Getting back to normal . . .

Taking a drive through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge at lunch today helped us take one more step back toward normal.  The wildlife drive opened up yesterday for the first time after Irma came through and damaged a lot of vegetation.  People have been asking how the birds fared during Irma.  It was great to see birds doing their normal thing!

After leaving Ding, we came upon one of the big grabber trucks picking up piles of vegetation.  Unfortunately, I had to take the photos through the (dirty) windshield!  But, you get the gist!  We are all very thankful to the city for sending these trucks around!

Early last Sunday morning, we headed to the beach to check out how it made it through Irma.  We came upon the workers staging at Bailey's Grocery parking lot before going out to tackle the downed power lines!  Thank you to everyone working so hard to restore our power!

The places where residents can park along West Gulf Dr. were all blocked by downed trees.  So, we went to Tarpon Beach and took a short walk.  It was early and overcast, so the photos are a bit dark.  There was a good deal of erosion.

This guy was checking a sea turtle nest to see if there were any eggs left after Irma.  He determined that they were most likely all washed away to Mexico by now!  

It was comforting to see a lot of brown pelicans!

And then back home to this tiny little frog . . .

Irma aftermath . . .

The island of Sanibel fared much better than had been expected during Hurricane Irma.  Irma was predicted to hit Sanibel head on, but turned about 50 miles south at Marco Island and went inland.  As a result, we didn't have a lot of rain and the wind mostly did damage to trees, instead of homes and businesses.  For the most part, most everyone evacuated off the island.  I wanted to share a few photos from around the neighborhood and the island.  It is amazing to see huge trees that either fell away from a home or parallel to the house, just missing it.  

We were walking out our front door when this "grabber" came by.  He was just making sure all debris was out of the roadway.  They will be back to start grabbing all of the vegetation debris and loading it up.  We waved and gave him a thumbs up!!  All the people working to clean up and fix the utilities have been working so hard!

This pile of vegetation is just from our yard and our neighbor's yard!!  You can't really see, but it starts at the right and goes around the circle to the left.

This tree fell away from our friend's pool and house!

These next few pics are at homes in our neighborhood of Gumbo Limbo.

This huge tree was destroyed at my friend's home.  Several other trees were damaged, too.

These next two pics are two trees in the same yard.  They were huge old trees.  Both managed to miss the home.

This tree was down in front of the Wells Fargo Bank.

The pic below is at the entrance to Casa Ybel Resort.  That is a HUGE tree!!

Not sure what type of lines these are, but they were almost touching the ground.  This is where the Causeway Blvd. meets Periwinkle.

The one below is across the street from the Sanibel Welcome Center.

Bailey Road took quite a beating!!  The crews are working hard!

Only a few restaurants are open, some with limited menus.  The ones that are open, like Sanibel Fresh below, have put out signs to let people know.

I hope to be able to get out and get some wildlife photos soon.  Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge had a lot of vegetation damage.  Workers are doing their best to get it cleaned up and safe for visitors as soon as possible.  I'm looking forward to being able to do something as normal as a drive through the refuge to take photos, again!

Birds, Gators, Sharks, and Crab . . . oh my!

A week of photos from my yard, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and the beach.  Our son is on the island for a visit and wanted to go to the beach today to see if we might find a few birds to photograph.  We couldn't have asked for more birds!

We went through Ding after low tide was over, due to a mistake in the tide chart I happened to check.  We still had lots of photo ops, though!  The Reddish Egret is always fun to watch dance around.

This tiny Fiddler Crab was fiercely guarding his muddy burrow!

I had no clue that sharks would come into the bay at Ding.  The Manatee will come into the bay, so why wouldn't a shark, right?  A park guide pointed the shark out.  I have no idea what type of shark it is, so if anyone knows what it is just from the fin, please chime in on the comments section!  The exciting part was when it got into a kerfuffle.  It was pretty far away, but I caught it with my long lens.

There was a huge splash and everything happened very fast.  I managed to get two photos.  We assumed the shark found a tarpon to eat.  But, if you look really close at the second photo below, I think it was more like he ran into a couple of gators in the shallow water.

Click on the photo below to enlarge it.  Look on the right hand side of the photo.  I'm pretty sure that is a gator's back.  You see one of the fins of the shark mid photo, but there is a lot of other movement in the water, like maybe another gator?  I was just so far away that it is hard to be sure exactly what happened.  But, it was exciting, anyway!

Then, back home to our resident 10 foot gator in the water behind our house!

The bird below was in a tree on Captiva Island.  I had no clue what type of bird it was, so I asked the bird expert in our neighborhood.  He said that it isn't anything exciting.  It's a juvenile European Starling, but it still has some pretty feathers on its chest.  

Common Gallinule (aka Moorhen) Nest!

Our neighbor pointed out a Moorhen nest in a tree just over the water in their backyard.  While my son and I were taking photos of it, the big gator was keeping an eye on us from nearby.  We are keeping fingers crossed that the eggs hatch and the young moorhens make it without being devoured by the gator.

She is sitting on 3 very pretty little eggs and proud of it!

This Little Green Heron seemed to have a big interest in the eggs as well.  Many predators are watching the progress it seems!

Yeah, you may think you are hidden, but we see you!!!

I zoomed in on the photo from above and put an arrow pointing to my reflection in the gator's eye.  You can see the outline of the roof from my neighbors house, too.  He definitely has me in his sights!

Hot Summer Days!

Lots of hot and quiet summer days on the island, but I was able to find a few photo ops.  There are several red-shouldered hawks hanging around.  In fact, there are four of them that I see almost every day circling around overhead.  If you click on the Wildlife Cam tab above, you'll see one in the backyard along with a Florida water snake.

My candy corn buddy . . .

This Pileated Woodpecker didn't really like the size of the door on our birdhouse below, so he decided to fix it up!

The night blooming cactus had several open blooms this morning and several buds that will open in the next day or so.  The blooms last until around 9 am and then wilt.  If you snooze, you lose!

Juvenile Anhinga Sisters!

These two young Anhinga sisters were all white fluff and pink faces just a couple of weeks ago.  Now, they each have the long, light colored neck that shows they are female.  Some of the white fluff is still visible and their faces are a bit pink.  I love the webbed feet, too!  

A little Common Gallinule (aka Moorhen) was peeking through the trees and watching me photograph the Anhinga sisters.

Two butterflies landed on the grass in front of me, just begging to be photographed.

Little Iguana

This little guy was hanging out in the backyard, watching my husband mow the yard.   This iguana was only a couple of feet long. 

The big gator came around for another visit.  The space between his nose and his eyes is at least 10 inches, making him about 10 ft. long.  He looks just as fierce as he did previously!  Keeping my distance!

These branches extend out over the lake, so I cannot get any closer, but I would love to get better photos of these babies.  The Yellow-Crowned Nigh Heron babies are outgrowing their nest very fast!  The Anhinga nest underneath is being tended by one of the parents (bottom left).  I see only one Anhinga baby head, but lots of white fluff.  Not sure if that is one or two babies.

Woodpeckers love to get into the metal gutters and hammer away!  It can be startling when you're asleep inside near that gutter!

These little marsh hares were enjoying the grass since we've had so much rain!  They are so different from the long eared rabbits that I'm more used to seeing where I grew up.  These almost have mouse ears!

I do love a colorful hibiscus!

This is the unusual bark of the Gumbo Limbo tree, which our neighborhood is named after.

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

My neighbor called to tell me that a large Florida softshell turtle had emerged from the lake and was headed across her yard.  I grabbed my camera and ran outside.  It was already out of her yard and booking it across the street and through the neighbor's yard.  I had no idea they could be that fast!  It stopped when it saw us, so I could get a couple of pics.  That face . . .  That snorkel nose . . .

We walked back to the water behind our houses and this pretty Yellow-Crowned Night Heron posed for me.  Then, he saw something at the water's edge, grabbed it and almost had it eaten before I could grab some pics.  It happened so fast that I couldn't tell what it was.  It was either a very large bug or a small crab or probably a tree crab.

Why did the Iguana cross the road?

I was on a long business call last week, when my husband saw this Green Iguana crossing the street in front of our home.  Even though it took him a couple of minutes to figure out how to even turn on my camera, he was able to get a good photo of the iguana!  If you look close, it appears that something took a swipe at the iguana's tail.  Might need a band-aid on that!  Also, take a look at the Wildlife Cam tab at the top of the page, and scroll to the bottom.  I added 4 pics this morning.  In one,  you will see a large gator waiting for a meal to come a little closer.  In another, there is a Green Heron on a limb.  That's the first Green Heron I've caught on that wildlife camera.

We've had so many clouds and so much rain, that I almost missed the full moon last week.  I was up early one morning, just as the sky was lightening up, and caught this pic below.  I didn't take the time to put the camera on a tripod, so the photo is not very clear, but the early morning clouds made it interesting.

A Day of Birds!

I started out the morning taking random photos of birds in our back yard.  Then, it was on to the beach for some pics.

The Common Gallinule is always scared of me, but today, there were two on the water behind our house and they didn't fly away. 

Is it just me, or does their beak look like Halloween candy corn?!!

My neighbor let me know that the Yellow Crowned Night Heron nest in the tree behind our  homes appeared to have several little heads peaking out.  Looks like 4 beaks in that nest!   No room for the parents in there!  I love the wild hair day they are all having.  There was also a nest with an Anhinga sitting in it, on the next branch down, but I couldn't get a good pic of it. 

I saw this out in the middle of the water.  I wasn't sure what it was until I took the photos off the camera.  The best I can tell, it appears it is a baby gator's head above the water and a large gator under the surface.  I took one photo and they disappeared and turned up in another area a minute later.

A blue jay and a common Grackle popped up to get their photos taken, too!  If I'm wrong about the Grackle, someone correct me!

At the beach, we were treated to a show of a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron eating a large crab.  It was quite entertaining!  First, he shook him good, seemingly to remove the sand.

He plucked the legs off and smacked it on the ground several times.  Then, tossed his head back and threw it down the hatch!  I don't see how he got that huge crab . . . shell and all . . . down that little neck!  How does he digest that hard shell?  Then, he picked up all the legs and swallowed them, too!

Ahhhh.  That hit the spot!!

This tree was full of Brown Pelicans.  The pic only shows some of them!  It reminded me of the P. D. Eastman children's book, "Go, Dog. Go!" with the great big dog party in the tree.  The only thing the pelicans needed were party hats!  If I were industrious, I would photoshop some party hats on them!

We are enjoying some beautiful clear water at the beaches right now.  

Morning River Otter Visit!

My husband and I were looking at the pics from the last 24 hours of the wildlife cam this morning.  The last photos on the cam, just before he pulled the memory card, were of a river otter.  We were looking at the photos and my husband looked out the window and saw the otter walking along the street in front of our house.  I ran downstairs, grabbed my camera, and went outside in my pajamas!  I managed to get a few pics after she crossed the street and before she went into the woods.  The otter appears to be a nursing mama otter.  You can see the wildlife cam pics by clicking on the Wildlife Cam tab above.

They have such a distinctive run!

Memorial Day Weekend!

Beautiful blue skies and high temps ushered in Memorial Day weekend on Sanibel Island this year.  Remembering all those who have served this great country, especially those who have given their lives.

We started out the morning with a visit from a small gator in the lake behind our home.  My husband saw two gators and came to tell me to bring the camera.  But, this guy was the only one that hung around for a photo op. 

I believe this is one of the young osprey that has flown the nest.  His eyes appear to still be a little orange.

The next two photos captured a cloud of some sort of insect.  I have no idea what they were, but the sun hit them just right to capture the photo.  It was sort of mesmerizing watching them swirl around. 

We took a nice long walk on the beach this morning.  I'm sure it became much more crowded as the day went on, but it was nice and quiet for our walk.  The water was beautiful and we found lots of live shells and also several without critters in them to bring home!

This pen shell had a sponge attached to it.  I thought it was interesting!

I almost always come home from the beach with at least one bird pic!  This Snowy Egret was fishing in the shade of a big tree at the water's edge.

I love the blues and greens of the water.

Sunday morning walk on the beach!

It was a beautiful morning for a walk on the beach.  We saw a few birds and got a look at the beach erosion which has gotten surprisingly worse recently.  I have a photo from today and from a year ago to compare.

This Yellow-Crowned Night Heron surprised me when he flew by!

There's almost always an opportunity to get an Osprey photo at the beach since they are usually out fishing!

Bad hair days are the worst, right?

Almost didn't see this little guy.  He was all covered in sand.

I've never seen the drop from the erosion be quite this steep during my time on Sanibel!

The first photo below was today.  The next photo was about a year ago when our grandson was visiting.  Taken in almost the same spot, the difference is striking!

And then back to where we left our shoes and beach bag to see a crow rummaging for shiny objects!

Backyard Zoo!

It has been a beautiful Saturday on Sanibel Island with low humidity and a nice cool breeze!  It's a welcome respite after several unusually hot and humid days for this time of year!  I didn't even have to leave my yard to get photos today.  Well, I did go up on my next door neighbor's deck to get a little closer to the Osprey nest.

The babies are not so little any more!  Two of them were looking over the side (orange eyes) and one of the adults was in the nest (yellow eyes on the right).

This is probably the biggest Yellow Rat Snake we've seen in our yard.  He looked about 4 or 5 feet long.

Snakes are best when moving "away" from me!!

This juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron landed right in front of us for a photo op!

A female Anhinga was grooming herself on a branch over the water.  I love the turquoise eyes!

The long neck gives them the nickname of Snakebird.  In the water, they look like a snake as they swim around looking for fish.

Our Frangipani trees are in full bloom.  I love the sweet smell they have.  So pretty against the blue skies today!

The Gator is still around!

The gator that crossed in front of the wildlife cam is probably the same one hanging around the water behind our house now.  I have to assume that he is waiting to grab one of the many ducks that also inhabit that area!  The last pic at the bottom of the wildlife cam page shows him watching the embankment where they hang out all day.

He's quite gnarly looking!

At the same time I was taking the photos of the gator, this little Common Gallinule was swimming around not far from the gator.

The next two pics are of two hawks in the tree across the street.  I don't usually see two hawks landing there together.  They caught sight of me and headed out, though!  

The juvenile Bald Eagle below was hovering around the Osprey nest until they chased him away!

As the sun sets on another day, one of the young Osprey is exercising his wings.  The parents are trying to entice them to venture out.

Gator in my yard!!

We have a wildlife cam at the back edge of our yard.  Every morning, we look at the photos from the past 24 hours.  When we looked at the photos this morning, we had a bit of a surprise!  This big gator walked in front of the camera yesterday evening just after 7:30 pm (camera hasn't been reset to daylight savings time).  We also have a webcam attached to the back of our home.  The pool cage was in the way, but you can see the gator coming from the street beside our home walking very fast to the water.  This is THE reason we have a cage around our pool!!  As a reference point, from the leaf you see under the end of his snout to that white pole is 4 ft.  So, we are guessing that he is probably at least 6 ft. long, maybe a little more.  There are some more photos of him on the Wildlife Cam tab above.  Scroll to the bottom of that page to see them.

Easter 2017

Easter traditionally signals the end of the tourist high season on Sanibel Island.  Daily life and the streets become a bit easier for the residents to navigate.  However, the businesses certainly appreciate the extra business during high season!  The birds that migrate north for the summer are gone for the most part.  We still have lots of wild to be enjoyed, though!  The wide open beaches are really nice, too!

This Little Blue Heron flew right above my head, almost too close to photograph while we were walking through the Bailey Tract. 

The Little Blue Heron goes through a white phase before it matures, making it very hard to distinguish from a Snowy Egret.  I'm going to step out on a limb and say that the bird below is a Little Blue Heron in its white phase.  I would hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong!

There was one little Black-Necked Stilt hanging around.

The field next to the walking path at the Bailey Tract was absolutely full of Dragonflies sitting atop these sticks.  Maybe someone can tell me what they were up to?

The beach was almost empty on Easter morning.  A few people walking along and a fisherman, but otherwise this stretch was empty!

A tree next to the beach had been cut down.  Water eroded the sand around the roots and caught my eye.

It's triplets!!

My neighbor called and said that the Osprey babies were looking over the side of the nest, so I went over to their deck to get some pics.  It turns out that there are 3 babies in the nest!  I'm thinking that these are some tired parents!  The early morning light is harsh, but you can see all three little heads.