barred Owl. I am so excited.
I don’t have my camera, but I take a photo with my phone. It isn’t a good photo, because the owl is so high up in the tree and the lighting is not the best.
It doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is standing there in the forest, watching the owl. It stays perched looking around and looking down at me. This encounter was unexpected and amazing.
~The Barred Owl is number 388 on my Birding Life List~
A small heron, adults dark blue-gray with purple-maroon neck, immatures are unique among all herons in that they are white. Prefers to feed in fresh water and edges of grassy pools. Eats fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, shrimp and crabs. When water disappears they will eat grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and other insects of the grasslands. Flight is graceful and strong, wing strokes quicker than that of larger herons.Flies with head drawn in on shoulders.
Photos from Myakka River State Park, Florida – January, 2016
In many cultures, storks represent fertility, springtime and good luck.
Beauty I have none,
grace in flight I have plenty,
perseverance, I am proof.
This species seems to have evolved in tropical regions; its North American presence probably postdates the last ice age. A fossil fragment found might be of the living species; it is at most from the Late Pleistocene age, a few 10,000s of years ago.
The rains came and haven’t stopped, reminding us once again that this is an El Nino year. What a time to be in Louisiana. What else should we have expected, plus it is Spring.
Yesterday, we were camping in Mandeville, Louisiana at Fairview Riverside State Park. The day we arrived management closed the RV loop closest to the river. We kept watching the water rise in the park and had a feeling we would be asked to evacuate, and that is what happened. We packed up quickly and drove a short distance to Hammond, Louisiana. The rains came again and haven’t stopped – twelve inches so far!
We will stay in Hammond until we feel it is safe to travel; hopefully a window of opportunity will present itself on Saturday so we can head west toward home.
We enjoyed our stay in Florida, even though it was rainy. Since my last post on travel news, we attended HamCation Ham Fest in Orlando, spend time again with friends at Lake Louisa and Rainbow Springs State Parks and then headed west. Our week at my most favorite “resort” was priceless; being with family is always a wonderful treat.
We are hoping our trek home will be dry, enjoyable and uneventful.