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Off to the swamp–part 2

Sunday, 17 February 2013

After our rescue of the turtle and lunch, we were back in the boats to head for the Big Water area on Friday.  The boat I was in brought up the rear for this portion of the journey. 

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That meant that most of the wildlife encountered was gone by the time our third boat drove by.  Sad smile  We had to settle for enjoying the cypress scenery along the way.  I found the warped reflections from the wake of our boat interesting though.

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This great egret was perched far enough away that it wasn’t bothered by our passage.  I liked the swirling branches of the big tree. 

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Of course, there were quite a few alligators out sunning themselves.  They really don’t move if they’re on the shore, but gators closer to the water trail roll off and swim away at a boats approach.  I lost count of how many we saw.

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                  We all had a good chuckle at the exuberance of this turtle catching the sun’s rays.  Laughing out loud

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As we made our way along the trail, we lost sight of the two boats ahead of us.  Eventually the path got smaller and smaller, and we could no longer go forward because of fallen trees over the water.  We had no idea where the other boats were as there were no telltale bubbles in the water ahead of us, and we certainly hadn’t passed them along the way.  When this happens, thoughts of being lost in this vast swampland swirl around in your head.  We decided to turn around and just head back by ourselves.  Normally each boat would have a radio, but alas, we didn’t.  It certainly added a sense of adventure to this outing. 

Trying to take a positive outlook on our situation, I noted that we were now in the lead and were seeing lots more birds since the other two boats hadn’t already chased them off.

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As we rounded a curve, we saw a belted kingfisher make a catch.  Yahoo!  One of the things on my bucket list has been to get a decent photo of a belted kingfisher.  These birds are usually so skittish that it’s hard to capture a good shot of them.  They fly off at your approach.

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This guy was so intent upon consuming this fish that he fairly ignored us.  What a National Geographic moment for me!  I asked Bruce to try to get a little closer for this unique opportunity.  While this photo could be sharper, I was thrilled to document how the bird went through contortions to slap the fish dead on the branch so it could get it down its throat.  For you birdy types out there, if you look closely you can even see that the nictitating membrane has covered the kingfisher’s eyes as he gets ready to whack it on the branch.   That membrane covers birds eyes kind of like a set of goggles to protect their eyes.

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Sated for the moment, this male took a moment to digest a bit before flying off.  Eat your heart out Karen of RV Travels of Karen and Al!  (We’ve both been on a quest to get a good photo of this bird)  Rolling on the floor laughing

After that thrill for me, I heard the approaching drone of the other two boats.  I don’t know how we lost them, but I’m sure glad we did!  We all made it back safe and sound to the docking area at Stephen Foster State Park.  What a marvelous time I had on this field trip into the wilds of the swamp.  It was truly a memorable day.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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