Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fort Caroline (Part II of our Florida Trip, Apr. 4, 2009)

Fort Caroline, good times never seem so good
I’ve been inclined to believe it never would..

Although we saw a lot of lifers yesterday it was a bit disappointing because we weren’t able to get some decent pictures at all. Little did we know that the following day would be a complete and welcome change from our experiences the day before.

In our talks with Ranger Roger yesterday, he suggested we visit the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve which includes the Theodore Roosevelt Area with its diverse ecosystem and Ft Caroline National Memorial which although basically a historical site also includes some forest and marsh habitat.

When we broached the idea to our host, May Galang (she graciously opened her home for us to stay a couple of nights), her eyes lit up. She said she just went jogging there yesterday and would be happy to show us the place.

Theodore Roosevelt Area is huge and daunting for these two pairs of ancient legs. Although the place looked promising, we didn’t stay long as we did not have the stamina to traverese such an expanse. Besides, our friend, May, had to leave early due to some prior commitments. And so, we stayed at Ft. Caroline instead, where we didn’t have to go far to find birds. Right next to the parking lot we saw such eye-candies as the Northern Cardinals and Yellow-throated Warblers that delighted our non-birding friend.

When Hermit Thrushes stared at her from a few feet away and a Carolina Wren serenaded us from behind the bushes, May was so thrilled we thought we just had a convert into bird-watching.

After May left for her appointment, we tried the trail to the Spanish Pond which wasn’t a pond at all but some sort of a marsh with tall trees. We didn’t see much here except for the Black Vultures looking down at us from the tree tops.

We took a nice lunch at a Filipino restaurant a few minutes away from the park and then headed on to Helen Cooper Floyd Memorial Park. Once again fishermen hogged the prime places whose huge trucks sometimes blocked the way of our tiny Corolla. We decided to bird along the road instead where we saw our first Tri-colored Heron in Florida.

At around 4 pm we returned to Ft Caroline where we met a Canadian couple who were also birders. They were getting ready to leave and so Cynthia and I focused our attentions on the antics of a Red-bellied Woodpecker. All of a sudden, the couple who were already driving out did a quick turn. The lady jumped out of their SUV and told us that she saw a Pileated Woodpecker “behind those trees”. We thanked them for going out of their way just to give us this information. We peered at “those trees” trying to locate the large woodpecker. As if ordered by some divine power, the Pileated flew into a tree not far from us. There it stayed, in full view, looking for some tasty morsels. Needless to say, we took photos to our hearts content until our arms wearied from holding up our camera gears.

That capped a very exciting birding day for us. It was now time for some socials. We visited another friend of Cynthia, Elsie Ong, who welcomed us to their mansion.

They have a river-front property which included a pier that extends out into the St John river. There we watched a glorious sunset while the ladies shared memories.

From there it was dinner at Mandalouns where we had the most exquisite mediterranean fare that made our bellies dance.

Oh, and hers, too.


Felicia said...

Hi Bob and Cynthia,

Looks like you had a great time out here! Congrats on actually getting a decent photo of a Yellow-throated Warbler--they're fairly common, but I've never managed to shoot one.

And congrats on your even more impressive feat of finding a good Flipino restaurant in Jax...good Asian restaurants in north Florida are rare Glad you had a productive trip!

Mel said...

Hola Bob y Cynthia,
That Vulture looks stunning and that tri-color heron is just AMAZING! I've never seen such a beauty!

Anonymous said...

Pretty! Looks like a fun time here in FL. Thanks for sharing your shots! =D