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Friday, November 30, 2018

CREW - Bird Rookery Swamp in Naples

The 'birding' bug is coming back and having good friends around helps to get me out there and revisit my passion of being outdoors and surrounded by nature.
Today was such a day and interestingly enough I was surrounded by friends whose friendship was acquired online - connections that were made several years ago with a common passion - BIRDING
Today our meeting took place in Naples at a wonderful and serene place called: Bird Rookery Swamp. You can walk the entire trail (12 miles) or not - we ended up being so enthralled with everything we encountered that it took us 4 hours to cover one mile.....come along and see what we saw.....
 This was a nice surprise - a Snail Kite!
 Asters with Red Maple Leaf

 Coyote Cloudywing - Skipper
 Pair of Red-shouldered Hawk - female on right.
 Pileated Woodpecker - male

 Mama Raccoon with 3 little ones
 Common Squirrel
 River Otter - there were two of them
The rest of our sightings were Warblers, Buntings, Gnatcatchers and many others - see bird list for details.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The new and improved Bailey Tract

I knew it had been a while since my last blog when I realized that  I'd almost forgotten how to sign in - good thing I keep copious notes :). The topic for today's blog is the Bailey Tract, my home away from home....you see, it has been closed to the public for restoration which took a whole 3 months.....it finally reopened a week ago and today was my first opportunity to visit and take it all in.
It was early this morning that I made my entrance - pleasantly surprised to see that I had the whole place to myself....come along and join me.....
 This is the trail view from the parking lot, my first impression is that the path is much wider than it was.....
then I came across the first culvert, 

and the second.....

and the third....as I look to my left (south) I see the pond where the gator used to hang out....

then I looked to my right (north) and I see the pond where all the rails were seen this past winter/spring season....

as I proceed forward I can see the bench by the Ani Pond coming into view.....
my first reaction is how big the pond is because I had anticipated a much smaller pond - though this look won't stay this way very long and I say that because of several factors.....we've had a lot of rain these past few weeks and it was evident as I walked along the Bailey Tract....Spartina Grass seedlings, by the hundreds, have been planted within this "Ani Pond" and with time this grass will occupy a large portion of this pond....and....it grows and spreads quickly.
Okay, moving to the right of the bench and heading north....I come across another culvert.....
and another.....

and then I looked back at the Ani Pond - take notice of the Spartina Grass Seedlings along the edge of the pond - also - the path that used to circle around the pond is no longer available - giving more privacy to those Sparrows that I used to see from that path. So, turning around and moving forward (north) I come across what used to be called the "Tarpon Sloughs" - now it is one large pond - which was occupied by a Spotted Sandpiper and several Killdeers - I counted 8. This pond had been barricaded over the later part of the winter into the spring and I often saw folks walking past those signs and it made me wonder - now, without the barricades, will they walk into the water to get closer to the wildlife?

Once I passed that area and kept moving north, I took a left turn - I entered the path leading me to the boardwalk - but hey, wait, there's no boardwalk anymore.....
what I found instead was a larger path and another culvert....
looking north - along the Mangrove pond - you can see the cell tower that is located by the Sanibel Garden Preserves.....moving on.....I noticed how much the vegetation has grown over the summer, which is typical really....but look.....in the distance....there's something new.....
a bird house! A Purple Martin bird house.

Once I passed the bird house - I had reached the farthest back end of this path - I looked for the Gallinules and Ducks but there were none at that moment.
I then came full circle by the bench that sits by the Ani Pond - there is also a sign that gives plenty of info about the Sanibel Rat - hence the reason for that change at the Bailey Tract.
Now, it's time to explore the rest of the Bailey Tract....this boardwalk leading to the Airport canal is still in place - though you have to watch where you're walking because the vegetation has taken over - within those grasses are very healthy poison ivy vines.

I'm now travelling along the edge of the Airport canal - heading west....reaching the end of that path I noticed another addition....
another Purple Martin house - this one even has bird decoys.

As I keep following that path - now walking parallel to the Sanibel River - I come across one of my favorite spot - in the winter time quite a few ducks, coots, gallinules and wading birds can be seen from here.
I bypass the center trail and continue on toward the Smith Pond which sits by Island Inn Road.....I start to notice those 'halos' when taking my pictures....

The old broken bird house that was erected by Boy Scouts a long time ago is still standing. I proceed down this trail and more "halos" are visible - I look at the wildflowers and I am reminded of the late Elaine Jacobson who spent a lot of time here during the winter - sharing her love of the fauna with all who wanted to hear about it - I'm thinking that Elaine has arrived at her final destination and is now sitting in the most beautiful garden, I'm positive that she's quite happy there. 

Back on the trail and heading back south - I come across yet another culvert...I turn to my right and head into the center trail and look to my right - where the Bitterns were seen this past winter/spring.
None of this has changed - other than more growth due to the sun and the summer rain.
I reflected on comments that I heard when this renovation was just in the stages of discussions and how folks ventured to say that it would affect the wildlife/birds as a result of this change and as I continued to keep track of the birds that I encountered, I noticed that the number of species is about the same, if not a tad bit more than previous years during this time period.
The bench is still here - a nice seat for observation except now the vegetation is so overgrown that one cannot really see the water view if seated on that bench......hence....time to get up and go explore some more.
The usual wildlife was observed - lizards, turtles and marsh rabbits were numerous, some flies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and bees in small numbers.

As I make my way back - I spotted an Osprey and again came face to face with a memory of the late Bird Westall - oh, how he loved those Ospreys, I bet the Ospreys miss him too.
As I rounded the last of my corners - I could hear conversations from afar, I looked at my watch and realize that it was time for more folks to show up and enjoy this beautiful parcel of wildlife called the Bailey Tract.
After all, there is no other place like it....my home away from home.
Click on the link below to see the bird species that I encountered while documenting this transformation.
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S48363338