Tag Archives: Florida

Sea Birds & Greetings

Visiting the Shore Birds

On Christmas Day






Splish, Splash I was taking a bath!

Pelican & Two Babies

Can you see that she has a baby on each side of her?

The one on the left has its back to me. The one on the right is facing out to the right.

Wood Storks

aka Greeter & Guard Stork (Photos by RSheridan)

Happy Bird Watching!

Mama Gator

Sawgrass Lake Park

“Mama Gator”

Ready for her closeup!

Her Babies

Closeup of her babies. (Photos by RSheridan)

Happy Exploring!!!

Philippe Park

Old Tampa Bay

There is a one-mile shoreline pathway where you can take in the view of Old Tampa Bay.

2525 Philippe Parkway in Safety Harbor, Florida. The park was acquired in 1948 making it the oldest park in Pinellas County.

  • Indian Mound
  • Odet Philippe’s Gravesite
  • Restrooms
  • Picnic Shelters (reservable)
  • Fishing
  • Boat Ramp (fee charged)
  • Playgrounds (2)
  • Softball Field

Count Odet Philippe

Count Odet Philippe introduced citrus as well as cigar making to Tampa Bay. The park was part of the original Philippe plantation (1842 – 160 acres) and several citrus trees still remain. His descendents include the McMullen and Booth families (for whom McMullen-Booth Road is named) who are among the county’s most well known pioneers. Count Philippe died in 1869 and was buried on his plantation, which is now within the park grounds. However, the exact location of the grave site is not known.

His Grave Marker Inscription states:

Odet Philippe

Born Lyon, France 1787
Died at this Site 1869

As the first European
settler in Pinellas County
he established St. Helena
Plantation, now Philippe Park
Philippe was the first
to cultivate grapefruit
in Florida and introduced
cigar making to Tampa
His descendants populated
this frontier. He was
said to be a doctor
and of noble birth




(Photos by RSheridan)

Here’s to Enjoying the “Green Spaces” Where You Live!

Moccasin Lake Nature Park

The Park

Located at 2750 Park Trail Lane in Clearwater, Florida.

Hours: Open Thursday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Open Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed All City Recognized Holidays.

No pets permitted inside the park with the exception of guide or service  dogs.

A 51-acre nature preserve with trails and boardwalks. Mature oaks. Ponds and creeks. Birdlife and wildlife. It is home to several injured birds of prey.

  • 1 1/4 mile of natural and boardwalk trails
  • 5-acre lake
  • 3-acre watershed restoration area
  • Picnic shelters
  • Bird walks, bird watching tours and workshops
  • Guided tours and group hikes
  • Night hikes
  • Environmental programs and classes
  • Nature interpretive center
  • Interactive education displays
  • Club meeting site for various clubs (check the park’s website for listing of clubs)
  • Fireside concert series
  • Children’s nature camps

Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center

A natural retreat in an urban environment setting. A place to explore a small piece of Florida’s natural history. Walk nature trails. Native fauna and flora as well as birdlife (egrets, ospreys, etc.) and wildlife (turtles, gators, butterflies, etc.).

Live Wildlife Exhibits

  • Aquatic wildlife (freshwater fish)
  • Birds of prey
  • Songbirds
  • Butterfly garden
  • Plants; native and poisonous plant displays
  • Reptiles and amphibians (turtles, snakes, etc.)

Bat House


Flora & Fungi

Tropical Sage

(Photos by RSheridan)

Here’s to Exploring Nature – Get Out There!!!


Honeymoon Island

The sun was setting in front of me while the moon was behind me – pretty cool!



Dinner is served . . . fish is on the menu – YUM!

(Photos By RSheridan)

Here’s To Taking A Moment To Be In The Present . . . Enjoy!

Walking On

The Wild Side

In Sawgrass Lake Park again. Can you tell I like to go here to explore and adventure.

The Wild

We encountered a gentleman on the boardwalk and he introduced us to Mama Gator. He stated she has about 24 babies. I saw one of the babies.

Mama Gator

Mama Gator

The Flora



These are Beauty Berries

The Unusual

I could not figure out what species of bird this was, so I sent a picture of it to the local Audubon Society to help me identify.

Let me introduce you to a Limpkin. Looks like a cross between a crane and a rail. However, this wading bird does not have any close relatives. I got to see not 1 but 2 Limpkins! These birds are usually solitary.

An unusual bird of southern swamps and marshes. These birds like to eat apple snails hence the shape of their long bill to extract the snails from their shells. This bird enters into Florida and Southern Georgia to satisfy its dietary requirement for apple snails.

I encourage you all to do an internet search for the “Limpkin Call”. Its screaming call is like a haunting banshee wail. This bird was too busy searching for food, so it did not make any noise when around it. In my research I found out these birds mainly call at dawn or at night. I cannot imagine traipsing through the swamp at night and hearing this bird scream – gives me goose bumps writing that!

The Fauna

The Birdlife





The Exotic

Do you see the snake?

(Photos by RSheridan)

Have You Taken A Walk On the Wild Side? Happy Exploring & Adventuring!

Venice, Florida

The “Shark’s Tooth

Capital of the World”

A city in Sarasota County. In 1927, the Florida state legislature changed the designation of Venice from a town to a city. Venice was named after Venice, Italy.

Hosts the Shark’s Tooth Festival every year to celebrate the abundance of fossilized shark’s teeth that can be found on its coastal shores.

14 miles of beaches from Casey Key to Manasota Key.

A Little History . . .

In the 1870s Richard Roberts established a homestead near Roberts Bay. In 1884, Roberts sold a portion of his holdings to Frank Higel. Higel established a citrus operation involving the production of several lines of canned citrus items. For the next 30 years the Higel family members were boat builders, fishermen, grove caretakers, and contractors.

The first railroad to Venice was built in 1911. A small fishing town and farming community through the first part of the 1920’s.

The first street in Venice opened to traffic on June 10, 1926.

Sharkey’s On The Pier

Are you sensing a theme in this area? I sure am!

Cue the Jaws Theme Song!

Caspersen Beach

Can I say “Shell Galore” while walking the beach! People were out looking to find prehistoric sharks’ teeth on this beach too!

Interesting Fact:  Ancient sharks, Carcharodon Meglodons, once were in these waters. At more than 52 feel long, each outweighing a T-Rex.

Flanked by the Gulf of Mexico and northern Lemon Bay. 177 acres of cabbage palms, sea grapes and sea oats. Over 9,000′ of gulf beach frontage with 1,100′ of boardwalk. The sand ranges from light gray to nearly black sand, especially at the water’s edge. Caused by fossilized material mixed with sand and shell.

FREE Parking. Picnic areas. Restrooms. Canopied Playground and Fitness Park. Paved and shelled walking, hiking and biking paths. Canoe and Kayak launch.

During the months of May through July there is another attraction on this beach. The sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. The nests will be marked by wooden stakes and yellow tape. Some nests may be covered by chicken wire to keep the raccoons out of the nests. Look for the turtle tracks left in the sand.


Do you see the prehistoric shark’s tooth on the sign?

Gray to Black Sand

Venice Area Audubon Rookery


Sight Seeing

(Photos by RSheridan)

Here’s to Exploring & Seeing the Sights!!!

Evening Stroll

North Redington Beach

Strolling Along . . .

Capturing Seashells

A Glob of a Jelly – Watch Out!

An Ocean Bubble

Beautiful Blues

Beach L-O-V-E

(Photos by RSheridan)

It Feels GOOD to Slow Down the Pace and Be In the Moment – Enjoy!

Fort Myers Area

Fort Myers

Fort Myers is the county seat of Lee County. The city is named after Colonel Abraham Myers.

A major tourist destination! The winter homes of Thomas Edison (“Seminole Lodge”) and Henry Ford (“The Mangoes”) are a primary tourist attraction in the region.

Fort Myers was one of the first forts built along the Caloosahatchee River as a base of operations against the Seminole Indians during the American Indian Wars. During the Seminole Wars, Fort Myers was a strategic location for its access to the Atlantic waterways.

An area rich with history too!

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach is a town located on Estero Island in Lee County.

Arrived on a Saturday afternoon for a quick beach escape before heading back home. Wanted to check this area out and want to go back to see more of what the area has to offer too.

Bury Me Brewing

A Mango Sour – Yum – Cheers!

Twins Territory – Play Ball!

(Photos by RSheridan)

A Quick Trip & Worth Coming Back to Explore Some More!

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The Refuge

Is part of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex along with the

  • Pine Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge
  • Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Drive in Sanibel, Florida

The entire complex is approx. 8,000 acres. The majority of the lands in these refuges are nesting and roosting islands. The Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. “The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States.”

“Jay Norwood Darling was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island. At Darling’s urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945.”

Wildlife and Habitat

Teeming With Life! “The refuge contains some of the most nutritionally rich habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals in an intricate food web.”

ALL Animals in the Refuge are WILD!

  • Respect the animals. Can potentially cause harm.
  • To be safe, do not interact with or feed the wildlife (avoid dangerous situations).
  • Keep your distance. If you approach and the animals change their behavior then you are too close.

  • Birds – over 245 different species of birds that call the refuge home, especially its spectacular migratory bird populations. The “Big 5”:  American White Pelican, Mangrove Cuckoo, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, and Yellow Crowned Night Heron. Wading Birds to Seabirds to Shorebirds to Raptors to Song Birds to Waterfowl to Marsh Birds
  • Mammals – Manatee to Bobcat to River Otter to Raccoon to Marsh Rabbitt to Sanibel Island Rice Rat.
  • Reptiles – Crocodilians to Lizards to Snakes to Turtles and Tortoises. Reptiles are great at camouflage and can be very sneaky too.
  • Amphibians – Frogs to Toads.
  • Fish – Seagrass beds and mangrove forests serve as shelter, nursery and feeding areas. Mullet to Red Drum (Redfish) to Sheepshead to Snook to Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout) to Tarpon.
  • Invertebrates – Arachnids to Butterflies to Crustaceans to Mollusks.
  • Endangered Species – protect endangered and threatened species. Loggerhead Sea Turtle to Smalltooth Sawfish to West Indian Manatee to Wood Stork.
  • Habitats – the refuge is located within an estuary. Freshwater Marsh to Mangrove Forests and Swamps to Open Water to Seagrass Beds to Tidal Flats and Mudflats to Tropical Hardwood Hammock.
  • Invasive and Non-Native Species – a plant or animal that is not native to an ecosystem (likely to cause harmful effects to the environment or even humans)

The Seasons

January to March

  • Adult Spoonbills leave the Refuge to head to nesting grounds in March.
  • Alligators can be seen basking in the sun on cold mornings.
  • One of the best times of the year for birding, especially migratory birds.
  • Osprey nesting peaks in March.

April to June

  • Adult Spoonbills return slowly in June.
  • Male alligators may be heard bellowing to attract a mate. Female alligators begin to lay eggs in June.
  • Manatees can be seen mating at area beaches in April and May.
  • Sea turtles nest on Sanibel beaches from May to October.
  • Wading bird nesting peaks in April.
  • Yellow Crowned Night Herons nest near the exit of Wildlife Drive from April to June.

July to September

  • Alligators present and often visible at dawn and dusk.
  • Early migrant birds arrive in August.
  • Sea turtle hatchlings start to emerge from the nests in August.

October to December

  • Annual Christmas Bird Count takes place.
  • Birding improves during December.
  • Migratory birds arrive in more numbers.
  • Shorebird migration in October.

Visitor and Education Center

Check Out the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Website!

Open Monday – Sunday. Jan. 1 – Apr. 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. May 1 – Dec. 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is FREE.

Holiday Closures:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day


  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • President’s Day

Wildlife Drive

Closed on ALL Fridays (Wildlife can have the refuge to themselves)! Open ALL Holidays unless the Holiday falls on a Friday.


  • $5 per vehicle
  • $1 per pedestrian
  • $1 per bicycle


  • January – 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • February – 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • March – 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • April – 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • May – 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • June – 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • July – 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • August – 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • September – 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • October – 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • November – 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • December – 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Drove through five miles of mangrove tree forests and tidal flats. Saw the island’s native vegetation, but the wildlife was elusive.

(Photos by RSheridan)

Here’s to Exploring the Natural (at times WILD) Side!!!

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