Monday, April 11, 2016

A Beach, a Trail, Nature Rehab and a Citrus County Almanac

April 8, 2016
Here it is, mid-April. Upon returning to Canada and Arnprior at end of March, we made our way to Toronto for a family event. All of this in the context of a lovely temperate spring/summer in Dunnellon, Florida, returning to much colder than average conditions in central and eastern Canada. Wind, snow and temperatures hovering in the -15C (5F) range last night. Oh boy, springtime in Canada.
Our route home took us through the south and central Appalachians, where the Appalachian Spring (Aaron Copeland's music playing in the appropriate center in my brain) provided mile after mile of eye candy; first in South Carolina, where Dogwoods and Redbuds covered the mountains, then into Virginia, where Cherries replaced the Dogwoods

Having been way too busy and having so much fun kayaking and hiking through central west Florida, I now have the pleasant task of returning there and warming from memories.

Back on February 3, 2016, I went to Crystal River and followed the Fort Island Trail to Fort Island Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. This Citrus County Park does a great job of mixing nature and recreational use. The Beach and natural Gulf sand provide a great respite for bathers and we bird watchers alike! The warmth of the day encouraged me to don my sassy bathing suit.

This Black Skimmer joined Laughing Gulls in winter plumage on the beach.
Here you get an idea of the numbers of birds, many species, enjoying the beach along with a few humans.
Dunlin enjoying the sun, and below a Dunlin and a Piping Plover pose for me. Cute, huh?( I stop saying "eh" as soon as I cross into the USA, and I avoid using any word with an "ou" construct, such as doubt and about.)
Out on the rocks well-placed to protect the beach from the effects of waves and currents, an Oyster Catcher gives me the eye.
Miles Saunders, Media Relations/Marketing Specialist for Citrus County was also taking bird photos to aid in encouraging bird watchers and nature lovers to visit this lovely Florida county. This marsh, the rocks and much more, were planned and designed by the County to encourage all of those birds and other wildlife.  There is a large area with a boardwalk and fishing pier which permitted me to see a lot of Gulf fish species and the odd Dolphin. One of the more curious fish one may see in the shallows is a Batfish.
Thanks for taking this photo, of a most weird Snowbird, Miles!

Don't you just LOVE this pose by this Ruddy Turnstone.  I seem to find these birds all over. And the ubiquitous parking lot coastal bird, the Boat-tailed Grackle noisily surveys the territory (below).
The extended El Nino summer (until end of December) supposedly caused birds that normally stay further south to venture into central Florida, including many Wood Storks (above).  The Brown Pelicans always pose in their most distinguished manner.  This one (below) is in another park along the Fort Island Trail.

I then went to check out another special spot,the Cross Florida Greenway's Withlacoochie Bay Trail, close to Inglis, Florida. The Withlacoochie Bypass (canal) had many Red-breasted Mergansers (below 2 photos).




I noticed this Otter's noisy crunches as it fed.  I chattered at it and this was the response...a curious look at me before diving for more food (two photos below). 
More Nature Coast coming soon! Enjoy Spring 2016.