Friday, December 30, 2005

Piney Z Lake and The Heritage Trail

A new feature of the blog is the ability to click on the title for an external link. So, click this title to read more about the Lafayette Heritage Park and Trail system in Tallahassee.
Here is a kayak angler out enjoying this little gem on a Friday afternoon!

I had the good fortune to discover another flock of wood storks on Piney Z Lake today. This lake is only about two miles from my home as the crow flies and about 6.8 miles by vehicle. My office is the same distance from my home. Hhhhmmmmm...kayaking or work, now which will I choose????

Piney Z Lake is on the other side of the railroad tracks which run on the edge of the Alford Greenway. Before all this land was built up with homes I used to ride my trailbike back into the woods to watch the wildlife on this lake and I wanted to access it with a boat. Now it is easy.

I saw dozens of wood storks, cormorants by the hundreds, herons of all sorts, ibises, and many ducks!
The boat ramp pictured here is for one of my kayak friends since she likes to see what she is up against when it comes to launching. This launch is on one of the five fishing fingers of the lake which are part of Heritage Park.
This little park is destined to become a part of a series of parks, jogging trails, and canoe and kayak trails in Tallahassee. The park is at the end of Heritage Park Blvd. which is off Conner Blvd. The launch is not too convenient as you must haul your boat about twenty yards from the parking lot down to the fishing finger that has the launch. But the birding is worth it!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A crowd for the Moon view!

Everyone wants a good seat!
Oops! I disturbed a meeting!
Meet in the cypress tree at 1700.
What's that osprey doing at our meeting?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Birds at Lake Munson

Floating among the cypress trees!

This was an excellent day for viewing birds on Lake Munson. Although I don't have a teleconverter lens, I was able to get some pretty good closeups of the many woodstorks, herons, ibis, grebes, and cormorants I saw today. The nest is a wood stork nest. The birds were flying all over the lake and I was thrilled to be among so many. I also saw an osprey. This is a great birding lake. At the end of the day I paddled up to my friend's dock and put down a box of chocolates for him to find while he watched the sunset.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Woodstorks in flight

This is a long view of the woodstork nest. They make their nests over water to avoid raccoons. But alligators hang around hoping for chicks or food to fall in the water! I'm going to watch this rookery for nesting pairs this spring. I don't think they have started yet.

These woodstorks were among the dozen or so I saw on Lake Munson today. They are truly breathtaking when they take off. You hear a wooshing of their wings but no other sound!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Killick in many forms!

The killick is an old world word for a stone or other heavy object used as a boat anchor. This collection of killicks recovered from the bottom of Lake Munson during its last draining is an interesting assortment. Can you name the automotive parts and other assorted heavy objects?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cypress Trees and Woodstorks

Wood storks nest in cypress trees such as these. Their nests are about three feet across and are fifty to sixty feet up in the air.

Wood storks almost became extinct before being listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species List in 1984. In the 1930s, more than 60,000 wood storks inhabitated the United States. But development, destruction of habitat and other factors reduced their population to about 4,500 breeding pairs by 1980 They are magnificent birds to watch while flying and are only rivaled by Sandhill Cranes in their flying magnificence, in my opinion. They are said to fly as high as six thousand feet up...

I have seen small flocks of Sandhill Cranes in the marshes in Pasco county in the spring as well as bald eagles and redtailed hawks. Bald eagles are excellent soarers and stay very high up.

I have recently seen as many as ten wood storks flying on Lake Munson and I am told there are more. If you look closely at these cypress trees you can see the pink eggs of apple snails. The snails come out at night to lay these trails of pink eggs on the cypress knees. (I did not take this wood stork picture. Apologies to it's author and I do not intend to benefit commerically from this image. )

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lake Munson Cypress Trees

Lake Munson is a secret birder's delight on the South side of Tallahassee. There is a boat launch south of Capital Circle for access. I was visiting for a few minutes and took these shots. Earlier in the day there were hundreds of storks, anhingas, cormorants, herons, and limpkins.
It's generous number of apple snails attracts many wading birds. It is a beautiful place in all seasons. Tomorrow I will kayak it and get some bird pictures. I recommend it to birders but if you are boating, beware of the many alligators. It is lined with old cypress trees, some of which are pictured here. My friend here is an avid gardner and these are winter flowers in his garden.
I would have been there earlier but "Toss The Feathers" played the mayor's home for the Parade of Homes benefit for the Tallahassee Symphony. Impressed?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Loxahatchee River at Jonathon Dickinson State Park

This 11,500-acre park is named for Jonathan Dickinson, who in 1696 was shipwrecked about 5 miles from here. Dickinson was probably one of the first explorers to sample palmetto berries, a staple of the local Jaegas Indian diet. He reported: "They taste like rotten cheese steeped in tobacco juice." I wonder if he got a reptile dysfunction. The Loxahatchee River is lined with mangrove trees. These "walking trees" did some walking during the hurricanes, I'm told.

Sunday was a good day for kayaking on the Loxahatchee. I drove about four miles into the park to the boat ramp and I saw this sign on the way in. I certainly would not entice an alligator. Nor am I in the habit of molesting them. But if one came dressed up nicely for dinner and rang my doorbell, I might feed him.

Does he look enticed? I hope not. I was pretty close.

This white ibis was shy. In the evening you can see small flocks of them fly in- land from John D MacArthur State Park to roost in the mangrove trees along the intercoastal. I saw quite a few while enjoying the sunset at the ancestral condo. My father insists they are ducks.

Nest sites are in mangroves, trees, and thickets, usually 2-15 feet above ground or water, sometimes higher or on the ground. The nest is built by both sexes, with the male bringing most material, and the female doing most of the building. Nesting material is often stolen from nests of other pairs. The nest is usually a platform of sticks, sometimes of cordgrass or reeds. Up to 5 eggs are laid, they are pale blue-green to white, blotched with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, and averages 21 days. Both parents feed the young, by regurgitation. The young may clamber about near the nest after 3 weeks, and can make short flights after 4-5 weeks, are capable of sustained flight at 6 weeks, and may leave the colony to forage with adults after 7 weeks

This great blue heron was fishing in the shallows.

Friday, November 25, 2005

My Pop: World War II B24 Bomber Pilot

I'm real proud of my dad. He flew 27 missions as a squadron leader in 1945. He came back. He married my mom. He had me. My dad is of "The Greatest Generation."

Here is a mission picture.... And here is a link to the forum my dad frequents to share his WWII experiences in heavy bombers...

and another...

This is my mom and dad today. Mom and I went to see a Matisse exhibit today. My dad did his thing. They are amazing people. I love them beyond explanation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Toss The Feathers

These instruments are from left to right; the mountain dulcimer, a goatskin bodhran, and an autoharp. "Toss The Feathers" is the name of our little band. Bodhrans are traditionally made from goatskin. The mountain dulcimer is an indigenous American instrument. The autoharp pictured here is a hand-crafted version of the original autoharps which came from Europe and evolved from other string instruments
of a similar nature.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

PCS Phosphate Pond Kayaking

After a soothing night at the Stephen Foster Memorial Park cabins on the Suwannee, I decided to find a different kind of place to kayak on Sunday. The PCS (PotashCorp of Saskatchewan, Inc.)
phosphate wildlife management area is north of White Springs and a small map I got at the Park showed ponds.

This great blue heron was in the pines while I kayaked. I saw an egret, an anhinga, and cormorants as well as ducks. I am now keeping a birding log which can be picked up at the the SFMP office.

This is a picture of the ponds I chose to kayak in. These ponds are very deep. The wildlife is abundant because the area is undisturbed by airboats and had only fishermen while I was there. It was overcast and also began to rain so my photos are a bit dark.

Here is a sign marking the wildlife area. The area is off highway 41, across from Genoa. Of course my friends disapprove of having anything to do with the many phosphate mines of Florida!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Heaven is a cabin on The Suwannee

This is a long shot of one of the five new cabins at one of my favorite state parks, The Stephen Foster Memorial State Park. This park hosts the Florida Folk Festival every year. It also has many folklife events during the year, as well as workshops, demonstrations, folk coffee houses, and other musical performances. It has a very nice campground and a small old time village with a craft square giftshop shown here. The Stephen Foster Museum depicts scenes of old time southern life from many of his songs.

One of my very smart friends rented two cabins for the weekend so a group of us could sing Suwannee songs and commune with nature. Some of our friends from White Springs came over to sing and play with us. Oh, and I should note that Johnny's mother contributed the best coconut cream pie I have ever nibbled. Thank you!
We had such good food this past weekend, including home made enchiladas and orange cake to die for. My friends are great cooks!

The Florida trail runs a few feet from the cabins and you can hop on at this sign and walk along the Suwannee for a long ways. The trail travels the length of the state and is maintained by volunteers. We needed to hike after those meals! Did I mention Sunday lunch at the Telford Inn? The Telford is an old hotel in White Springs with old world charm and deserves a visit if you are in the area.

Here are some of my girlfriends shopping at the craft square gift shop.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Images of a Day

This is my great friend "Tie Dye Mark." I have known Mark for about fifteen years. He travels the roads in his rig, making tie dye shirts, pants, dresses, and overalls as he has for more than thirty years. He stays in forests and state park campgrounds. Mark is a conversationalist. Talking with him is an endless delight and I have spent many mornings drinking his coffee and discussing politics, folk music, and people: in parks across Florida. He was at the Barberville Pioneer Settlement Fall Festival where I performed last weekend with my band "Toss The Feathers." Mark felt too tired to set up his booth so he just enjoyed the festival and his many friends.

Here are some of my music friends, old and new. Raven, Jen, and Tara surround my band members Linda Collins and John Sullivan after our latest performance in the old church at the Pioneer Settlement. Linda is a champion mountain dulcimer player and John wins Sean Nos awards on his yearly pilgrimmages to Ireland. They are such fun to play and sing with. You can catch us again at the WeeMoon Spirit Craft Show in Tallahasee on the 19th of Novemeber and again at the mayor's home in December in a benefit for the Tallahassee Symphony.

I stopped at the Appleton Art Museum on the way home and was delighted to find a wonderful permanent collection with many classical and modern paintings. The Appleton is a little jewel on the way out of the Ocala forest on highway 40 which should not be missed. Currently, they have a stunning traveling collection of African and Pre-Columbian art which I spent too little time enjoying on my trip home from the gig.

This is a settlement volunteer making rope with a hand crank. I got to make my own rope and I have it in my truck camper for emergencies. This was a big draw at the Settlement along with the animals and the smithing demonstrations. And let's not forget corn shucking, a volunteer job my son has had at the Settlement in years past