|Our Feathered Friends|
|Wednesday, December 1, 2010|
By RAY POPE
On this Florida trip, we went over places that I have never traveled before. Florida is full of springs and the ones that have river access will have Manatees. At the Blue Springs State Park cold weather forced the Manatees to head for the warm spring water pouring up from the Florida Aquafier by thousands of gallons each minute. These spring areas contain several different species of birds that also take advantage of the warm waters. I looked for my friend of several years past, the Barred Owl only to come up empty handed.
Over by the Panama City Beach area one of the most plentiful species is the Brown Pelican. I really enjoyed watching them skim over the waves coming in off the Gulf of Mexico. They will fly at about twenty feet over the water only to dive head first to catch some unsuspecting fish just under the surface. With the cooler temperatures most of our avian friends were keeping out of sight.
In Panama City Beach, there are two different piers that leads out into deeper water, City Pier and County Pier. Dotty and I paid our two dollars entrance fees and headed out hoping to spot some Sting-rays feeding along the shallow water. Since the Whiting ( fish ) had just started running, the pier was full of people trying their hand at catching a coolor full. Most of them were doing exactly that. We found our Sting-rays as we had hoped and also several large schools of Atlantic Needlefish. One lonely seagull sat on the side of the pier probably hoping for a handout from one of the fisher people there. I was able to get pretty close without him flying off.
Leaving Panama City Beach, we headed west on 98 till we came to highway 331, then north through De Funiak Springs till we came to Florala, Alabama. There is a large lake and a small comunity park there where I like to pick a load of Spanish Moss to bring back with me. The lake there had several rafts of some kind of ducks swimming about, but was too far away to identify. After working my way back to the van, I picked up my binoculars so I could get a better look at the waterfoul in question. There were probably a couple of thousand American Coots on the small lake. Here in Tennessee we have our share of these water birds on our lakes. All around the lake you will find signs telling you to keep your eyes open for alligators. It was a little too cold for them to be very active.
I picked two small garbage bags full of moss this trip. The last time there I picked enough moss to make the old Hackberry tree behind the old house look as if it was located in the deep south. Now, I’m sure you are wondering, why would I bring moss home with me? I probably had several hundred birds that would take some of my Spanish moss to use in their nest. It can be a very funny thing to watch a small bird like a Carolina Chickadee of a Tufted Titmouse try to pull a single strand of moss out of the larger mass of tangles. That is something you would have to see for yourselves.
Since we have been back home, I watched the Cedar Waxwings feeding in the large tree behind my home. Now that you know that they are here, you should keep your eyes open for this beautiful bird.
Many of you have heard me mention Cheryl (Kitten) Bean. Last week her cat passed away in her arms and she mentioned if I knew anyone that had a kitten to give away to let her know. Kitten, does not just have animals, she loves and cares for her extended family, such as her Rock Dove named Punkin.