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[ft-l] I drove my Chevy to the levy . . .
But the levy was dry. And a good thing, too, after all the wading we did
yesterday. The Chevy in question was my Cavalier and the levy in question
surrounds the Emeralda Marsh outside of Eustis, the site of the Solar Bear
and Navigator hike of the day.
This hike was for the birds -- literally. I have never seen so many birds of
all kinds as we did today. It got to the point where I was thinking, "Ho
hum, another limpkin . . . ho hum, another great blue heron . . ." etc. We
saw singular examples of bald eagle, marsh rabbit, red-tailed hawk, snake and
field mouse. The unfortunate field mouse in question was gripped in the
talons of the aforementioned red-tailed hawk.
Without the wildlife, there isn't much to say about the merits of a walk
along a dike. Otherwise it might have gotten monotonous, but we walked 7 and
a half miles of a continuous wildlife parade which made for an exciting day.
Six alligators retreated at our advance along the dike, allowing us only to
hear a big splash and to see at most the slap of a purposeful tail as they
disappeared in the marsh.
Red shouldered hawks and ospreys patrolled regularly. Great blue herons
numbering several dozen squawked at us and flew off in a huff usually
circling back to the same area after we concluded our trespass. They seem to
be solitary hunters and territorial. Never have I seen so many.
When we reached open water, we were greeted by thousands of moorhens and
coots, distinguished by the color of their beaks. They were raucous, nervous
and noisy, exploding into flight using their feet to walk on water as they
take off. Most of our hikes are fairly silent. This one was a great
carnival of sounds, unlike any other hike I've done.
We watched anhingas and cormorants fly and land and dive underwater. We
watched them perch and spread their wings to dry. We noted the difference
between the little blue heron and the Louisiana heron with its white breast
and bottom of wings. We watched the social white ibises with their long
curved orange bills. The red winged black birds gave the scene a nice touch
The bald eagle landed in a large stand of pond cypress. We hurried to the
spot in hopes of getting a picture, but it flew off at a moment before Sandy
was prepared. We waited for a while watching it circle and gain altitude in
hope that it would return. But after a few minutes we left, satisfied with
the picture etched in our memories.
We watched as a visible line of showers advanced toward us, prompting us to
don our raingear and stow the cameras, but in 5 minutes we had weathered the
brunt of it. The temperature was pleasant all day and a breeze eliminated
the possibility of insect problems. All in all, another wonderful adventure
on a first class Central Florida trail.
I hope you are enjoying reading these reports, as much as I enjoy writing
them. But I would really enjoy reading about some of your adventures as
well. Who is going to step up and write about their hike? It will take the
pressure off so I won't have to get embarrassed to find that I wrote fairy
when I should have written ferry in a previous report. I mean try and
visualize riding a fairy across the St. Johns. I'd need to wear my tutu to
make that scene work! :)
Solar Bear and Navigator