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 see, it has been closed to the public for restoration which took a whole 3 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 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 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 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 home away from home.
Click on the link below to see the bird species that I encountered while documenting this transformation.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


Well, if you've been following me - you know that I lost my husband last summer after 40 years of marriage and life has changed on many levels and as such my blog has been neglected. Birding has also taken a 'backstage' so to speak for many different reasons and recently I went ahead and took the plunge and adopted a cat.
It had been suggested by many of my friends that I should get myself a pet to help with the emptiness and I figured....what have I got to lose.
I contacted H.E.A.L. in regards to a cat that had been in the paper for several weeks and I was informed that it had been adopted, however a sweet girl, which had not made the paper yet, was available, after chatting with the lady and telling her my lack of experience - she offered that I take her and try it out.
It has now been 5 weeks and I've decided that she's a keeper :). I'm learning a lot about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. and it's quite an without further ado, let me introduce you to Minou (French for Kitty)….
She is 1/2 Ragdoll - 1/2 Siamese - she is 3 years old and loves to eat, anything I serve is swell by her.

 She has intense piercing blue eyes and her fur is silky soft, she is learning to play and to trust me.

 I'd like to think that she feels comfortable in her new home - though, as cat goes - she is quite independent and does what she wants when she wants it and when she got tired of getting her picture taken - she simply covered her eyes.
Thanks for indulging me and for letting me share with you my new forever companion, Minou.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Miami and the Exotics

A new trip opportunity was presented this year - a visit to Miami with a local guide and the chances to see birds I'd never seen before....."Count me in!"
Our excursion began when we boarded the van driven by our trip leader, Ken. A couple stops along the way....Kirby Storter boardwalk and a visit to Shark's Valley - which brought memories back of a long time ago when I visited with my late husband, Tony and our two children who were 3 and 9 at the time - wow, that was 30 years ago! Anyway, I digress - we made it to Miami, settled into the hotel after dinner and got up bright and early on Sunday morning - come along and see what was on our tour.....
It is my hope that I labeled these Parakeets properly - there were so many different kinds that we saw along the way, you just wait and see...and oh.....

Surprise! We also spotted a migrant - a Cape-may Warbler.

A Spot-breasted Oriole! How sweet is that!

The Parakeets it turns out - they are very quiet while feeding in the trees however when they take off flying is when the chorus can be heard.

Some deception with those photos but I did get good views through my bins - the Red-whiskered BulBul was definitely my favorite of them all.

Several times during our journey we heard and saw those beautiful Cedar Waxwings.

And, do tell me, how in the world can a Moscovy Duck have such beautiful ducklings?

Sure, in the midst of all those exotics, I couldn't help myself but feel enamored with this Ring-billed Gull that was surrounded by those silver swirls.

A pretty Swan Goose.

Check this one out - we all stood on the side of the road with our bins on and when the Peacock started to shimmer and tremble its plumes - we unanimously exploded with ooohs and aaahs.

Then our bird guide, Paul Bithorn, took us to see the Hill Myna - another life bird for me - we watched as it strutted and showed us its 'waddle' on top of its head.

These were quite entertaining to watch....and so love-able.

Some Egyptian Goose - don't you think?

Around a shopping center we were able to find this pair of Common Myna.

Around the corner another Moscovy Duck with its little brood - how lovely to see this one that was all yellow.

A Red-tailed Hawk made an appearance and got the group into a lively discussion.

Near the horse tracks - at least 100 Pink Flamingos - not so much shrimp in those waterways.

More exotics.

and more Parakeets.

Well, as the wind blows - it's time to wrap it up and fly away back home....

A great time was had by all with memories to last a lifetime.