Saturday, February 08, 2020

Florida Day 3 - Myakka River Boat Tour

Photo from 2019 - a quieter day, and a bit warmer too! As always, click on any picture for a better view. 

We'd visited the Myakka River State Park during last year's visit, and I'm so glad we went back this year. I don't think I got around to posting about this place last year, I ran out of steam after the posts about visiting The Ringling Museum at Ca D'Zan, the Ringling's lovely Sarasota estate, but we'd had a terrific day here the next day and I thought TQ would really enjoy it. In 2019 I'd been so blown away by all the birds that I wrote down a list that I did share in FB:

I don't usually keep bird lists but this was just mindblowing... In no particular order, today at the Myakka River State Park we saw: Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolor Heron, Yellowlegs, Great Egret, Snowy and/or Cattle Egret (not sure which), American Avocet, Sandhill Cranes, Killdeer, Brown Pelican, White Pelican, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Crow, Osprey, Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Belted Kingfisher, Limpkin, Black Vulture, and Bald Eagle (juvenile).

And I added: "And tons of alligators!"

Here are some of the 2019 alligators. The first picture may be kind of sad - this was a big old bruiser of a bull gator who habitually hung out in the little cove out of which the boat tours are run. The guides on the tour last year had told us they'd had a nickname for this guy which they weren't using so anymore because it was considered to be anthropomorphizing in a way they didn't want to do on a tour that was really trying to give visitors a good intro to alligators. But they obviously loved being able to show us such a magnicent gator right off the dock. 

This year, they told us a very sad story about noticing that one of the big alligators that frequented the inlet was acting unwell, and bringing in a specialist to check it out. The minute the guy approached the gator, he could smell that the alligator's breath stunk to high heaven. Turned out the alligator had eaten some plastic which had utterly jammed up his digestive system ahd was literally rotting from the inside out. Did not survive. The captain was pretty upset telling that story. I don't know for sure that this big alligator was the one that died, but given the affection the tour guides had for him, and the very real sadness and anger in the captain's voice, I'm thinking it may have been. Sad ending for this king of Myakka Lake.  

More 2019 gators:

The gator-spotting out on the lake this year wasn't as good. It was much colder and windier. The birds were hunkered down. 

The humans were bundled up - here's TQ and my sister -

And me and my sister. TQ and I were pretty much dressed in what we'd worn leaving Brooklyn. My sister could've used a windbreaker, it was chilly out on the lake and the wind cut right through that fleece.

We did see some birds. Here was a lovely flock of black-necked stilts flying by.

Here was the only shoreline alligator of the tour. I did see one in the water for a moment, but it went under before I could point it out to Karen and TQ. We learned a new fact in this year's tour - alligators like to go dig themselves into the mud at the bottom of the lake to hide from the cold weather. 

Here was our captain,

And speaking of captains, there's my dad and Belle the dog coming to meet the boat. Dogs aren't allowed on the boat, so TQ and Karen and I had gone early to go on that tour. And here you can see how breezy it is! The other pictures here were taken over on the far side of the lake, where we were somewhat in the shelter of the treeline. This side of the lake was all whitecaps.

Back in the inlet, looking back at the lake

Tricolored heron getting a little fishing in despite the cold
And then here was a real treat - this Roseate Spoonbill was hanging out right by the kayak launch, spoonbilling away. No kayaks going out on this cold & blustery day, the bird only had the paparazzi to worry about - and it didn't seem at all concerned about me and the couple of other people taking pictures of it. Gorgeous, isn't it? 


songbird's crazy world said...

Beautiful bird.

Pity about the alligator though.

bonnie said...

Yeah, we'd seen the spoonbills the year before but none as nice and close. L

Isn't that story sad though. Not a fun story to re-tell.

LauraEhlers said...

once again, amazing photos. and a sad, yet important story about plastic and waste in regards to the old gator.