This weeks observation medication was going to be all about birds again this week along with the great things we saw in the water. While I was at the beach we visited the SunCoast Bird Sanctuary and I took a ton of pictures and I intended to share them with you, but they seem to have been erased from my camera. I am so bummed because we saw some truly great birds up close.
All the birds at the sanctuary are rescues and if they are rehabilitated and able to be released they are.
So, even though they aren't my pictures which is pretty disappointing for me, I still want to share some of the highlights of what we saw.
There was a barred owl.
To see this bird was really great timing because I have been on the lookout in our woods to see one since the kids found a few barred owl feathers along side some blue jay feathers. Now that I know we have one hanging about in our woods I have been looking for it in hopes of seeing it in the wild.
I was reading that they hide their nesting spots during the day time very well and they only hunt at night, so maybe I need to look for it closer to dusk.
There was a great horned owl.
I don't know how I would feel about coming up on one of these in the wild. I was reading they can be rather aggressive and intimidating.
I had never seen a peregrine falcon up close, but I was truly taken by the markings over their eyes... (I had a good picture of this, but alas... they are all gone...)
These birds were on the brink of extinction, but they are now making a come back which is great news to us bird enthusiasts!
There was the most wonderful red bellied woodpecker.
This little bird kept "modeling" for me while I was taking its picture making sure I got all of its angles. Too bad those pictures are gone too, but I have the memory, right?
Kalib and I found one of its feathers a couple of months ago and it jump started our study of birds, so it was nice to see one really close. And it turned out when I was paying attention again, I saw them all over the grounds of the condos we stayed at.
There were great egrets galore along with the snowy egret. I've never been so close to a great egret, but they were very docile and welcoming and equally as interested in us as we were them.
AND the pelicans... All shapes and sizes... AND pelican babies...
The kids actually found what we are pretty sure is a pelican skull. We brought it home and are planning to take it to the Natural History Museum to find out.
Then in the water (not at the sanctuary) we saw all the following in a span of about 10 minutes.
Holly actually touched it - I naturally got out of the water to get my camera to get a picture of it, but right behind it was this:
There was just one and it was about 3 feet long. Seeing it was enough to get most everyone out of the water until it swam back into deeper water. Touching the manatee and swimming with suddenly became a little less appealing.
While watching the shark and manatee we saw stingrays as well as golden sting rays.
All in one day. All in about 10 minutes time.
I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and it all happening so fast and the looks on my kids face I broke into tears of joy that we were having this moment together. And that they understood how lucky we were to get to see all this life before us. It made me proud of our values and proud of our kids.
We ended the day with a fancy dinner near the bay and there we saw dolphins.
What a way to end the day!!!
On Friday, our last day at the beach, there were two schools of sting rays swimming through the waters we were swimming in. At first they scared the kids and they didn't want to be in the water, but after being told how docile stingrays are by a few different people, they ended up swimming with them for about 2 hours. Now, I know there are plenty of you out there who will think me crazy for letting my kids swim with sting rays as they can sting and hurt, but it was a truly beautiful thing to watch. The sting rays were so curious about the kids and when they would swim through, the kids would stand perfectly still and let them pass through and then get back to their games.
This one is a photo I took (I did have some photos left on the camera) while standing in the stingrays.
India says it was the best vacation ever - Take that! Disney World! (No offense mom)! There is nothing like experiencing life in its own habitat.
Jason and I are off to the NC mountains to visit Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest (some of the largest trees if not the largest in the Southeast). We are celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary!
I can't wait to see what I end up learning and observing there. I've already downloaded a bird watching guide as well as a mammal reference to my nook!!! Oh the things I will learn!!!
Until Monday! Have a great weekend!