Bob and I went down to the Dock this morning for Christmas breakfast at Kona Joe’s — a ritual we established last year when we arrived in Cedar Key the day before Christmas with no plans whatsoever for what we would do Christmas Day. Kona Joe’s was the only place that was open, or maybe just the only one we noticed, and they served a substantial breakfast (which was all Bob cared about) with good coffee (which is all I cared about), and we decided we’d eat Christmas breakfast there every year.

Early in the afternoon we decided to take a walk up at the Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. We got there at 1:30 p.m. and drove straight to the new observation deck a birdwatcher I ran into on one of my early morning bird walks had told me about. We took the southern entrance to the Nature Drive and drove over two miles before we spotted it on the right. For future reference, it’s a ways beyond the McCormick Creek turnoff. The observation deck is at the end of a short boardwalk into an interior pond surrounded by the thick and tangled bottomland forest that characterizes most of this river-based NWR. As we approached the deck, we saw several WHITE IBISES flying in, and when we arrived, we saw a huge mixed-age, mixed-sex flock of ibises in a variety of plumages. Some of them looked like pinto ponies. They were all just congregated at one end of the pond, making low-level murmuring sounds and fluttering their wings as they splashed water on themselves and bathed in this huge communal bird bath.

There were also a few ducks in the pond. One was a DIVING DUCK with a brown head, light-colored eye, light-colored bill, gray body, white upper neck, and a white wing patch that flashed big when it flew. Bob identified  it as a female COMMON GOLDENEYE. There were also two or three nondescript brown DABBLING DUCKS at the other end of the pond that might have been the TEAL the birdwatcher who told me about this place mentioned to me.

Next we drove around to the Suwannee River Trail and at 2:45 p.m. headed down to the river. About halfway there, I heard birds chattering overhead. I couldn’t see them in the thick trees, but I could hear more and more of them. As we approached the river, I saw some of them flitting around in lower branches and discovered that they were ROBINS. I had never heard robins making such a racket. There must have been hundreds of them, all moving around in the trees chattering as they went. I noticed a lot of small dark blue fruits on the boardwalk — grapes? — and I think the robins may have been engaged in a massive feeding frenzy….

We had to rush back to Cedar Key to be at the Island Hotel in time for our 4:00 p.m. Christmas Dinner seating. That’s another ritual we established last year, and the dinner was as good this year as last. Bob had GROUPER with all the trimmings and KEY LIME PIE for dessert. I had a huge dish of CEDAR KEY CLAMS with pasta and a small side plate of sweet and tasty things — plus a bite of Bob’s pie for dessert.

Altogether we enjoyed another lovely Christmas Day in Cedar Key.

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