Beware! Critters galore .... Florida 11/12 thru 11/18

Or, critters and more!  What's a trip to the Southeast without a stop in the Big Bend region of Florida?  This year we didn't make it further south (as in, Orlando), but we spent five enjoyable days in the Tallahassee area.  Since we'd be staying with friends, Tom and Diane, we left Tergel parked in her Daphne AL site and drove the 230 +/- miles in Smartie.  It was a bit of a squeeze, but doable.  Cost a lot less in gas money!

Diane's Indian Ring-necked parrot is great entertainment.  He's not much of a talker yet, but she's working on that.  He likes taking a shower under the kitchen sink faucet and manages to get soaking wet ... and he sure can wrap himself into strange positions to rinse all those feathers!  It's nice that he seems to remember me and Jimmy from one visit to the next.  Perks right up, as if to say, "Hey, dudes, whereya been?"

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Thursday, 11/13, looked like the one good weather day we'd have to ride our bikes in St Marks NWR, our favorite place, flat and always full of things to see.  An arctic blast was expected soon (the dreaded "polar vortex"), and our dance card was otherwise filled.  Off we went on a 22+ mile R/T ride, under a cloudy sky. 

 Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia) -- Florida's state butterfly.

 American Avocets feeding in Stony Bayou shallows.  Nice beaks!

 You know what this is.  "Smiley?"

Why do snakes cross the road?  Most of them get flattened.
We shooed this 3-4 ft Common Kingsnake (a good guy) off the asphalt. 

 St Marks Lighthouse.  Built in 1842 and still in use today.

A long shot of another (big!) alligator and St Marks Lighthouse.

Tagged Monarch butterfly.  Too bad we missed the annual St Marks Monarch Festival held two wks ago.

 Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on an overcast day.

Yet another (duckweed encrusted) alligator at Headquarters Pond.  They were out today!

Lesser Scaups in Mounds Pool.

Established in 1931 to provide wintering habitat for migrating birds, St Marks NWR is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, offering coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida rivers.  It encompasses 70,000 acres in three counties, including about 43 miles along the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida, with quite a diverse community of plant and animal life.  We have seen every kind of critter in this refuge, from teeny-tiny insects to big ol' black bears, and each time we return we're awed again.  And we've biked, hiked, walked, ran (training for a half-marathon), volunteered to pick up trash, and plain ol cruised along in Smartie, and next time we're in Florida, we'll be back!


  1. Oh too bad you didn't check the tag! Our son and his family caught and tagged monarchs at the local nature center for the Wichita Audobon Society in affiliation with Kansas State for a research project! There is a phone number and also a website on the tag to report where they are located for tracking purposes. It does look like you had a great visit!

    1. I would've liked to check its tag, but it wouldn't hold still! St Marks does a lot of Monarch tagging at their festival, so I kinda figured the tagged butterflies we saw might be some of theirs. Thanx for your comment.

  2. Encountering a tagged butterfly is like seeing a banded bird. Very cool.

  3. I have yet to explore St Marks, even though we have passed through and by several times. Definitely will put it on the list for the next Northern Florida journey. Love the parrot...they are so much fun. Cute to watch and play with, especially when owned by someone else!


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