Saint Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery

The next stop on our winter RV journey was Saint Augustine, Florida. We had a beautiful campsite in Anastasia State Park to call home for a few days. The weather was lousy most of the time but we picked a perfect sunny day to do some sightseeing.

At the top of my to do list was visit the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm Wading Bird Rookery. During nesting season wading birds come to nest in the trees in the Native Swamp at the Alligator Farm. The birds who nest here are wild and can come and go as they please. Although it was a little early in the nesting season there were a lot of great egrets and roseate spoonbills wearing their breeding plumage and some pairs were starting to build their nests.

The trees surround a swamp area filled with alligators. A boardwalk winds around the swamp giving visitors close up views of the alligators in the water and the birds in the trees.

The Great Egrets showed off their breeding plumage and pairs worked on their nests.

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Great Egret with breeding plumage at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
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Pair of egrets working on their nest
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Pair of great egrets at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
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Egrets at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery
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You can take my picture now
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Great Egret Breeding Plumage

The Roseate Spoonbills were my favorite.

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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery
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Roseate Spoonbill at Alligator Farm Rookery

Coming up next, more about our St. Augustine adventure including other critters at the Alligator Farm.

Breakfast In the Salt Marsh

When the tide is just right and the minnows in the water are plentiful, wading birds gather in the salt marsh in search of food. White Ibis, Egrets, Herons, and Wood Storks can often be seen feeding side by side in the marsh.

This morning my husband got my attention to show me a long line of white birds lined up on the railing of our neighbor’s dock. By the time I got my camera ready many of the birds had flown down into the marsh but there were still a few white ibis and great egrets surveying the area before diving in to eat.

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White Ibis searching for breakfast in the salt marsh
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Great Egret
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White Ibis
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Great Egret

It’s always entertaining to watch the white ibis as they feed. Usually there is a large group of them poking their long beaks under the water to capture fish. Suddenly, all of them will start wading through the water in the same direction in search of more food. They don’t stay long in any one place. Eventually, they tire of the area and fly off in search of better fishing grounds.

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Ibis dining in the salt marsh
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White Ibis dining in the salt marsh

I never know when I’m going to stumble across flocks of birds in the marsh but it’s always a treat when I see them. I was lucky to see them this morning and was glad to have my camera nearby.

 

Nesting Birds at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood storks, egrets, and herons build their nests every spring in the trees of Woody Pond at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Located in Georgia just a few miles from I 95 in between Savannah and Brunswick, it is a great day trip from our home.

Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Wood storks were placed on the Endangered Species list in 1984. After almost 30 years of conservation efforts to increase the wood stork population, their status was upgraded to Threatened in June, 2014.

A path along the dike beside Woody Pond provides a great place to view the birds. The wood storks and egrets shared the trees.

Wood Storks and Great Egrets
Wood Storks and Great Egrets
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond
Nesting Wood Storks and Great Egrets at Woody Pond

Many of the wood storks were working on their nests. None of their eggs had hatched yet.

Wood Storks building a nest
Wood Storks building a nest
Wood Stork on nest
Wood Stork on nest

As I took photos, Henry used the spotting scope and pointed out a mother egret with chicks that I would have never seen. The nests were a long way from where we were so the picture isn’t the best but it gives you an idea of the size of the baby egret.

Great Egret with chicks
Great Egret with chicks

In the shallow water at the edge of the pond a tri-colored heron entertained us as he searched for food.

After leaving the refuge we stopped at the Smallest Church in America to take a look and do a little geocaching.

Smallest Church in America
Smallest Church in America

An arsonist burned this church in November, 2015. The church is being rebuilt through the efforts of volunteers and the work is almost complete.

After finding the geocache hidden near the church we headed for home.

This Summer, Every Day Was a Good Day

Mona Liza over at The Lowe’s RV Adventures recently asked me if I could name my favorite place.  I didn’t have to think very hard to come up with an answer. My favorite place in the world is right here at home in coastal Georgia near Savannah. So this summer we’ve been enjoying a wonderful summer in our home state of Georgia.

The highlight of our summer was having the grandkids come to visit. Going to the beach, going for boat rides, visiting museums, making homemade ice cream, and catching blue crabs were just a few of the things we got to enjoy with them this summer.

We also enjoyed getting together with our friends and neighbors. We celebrated numerous birthdays, watched Fourth of July fireworks, and shared many meals and laughs.

One of the things I love most about where we live is the natural beauty all around us. I never get tired of all the birds and other wildlife we see each day.  Throw in a few summer thunderstorms, some beautiful sunsets and a few rainbows and you have a summer full of great days.

I created a Mesh Gallery with a few highlights of the summer using Mesh.  I hope you like it.

Every day this summer was a good day. This is my contribution to the WordPress Mesh Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day.

Happy Happy Happy in Louisiana

“Happy, Happy, Happy” – Phil Robertson

After almost six weeks exploring the great state of Texas it was time to head east toward home. We were sad to leave Texas but happy knowing we would soon be home. Our first stop in Louisiana was a place where we had camped on another trip four years ago. I had such fond memories of our first visit there I’ve been looking for an excuse to go back. I even made reservations for site 12, the same one we had camped in before.  With a deck and a fishing dock right in front of the site, it was a perfect place to chill for a couple of days.

Lake Bistineau State Park is located about 20 miles from Bossier City. I remembered how friendly one of the rangers at the park was when we first visited and I was happy to see the same ranger greeted us at the office and checked us in. I have to say he is one of the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful park staff member we have ever met. We had a beautiful view of the lake from our deck and spent a lot of time just chillin’ and watching the herons and egrets fishing in the shallow water along the banks of the lake.

Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau
Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau

I was way behind on doing laundry and was happy to find a small laundry right there in the park. And it was free! There was also WiFi at the park office and I could do a little catching up on the blog while we were there. We did a little shopping in Bossier City and got our fix of more Cajun Food at Shane’s Restaurant. Crawfish Etouffee and some Boudin to go and we were happy!

But it wasn’t all work, shopping and eating. We’re pretty good at sitting and chillin’.

Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau
Turtles at Lake Bistineau
Turtles at Lake Bistineau

Did I mention we had the campground almost all to ourselves? There were only two other campers there the first night, and the next two nights there was only one other camper in the park. Perfect!

But eventually we had to move on. When we made the decision to go home via I-20 we could not miss a stop in West Monroe, Louisiana to see the headquarters of Duck Commander.

Duck Commander was established in 1972 by Phil Robertson. After an outstanding football career in college Phil had an opportunity to play professional football in the NFL. He turned down the offer because he didn’t love football. He loved hunting and fishing and wanted to make a living doing what he loved. He was unhappy with the duck calls that were available at the time and in 1972 started selling his own design.

Phil is now retired and his son Willie Robertson is now the CEO of the family run company and Duck Commander products are sold worldwide. Members of the Robertson family star in the popular A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

Lake Bistineau State Park is located near Doyline, Louisiana. The sites have paved water and electric hook ups, pads, picnic table, and fire pit. We had a premium site with a wooden deck overlooking the lake. There are several fishing docks located in the campground. The park also has a boat launch.

To visit Duck Commander we stayed at Ouachita RV Park in Monroe, Louisiana. The full hookup park had gravel pull through sites with free WiFi that actually worked, a nice laundry room, a meeting room, and a small pond.