This will probably not be too shocking to those who have read any of our past articles, but we like to explore. New places are wonderful but re-visiting familiar haunts can be exciting for us as well. Some of our trips are fairly well thought-out and for others we “fly by the seat of our pants”. (For those not familiar with the term, it originated during the early days of aviation and meant to fly without benefit of instruments, relying, rather, on the pilot’s experience and intuition.) I typically refer to Gini as my navigator, although she generally figures I know where we’re going and doesn’t consult maps and compasses much. Her navigator’s input is usually in the form of something like: “Was that the road you wanted we just passed?”.
I looked “navigator” up in the dictionary. It said: “One who navigates.” Sigh. I looked “navigate ” up in the dictionary. The origin of the word is from Latin for ships and steering. One of the meanings said: “to find one’s way”. I like that one. Gini has been helping me find my way for a very long time.
(Full disclosure. We have been married for over 45 years. Gini has always been and always will be the “pilot” in this relationship. She has occasionally allowed me to believe I was in charge of something or other, but I have never questioned her absolute authority! Shhh. Don’t tell her I know the truth.)
So, there we were in south Hardee County the other day. The plan was to drive along several rural roads with no particular “target” to visit and see if we could spot any birds. Hardee County is not heavily birded and has no large bodies of water to attract birds. It has been mined for phosphate for decades and much of the area is agricultural. It was a really pleasant day and once the morning was over we had seen over 40 species of birds. The highlights included a large collection of Egrets, Herons, Roseate Spoonbills and over 200 Wood Storks, all of the above feeding in a relatively small pond in a large commercial dairy pasture. We also saw four immature Bald Eagles in the same area, one of which was busy feeding on unidentified prey. It was surprising the other eagles were not “helping”. As the morning came to a close, Gini spotted over a dozen Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies feeding on a single bush. It was a wonderful morning of meandering with no destination in mind.
Here are a few images of the day. Sorry we can’t share with you the very special “aroma” produced by the hundreds of dairy cows!
Our day began watching a Sandhill Crane couple grazing for breakfast.
The Eastern Meadowlark has such an outstanding yellow front that we tend to ignore the other side. I found the warm, rich brown plumage and textures of the feathers to be really pleasing. No matter which side we view, the sweet morning melody is always refreshing.
A Crested Caracara perched in the tallest tree he could find to better survey his kingdom.
Eastern Bluebirds seemed to follow us all morning. Now, if I could just get one to perch on something besides a utility line!
This Northern Mockingbird has just lifted off of his fence post perch. Notice how the breast feathers are fluffed upward as he prepares to raise his wings to keep him aloft.
A young Bald Eagle was busy feeding on some sort of prey which we couldn’t see due to the long grass. There were three other young eagles in the same field and we weren’t sure why they weren’t flocking in to help.
Requisite alligator since we’re in Florida.
A female Little Blue Dragonlet. These very small dragonflies tend to stay in the same area even when disturbed. I wish birds were like that!
These Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were very busy feeding on a White Crownbeard. We counted 15 of the large butterflies on the same bush!
Whether on a familiar path or searching for a new place to explore, we hope you remember to have fun, because that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t hurt to bring along a navigator, either – to help “find one’s way”.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!