Thursday, January 31, 2013


 7 Days Until Tom Comes Homes!!!!!
One Short Week!!!!

Today we headed to the power plant to see the manatees. 
 Big Bend Power Station is a major coal-fired power plant, located near our rv resort.  The scrubber for Unit 4 began operation in 1984, and since 1995, has simultaneously scrubbed Unit 3 as well. The scrubber for Units 1 and 2 began operation at the end of 1999. According to TECO Energy, the scrubber system removes 95% of sulfur dioxide from all four units.
This is steam coming out of the stacks.

The plume of warm water that comes out the south side of the plant hovers around 80 degrees where it's released, and the stream of heated water.  During the winter when the water becomes cooler this warm water attracts manatees, and fish, some very big fish.
There are four of these plumes on this side to the power plant.  I do not know if water was coming out of all, but I saw water coming out of two of them.

During the winter months, warm-water outfalls from the station draw dozens of West Indian manatees, an endangered species, to the immediate vicinity of the plant In 1986, TECO set aside a manatee viewing area which is accessible to the public.
Large fish in the warm waters.
Rog as we are walking out to the estuary.
It was so pretty and there was a recording telling you all about the plants and animals along our trip.  It was a cold and windy day today, but here we were nicely protected until we made it to the walk way on the water.  Then it became cold and windy again.
Manatees.  Big dudes that just float along eating grasses.
They come up every so often to take a breathe.
Last year when we came here there we so many more manatees than this time.  The waters in the Gulf and Atlantic must be still warm. 

Manatees only breathe through their nostrils, since while they are underwater their mouths are occupied with eating! A manatee's lungs are 2/3 the length of its body.

The Florida manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae. Their front flippers help them steer or sometimes crawl through shallow water. They also have powerful flat tails that help propel them through the water. Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear quite well.
back with tail on the way up.
We had a great time looking at the fish and manatees. 
End of this tail.  LOL
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mayaka River State Park

My gate is open so game on!!!!!!

8 Days Until Tom Comes Home!!!!

Today we headed to the Mayakka River State Park.  I researched it and they have an air boat ride and a tram tour.  Sounds like my kind of outing.  We got there and lined up the outings and had some time to take a walk and looked at nature stuff.   
This is the Upper Mayakka LakeDuring the early 20th century Bertha Palmer was the largest landholder in the region and one of the greatest developers and promoters of Florida, especially of Sarasota, where she established a resort, her winter retreat, and her extensive farms and ranches that revolutionized the two industries in the state.  She owned thousands of acres and some was donated to the state for this park.
Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks. The "Florida's Wild an Scenic Mayakka River" flows through 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands.
On my walk I came upon this snake in the water.   The Florida Banded Water Snake is a stout snake with black, brown, or red bands across the body. The narrower bands are pale tan, gray, or reddish. sometimes there is a black stripe down the back. The markings darken with age and banding becomes less prominent. The underside is yellow with red or black markings. Juveniles have red or black cross bands on light background.  When threatened, the Florida Banded Water Snake defends itself by biting and smearing its tormentor with a foul smelling musk. Active mainly at night, but may be found during the day sunning on banks or on vegetation hanging over the water. Feeds on live or dead fishes, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.
Tiny fish in the lake.
We hopped aboard one of the world's largest and oldest air boats and went around the lake looking for wildlife and we were not disappointed.  The air boat is powered by a 1974 Cadillac V8 engine.  Unlike other air boat rides we have been on this one was slow and smooth.

I love this pic.  The Great Blue Heron standing on a bench at the edge of the lake.
Egret and Anhinga both fishing.  There could be a very interesting caption for this pic.
Fishing and now dinner time.  He has to position the fish so it is going down the hatch head first.  This is all done with no hands and in the air.
Gone ... and yummy!
One of many alligators that we spotted.
Egret and friends
When I got the camera home and looked at the pix I did not know I had gotten this pic.  I was taking the pic for the birds and to the right on the other side of the grassy peninsula is an alligator's head!

Today was quite breezy and alligators do not like wind.  It has something to do with their nose and ear flaps in the wind and how it is annoying for them.  So our guide was not sure we would see many of them.  We saw quite a few.  Also he told us that alligators are night hunters and feeders and if we do see them they are sleeping on the shore line. 

 So this rare thing happened and we were able to watch.  An alligator caught and ate a fish in the day time.  The next three pix are of that event.  Our guide was thrilled to see this himself.  He has been doing this job for many years and he has never seen an alligator eat.

An osprey was out looking for a meal while we were out on the lake.  He never took a dive for a fish.  That would have been a wonderful pic.  Our guide said that once they catch it they shift it so that the fish is facing forward.  He says he does this for two reasons one it has less wind resistance and the second reason is that the fish has a better view while he is flying along. 

What a wonderful bird.

Thought this was a great pic too.  I do not remember what kind of bird this is. 

This area was Florida's prairie.  Most of it is gone now.  They believe this is because man keeps putting the lightning fires out and this gives the under brush and trees a chance to take over.  Florida is know as the lightning capital of the country.  This gives you an idea of how many opportunities this area could have to clear things out and make prairie again.
This is a mother alligator.  We know this because you can see some of her babies on her back.  This is quite rare because they mate in Spring and gives birth in Summer, not Winter.   Look close to see them.  Ok look at the next pic and then see if you can find them then come back to this pic and find them.

 In summer, the female builds a nest of vegetation where the decomposition of the vegetation provides the heat needed to incubate the eggs.  The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature of the nest. and is fixed within 7 to 21 days of the start of incubation. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F or lower produce a clutch of females; those of 93 °F  or higher produce entirely males. Nests constructed on leaves are hotter than those constructed on wet marsh and, thus, the former tend to produce males and the latter, females. The natural sex ratio at hatching is five females to one male. Females hatched from eggs incubated at 86 °F weigh significantly more than males hatched from eggs incubated at 93 °F.

I am sorry for the quality of the pic, but I enlarged it so much for you to see the little ones.  There are two up there now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

kayaking/brown pelicans/Sarasota Fl

9 Days Until Tom Comes Home!!!
Single digits Now!!!! 

Today we got up and readied ourselves for a day of kayaking on the Gulf of MexicoWe put in in the Sarasota Bay and kayaked under the bridge into the Gulf of Mexico.  What a workout.  The current there was a lot for us old kayakers who have not been out for a whileSo we had quite a workout.  As we were putting in I saw a dolphin/porpoise animal in the water straight out from us, but of course I had not gotten my camera out yet and he was long gone when I did.  I did get some great pix of brown pelicans.  I was entertained by them for quite a long time and took soooo many pix of them.  223  pix and I must say most of them were of the bird.  LOL

Unique among the world's seven species of pelicans, the Brown Pelican is found along the ocean shores and on only a few inland lakes in the southwestern U.S. It is the only dark pelican, and also the only one that plunges from the air into the water to catch its food.

The brown pelican is about four feet in length. It has a brown and gray body and a white head with a light brown crown. Its neck is dark brown during breeding season. Young pelicans are all brown. The brown pelican has a very long gray bill with a large pouch of skin. Its pouch holds two or three times more than its stomach can hold -- close to three gallons of fish and water! Males and females look the same.

Coast Guard plane.
Rog in the bay.
We are headed into the Gulf of Mexico.  It is just on the other side of this bridge.  The current is starting to get pretty strong in here.

A siren blows, the bridge is closed to traffic and the span goes up and a boat goes through into the Gulf of Mexico.  It did it a couple of times while we were out there.  One time there was a group of sailboats that went out.  They did not have to raise it for us.  LOL

We are now in the Gulf of Mexico. 
The current is really strong here and it is a lot of work to get out much farther and we are already pooped just getting this farWe can not stop paddling to get some rest then go on because of the current here.  So we decided  us out of shape old heads have no business out here any longer.  The trip back into the bay is a bit easier, but we do need to worry and work so we do not run into the bridge on the way back into the bay.
The pelicans are in the bay floating along so we think they have the right idea.

The brown pelican is a plunge diver. It drops from the air with its wings partly folded and dives into the water to catch its prey. It is the only species of pelican that does this! It uses its bill and pouch like a net. It scoops up fish and water. It strains out the water from the sides of its bill, tips back its head and swallows the fish it caught. It doesn't carry fish in its pouch; it only uses the pouch to scoop up fish. Sometimes gulls will try to steal fish from the pelican's pouch. In fact, they will even perch on the pelican's head and wait for just the right moment to grab a fish! The brown pelican eats menhaden. herring, mullet, sheepshead, silversides and other fish. It also eats crustaceans.
You can see the light colored water in the distance it is very shallow out there.  It is maybe only a foot to a foot and a half deep. 

Brown Pelican Range Map

 View of Sarasota beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico, in the foreground is the Florida Mainland,  with a view of  Sarasota Bay to the right.

In 1885, Sarasota was promoted in Scotland. Many families sailed to America expecting fields of vegetables, housing, and citrus groves. They found only a stump-filled Main Street and most of the colonists left. John Hamilton Gillespie, a Scottish aristocrat, lawyer and member of the Royal Company of Archers, Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland, built what is believed to be America's first golf course in Sarasota.  Attention David our grandson who loves golf and golfing.

 The Ringling Brothers Circus' winter quarters were moved to Sarasota in 1927, thus creating a new identity for Sarasota as a "circus town." Now Sarasota is known as the "Circus Capitol of the World" and is home to many circuses. In 1949, the gymnastics program at Sarasota High School was expanded to include circus acts and the Sarasota Sailor Circus was born. Sarasota County is the only public school system in the United States that sponsors an after school youth circus program known as the Sailor Circus and is also home to Ringling's Clown College.

At the end of WWII, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped a now famous photo of a sailor kissing a young nurse in New York’s Times Square. In 2005, when artist J. Seward Johnson was invited to participate in the annual exhibition of large scale sculptures displayed along the Bayfront in Sarasota, Florida, he decided to recreate the photo in a 26-foot high Styrofoam sculpture. The piece, named “Unconditional Surrender” by Seward, was so popular that local residents attempted to keep it in Sarasota permanently, but they were unable to find enough donors to pay for the sculpture. Recently, a new aluminum version returned to Sarasota, where it is scheduled to remain until March 2009. However this time Sarasota Season of Sculpture, the non-profit group that sponsors the event, is determined to keep the sculpture in Sarasota.
To do so, the organization will need to raise $675,000. The hundreds of people who stop every day to see the sculpture and have their photo taken in front of it may have given SSoS the germ of an idea; they are inviting  couples to renew their wedding vows at 10 a.m. on Valentine’s Day 2009. Billed as “A Monumental Valentine’s Kiss,” every participating couple will receive a certificate of remarriage and be photographed sharing their own kiss under the sculpture. The $100 tax deductible cost per couple will be used toward the purchase of the monument.

Apr 26, 2012
 Sarasota, Florida -- One person was injured after a car crashed into a giant statue of two people kissing in Sarasota. 
The other night we watched Undercover Boss.  We rarely if ever watch this particular show, but this night nothing else was any good so why not watch.  The company was Mo's Southwestern Grill.  We had never been to one and wanted to try it so Rog looked on the GPS and found one we could go to for lunch after our kayak trip.  It was quite good and the employees were great fun.

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