Yesterday we hit up St. Marks NWR over in Wakulla Co. Saw a nice bald eagle on the way. We are really going to miss baldies and box turtles. As a friend would say, both are as common as rats here. I would estimate we’ve had at least a hundred sighting of each over the past year. There are 54 eagle nests in Franklin County so undoubtedly we are seeing individuals multiple times. Still, it is a treat to drive a few miles to town for milk or an oil change and see 3 or 4 in 15 minutes time; walk outside the house or hit the trail and see / hear a pair soaring overhead. As far as Gulf Coast box turtles go, Aubrey has found as many as 12 in one day and it is not uncommon to see a couple a day when the weather is just right.
But I digress……St. Marks: A nice day with low traffic volume which made for lazy driving and parking wherever we wanted. Saw an otter crossing the road shortly after passing the visitor’s center. The usual birds were seen- anhingas, grebes, and great blue herons. Lots of yellow rumped warblers and mockers too. A few nice sized gators were out basking, 7 or 8 feet in length and the usual Suwannee cooters were out basking. Saw 4 more eagles, one soaring and a group of 3 (juvenile in nest and both adults in nearby trees). A good mix of ducks were seen (Redheads, Green-Winged Teal, Mallards, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, and American Wigeon). Lots of little blue herons, Lousiana herons, and Snowy egrets. We then decided to get off Lighthouse road for a bit. Aubrey came up with a nice score, her first (lifer) black swamp snake (Seminatrix pygaea) while flipping logs on the edge of a wetland. A good day all around, especially since we scavenged 36 sheets of tin from a couple of abandoned lots and roadside dumps for a friend who said he would pay us 5 bucks a sheet ($165.00). That ought to get us close to New Mexico. More later…