A Hike, the Beach and a Birthday

A DNR officer told us about a great nature trail at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park that was also part of Florida’s birding trail. He said Tucker could even hike with us. So bright & early we grabbed our water & backpack & off we went.

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The inlet

The inlet

The trail head began at a bay-side picnic area with a little inlet that kayakers & canoeists put in to explore St. Joseph’s Bay & Nature Preserve. We walked around the inlet to watch the fish feeding & noticed the earth undulating at the waters edge. Upon closer examination we realized it wasn’t the ground moving, it was a gazillion Shore crabs moving in unison. If we approached, they scuttled into the mud. When we stepped back, they’d pop out & begin scurrying again. It was amusing to watch.

Notice the tiny black bumps? Thousands of these were moving along the shore.

Notice the tiny black bumps? Thousands of these were moving along the shore.

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We also spotted this lone Horseshoe crab. I was surprised by its color & have no idea why he was yellow. Anyone out there know?

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The trail immediately took us through a marshy area where we spied 4 Great Egrets wading. They tolerated my photographing them for only a moment then became annoyed with me encroaching on their turf & flew away together. Later when I downloaded my photo card I was pleased to see how well I’d captured the tallest of the 4 & his reflection in the still water.

Great Egret

Great Egret

The clearly marked path took us among palms, pines, live oak & myrtle. We walked across ocean dunes, along the bay & through brush. We saw an abundance of plant life.

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Notice the exposed roots? The roots furnished tannic acid that the early settlers used for tanning leather.

Notice the exposed roots? The roots furnished tannic acid that the early settlers used for tanning leather.

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At one point, we stopped to exam the exposed roots of the Saw Palmetto as it “snaked” across the sand. Snaked being the keyword here. I looked down at my feet just in time to see a green & black garter snake slithered across my shoe. It startled me so bad, I let out a load yelp & started high stepping myself hastily away from there. Wildlife count thus far at 3. One deer, one endangered beach mouse & one snake. I could have done without the snake sighting.

Those aren't birds in that pine, it's pine cones.

Those aren’t birds in that pine, it’s pine cones.

This is Yaupon, a true holly. It's used for Christmas decorations.

This is Yaupon, a true holly. It’s used for Christmas decorations.

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After our hike we made our way back to the boat launch & Pelican Row. The usual crowd was already there, the Double-Crested Cormorants, the Great Blue Heron, the Brown Pelicans & several gulls.

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Then I spotted these 2 new fellows, I believe they are Terns.

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We opted for a little down time after this & since it was a warm sunny day it was a perfect day to visit the beach. When we arrived, the beach was crowded. Can you believe we had to share this beautiful stretch of shoreline with 2 other couples? We set up our loungers, Don started shelling & I plopped down & quickly fell sound asleep to the sound of the surf. I awoke about an hour later to find that I was the lone soul still here. The other couples were gone & Don was nowhere in sight. Mmm this is nice. I dug my Kindle out of the beach bag along with my camera & overtly took pictures of the shorebirds while I also read.

A sandpiper I think.

A sandpiper I think.

Sanderling

Sanderling

I think this character was getting wise to me. I caught him sneaking up on me but when I turned my head toward him, he’d quickly look away.

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Eventually Don came strolling up the beach. He’d been shelling far down the coastline & showed me his treasures. He was very proud of the Scallop Shell he brought back. It was unchipped & almost as big as my hand.

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We’d been here for a few hours & needed to get back to grill dinner while it was still light enough to see. It sure is dark at night without any streetlights or lights from nearby campers. It’s amazing how many stars we can see in the pitch blackness.

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Today is Don’s 59th birthday. He’d already received his present from me when were in Indiana for Thanksgiving. A new guitar. I did offer to take him out to dinner to a restaurant of his choice but he chose to grill steaks instead. So steaks, shrimp cocktail & baked sweet potatoes it is. And Key Lime pie for dessert, his choice. He did hear from all 3 daughters today, even our 20 month old granddaughter babbled at him, hi & bye-bye. He declared it to be a perfect day.

Happy Birthday sweetheart

Happy Birthday sweetheart

THE END

THE END

Here’s lookin’ at you kid…………………….

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Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “A Hike, the Beach and a Birthday

  1. That photo of the Great Egret is a great shot. Looking lovely in FL 🙂

  2. What a wonderful day Gayle…and happy belated birthday to Don! Your pictures sure do capture how wonderful it is to be in Florida. What an awesome picture of the Great Egret…such a magnificent bird. We love to go shelling too, but this area just doesn’t have very many.

  3. Anonymous

    Beautiful photos!!

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