Thursday, May 8, 2014

Florida - May 5, 2014

We only planned two full days in St. Augustine so today would be our last day at the rookery.  Once again we arrived before 8AM and the line ahead of us was less than half what it was yesterday.  It turns out that the last day of the Photo Fest was yesterday so that did make a big difference.

We were in for a treat at the rookery this morning because when we arrived the alligators were starting to bellow.  We had never seen this in person before (only through the eyes of the great Jeff Corwin) and it was amazing.  Not only could you hear the low frequency bellow but you could see all the dancing droplets of water around the gator and you could literally feel the call as well.

We captured some decent video of the behavior that can be seen here.

The rest of the rookery experience was quite similar to yesterday but I tried to concentrate more on the chicks today.

Juvenile Egrets learning how to carry and place sticks:
Great Egret Stick Battle

Great Egret Chicks:
Great Egret Chicks

Great Egret Chick Stretching

Of course, all the adult birds posed nicely as well.

Tri-colored Heron:
Tricolored Heron

Roseate Spoonbill:
Roseate Spoonbill

Would you build a nest here?
Tricolored Heron Nest Site

While the highlight of the Alligator Farm is clearly the rookery, they do have a decent zoo complete with all types of crocodilia and even some rainforest mammals like tamarin and marmosets.  But, we aren't great fans of zoos since we would rather see these animals in the wild when possible. The zoo appeared to have good sized enclosures and they appeared to take good care of the animals.

We left the rookery a bit early today since we had a 10AM boat trip booked.  The trip takes you around the St Augustine harbor and estuary and turned out to be quite nice. 

Osprey with lunch:
Osprey with Lunch

Atlantic Bottle-nose Dolphin:
Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Ponce de Leon Replica Ship:
Ponce de Leon Replica Ship

We also spotted Least Tern, jumping Mullet and a Green Sea Turtle on the boat trip.

After a great lunch at the A1A Ale House, we hit the highway for a drive across the state to Crystal River.  The drive is pretty scenic and we did have a great excuse to get out and stretch our legs at one point.

Sandhill Cranes:
Sandhill Crane Family

The next two nights were spent in the care of the nice folks at Citrus Hills.  We wanted to check out Citrus Hills as a possible place to live someday so we signed up for the 3 day tour.  So, the next report will be a multi-day one since we didn't get out to see the local nature as much as we typically would.

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