Feb. 3: Moving on to Live Oak Landing near Freeport, FL. We are now in the panhandle and starting our western sojourn. It was a terrible trip (about 5 hours’ drive) with torrential rain & high wind. We are lucky it abated somewhat after we arrived at our destination (which they’d screwed up, but luckily got sorted out), so we could get settled. This is the last place we’ll spend a week birding before beetling for home.
Feb. 4: It was a chilly morning with a temp of 5C – high forecast for 15C (actually pretty similar week to Calgary!! HA!). A visit to 3 state parks didn’t turn up our long sought-after woodpecker, but it did net 1 new species for our list.
This little House Wren “blowin’ in the wind”! (This is not the new species – I’ll let you know). Looks like he is sitting on a snowy fence with snow in the background, but that is a cement railing with very white sand behind! Some of the whitest beaches we’ve seen. Noticed a few porpoises bobbing near the shoreline, with a group of ducks diving in unison – well Holy Mackerel – Red-throated Loons!!! A Lifer for me, but not Bill who’d seen then on the Nahani River in the NWT (Northwest Territories) before he met me!
The only thing Bill could shoot was a group of Sanderlings – here’s one running by.
There were a few pairs of Eastern Bluebirds around. Bill managed to capture this lovely male.
Several Eastern Towhees were singing also.
Here is our new guy – Field Sparrow.
Most of the state parks have campgrounds within them. As we drove around (often a good spot for birds) we saw several Airstream trailers of different sizes.
Here Is one with a slide!! They were only made for a few years – not sure when.
We also took a walk in 1 of the parks. This interesting little soft gray-green moss grew in “poofs” all over the ground (“deer moss”).
We wore our jackets & gloves most of the day (mostly because of the wind factor & humidity), but by the time we got home, could take them off & be comfortable. There It promises to be fairly windy for the week (about 25-35 kph).
Feb. 5: 0C this morning! The forecast was for 5C, but we had to turn on the propane heater (the electric one labours too much at close to freezing). This is the one we had to get fixed & it looks like all is well – thank goodness – since we’ll really need it on the way home.
It is our girls’ 2nd birthday today! Here they are in their little heated baskets.
Natasha (Billy’s girl)…
… & Katrina (my little honey-bunny). They bring smiles to our faces every day & often make us laugh out loud. They are a blessing indeed.
Off to visit another state park in this area – Topsail Hill. Walked for 3 hours, but nothing new to report.
Just after the tram driver dropped us off at our hiking stop & warned us about bears a couple of deer showed up. I had just said to him “bears, panthers – bring it on!” Well, this was what showed up.
At last Bill was able to get a few decent photos of a Pine Warbler (because they are everywhere).
The only other bird we could photograph was a Bluejay. Well, we haven’t done it yet, so might as well – though it’s not the greatest. We hoped for our photo of a Red-headed or Red-Ccockaded Woodpecker – or maybe a Brown-headed Nuthatch. Alas!
Feb. 6th: Laundry/cleaning today & out to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.
Feb. 7th: Off again to try to find a Brown-headed Nuthatch. We’ve pretty much given up hope of finding the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
Well, YAHOO, YIPPEE & HALLELUJAH!!! We got ‘er! It was our first walk, only a few minutes along we heard their cute little chirps! They have the cutest little sounds & there were at least 3 individuals. They were very high up when we first saw them, but finally this one came down a bit lower for a better photo (THANK YOU LITTLE ONE!). We’ve now seen all 4 nuthatches in NA.
We stayed around watching them for about 20 minutes until this little one flew off. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces for the rest of the day! No sign of any woodpeckers, but we can leave FL pretty happily now.
We drove around the rest of the roads we could looking for woodpeckers, but in the 1 spot where there were white bands on the trees, there were gunshots happening somewhere not too far away. We have found that quite a few times. Crazy Gun-totin’ Americans! We just got the hell outa there! Yikes!
Super Bowl tonight.
Feb. 8th: Broncos won last night – much to Bill’s delight, since he was hoping Peyton Manning would go out in glory! Poor Jerry Swanner & family – heartbroken. Such is life.
We did laundry, a bit of shopping, ate at a Mexican restaurant for lunch & watched Elementary (recorded) in the evening.
Feb. 9th: A good trailer cleaning today & dinner out at a nice restaurant to say goodbye to Florida.
I had Bill go out & take a photo of this tree blooming next to the creek which runs right outside our campground. I thought it was a Tupelo tree, but I was wrong & I still can’t find out what it is. However, the Tupelo makes very interesting honey. I’d heard of Tupelo honey (because of Van Morrison’s song), but here’s an interesting fact: bee keepers load their hives on a barge & go down the rivers of FL & GA which have trees blooming (only for 3-4 weeks), then harvest the honey. It is the only honey that will not crystallize and because of the specific ratio of different sugars, it’s the only honey diabetics can eat.
There was 1 other tree which Bill never got a photo of but I had to include it because it was my favourite palm tree: silver Palm. From the web.
We’ve decided to do no more birding in FL – go out with a bang (Brown-headed Nuthatch). We’ve given up trying to see the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The closest we came were the banded trees. However, our tally for the trip is now: 183 (23 Lifers: 1-Bill, 1-Lois, 2 N.Amer. & 19 pure Lifers). That’s way more than we thought until we tallied them up!!
Impressions of Florida (Thank goodness North Carolina came first!): Really really flat, lots & lots of fields growing crops, very few cattle, lots of water – mostly along both sides of the roads, very green everywhere, oppressive heat & humidity, really itchy insect bites, clammy bed sheets, back-in RV sites (yikes!), delicious strawberries all winter, hundreds of Ford Mustangs – many convertibles, beautiful huge trees hanging with Spanish moss, not many birds (neither species nor individuals), a few exciting Lifer birds, so many big white birds flying around, great Indian names for places (Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola, Withlacootchee, Okeefenokee, etc.). I know more will hit me later, but that’s all I can think of for now. Must get this posted. Then we’re on our way back west!
Save trip home my dear friends. Love the photos Bill. Look forward to seeing you again Lo! xoxo ❤