February 2009


9:00 a.m.: On the back road to the grocery store, we saw DOVES,  YELLOWRUMPS, a SNOWY EGRET, a KINGFISHER, a GREAT BLUE HERON, GRACKLES, a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, MOCKINGBIRDS, an OSPREY, a GREAT EGRET (non-breeding Bob says — dark feet yellow bill).

At Park Place we saw a PHOEBE and a ROBIN. At the Beach we saw SANDERLINGS and a mid-sized shorebird, and a WILLET.

Dock (near Capt. Doug’s “office”): Saw a TERN.

I think we saw the MARBLED GODWIT for the first time today — a life list bird for Bob and me too.

En route to Cedar Key this morning, we think we saw a BALD EAGLE along Route 24. At Park Place, where we checked in as soon as we got there, we saw YELLOW RUMPS in a shrub right outside our window. Wandering around town, we saw a MOCKINGBIRD. In the beach area across from Park Place, we saw: BLACK SKIMMERS, a WILLET, a PELICAN, GULLS, a EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, FISH CROWS, and STARLINGS.

I think we met BOB WITMAN our first day in Cedar Key, but it may have been our second. Whenever we met him, it was fortuitous. What an interesting man — and a good birder to boot.

We spent the day at the Florida Museum of Natural History. They have an amazing collection of butterflies and moths. I could have spent a longer time with the butterfly/moth collection than we did, but we wanted to see the rest of the museum.

In the text of a sign that explained some of the beliefs of the Calusa Indians, I read that the Calusas believed that human beings had THREE SOULS: ONE IN THE PUPILS OF YOUR EYES, ONE IN YOUR SHADOW, AND ONE IN THE REFLECTION OF YOURSELF YOU SEE IN WATER. I like that idea.

The train dropped us off in Savannah before breakfast. Poor planning on our part. If we had gone clear to JACKSONVILLE, we could have eaten breakfast and gotten off the train at a reasonable hour. As it was, we took a cab from the train station to the airport to pick up our rental car and stopped at a Waffle House on our way out of the airport for breakfast. The first birds of our February 2009 Trip South of Snow: a flock of COOTS swimmiing around a pond behind the Waffle House.

I had planned that we’d get off the train in Savannah because I wanted to give Jekyll Island a chance to appeal to us. No such luck. It was cold and windy, and the whole island seemed more like a well-groomed golf course than I remembered it — all very high end and not especially inviting to wanderers like us. Maybe we liked it before because we were camping? We decided not to stay and wound up driving all the way to Gainesville today. We hit Gaineswille just as rush hour was starting and got caught in a rush hour and construction related traffic jam from hell. We somehow managed to miss our turn onto Route 24 and spent about two hours navigating to the wrong exit for the Motel 6 we were trying to find. What a day. Not a good way to start our winter trip….