The next chapter of this adventure…

Swallow tailed Kite

baby gator

snake

Hawk

Hawk

Hawk

For the past two months, I have been TRYING to get a photo of the Swallow-tailed Kite… unsuccessfully. I have spotted this elusive bird over the landscapes of Sanibel a lot lately since this is their time of year to nest in SW Florida. I can’t tell you how many times I have jumped out of my car and gone into the woods after a photo, and the only one I got is a bit blurry. (See below.) My friend, Dianna, spotted me in her neighborhood chasing after this bird a couple of weeks ago and informed me that since then she has seen the kite all of the time. So when I told her that the exciting adventure that is MY LIFE is moving my family from Sanibel Island to Marco Island this week, she invited me over to go on one last Swallow-tailed Kite seeking adventure.

I did not get a photo of the bird. We saw it twice, but I am not that skilled of a photographer. I am still learning.

So, on my last day on this island, before I move to island number four, I will share with you my one blurry Swallow-tailed Kite photo and a few of the photos I took on my hike with Dianna. I have seen the kite soaring over the skies of Naples near my soon-to-be home on Marco Island, so I am sure I will continue to seek this photo. I am also sure that since I am moving only an hour away, I will return to visit my beloved Sanibel.

It has been an amazing year on Sanibel Island. I joked around from the first week here that I would retire on this island. Who knows, maybe retirement will bring my family and I back some day. In the mean time, farewell Sanibel. Marco Island is calling my name, and I can’t wait to begin sharing photos from the next chapter of this adventure. 🙂

Once upon a time I was ‘that girl’…

snake

Once upon a time I was ‘that girl’… You know the one.  The one who would scream her head off if she saw a snake.  I would even hide behind my hands if I saw one on TV.  Yeah, you know the type of girl I’m talking about.  I revealed a couple of up close snake ‘incidents’ on my former blog site in a post called Snakes on the Brain, and I encourage you to discover what happened on two separate occasions when snakes got INSIDE of my living room.  The memory of Charles pumping his shotgun in response to my frantic screaming still makes me chuckle.  It was, after all, not an incident requiring the use of guns, but like I said, I was that girl, and honey, let me tell you I’ve got a good scream on me.

Now before I get Snake Lovers Unite on me about how this snake I photographed is only a Black Racer and not in any way, shape, or form a threat to me, let me say…well, I know that.  I also know racers are ‘good snakes’ and how the whole story goes about snakes being more afraid of people, ya da ya da ya da, and I AM thankful this former ‘that girl’ hasn’t come across a venomous snake in Florida…yet.  But come on, people, give a girl some credit!  When I saw this snake in the grass I didn’t run, scream, wince, freeze in paralytic fear, or pack my suitcase and head north.  What did this former ‘that girl’ do?  Well, I took photographs of course, and the snake wasn’t the only critter frolicking beside the water in paradise on a lazy Saturday afternoon…Hope you enjoy the photos! 🙂

Love always, from a former ‘that girl,’

Sarah 😉

snakesnakesnakesnakealligatorgatorpelican

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant and ducks

Great Blue Heron fishing

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron

I enjoyed watching this Great Blue Heron fish today.  Of course, I wasn’t alone… 😉

Gator

Conspiracy Theories

It is a peaceful morning in my cage. (One year living in a wildlife refuge, and I assure you this is an appropriate term for my ‘house.’) I am putting laundry away and mentally writing a future, best-selling novel. (Really cracking myself up now.) I walk past the bedroom window, and a funny-looking bird catches my eye. It has a spiky white hairdo and looks like a heron of some sort. I’m no expert, but I’m sure I haven’t photographed that particular bird before, so I abandon the safety of my cage. Zippy will probably miss me, but he’ll just have to hold down the fort without me. Oh, where have my manners gone? Meet Zippy…

Scorpion

Anyhow, once outside, I approach the pond’s edge to get that funny bird photo. As I raise my camera, the little critter flies away. No sooner have I written the bird off as skittish, when I notice the cute little alligator in front of me. (That’s what we call the little ones. Part of the conditioning you experience after living here for one year.)

little gator

I glance to my left and see some bigger gators near the water’s edge. The egret beside them concentrates on it’s breakfast catch. By all appearances, it is a lazy morning in paradise…

Gators & Egret

Still pining for that funny bird pic, I scan the pond. Movement catches my attention to my left again, and I take note of one of the bigger gators swimming closer to me. Now, I’m still kind of new around here, but these Floridians insist the gators aren’t interested in me, not to pay them any attention. Even my husband assures me that people are more dangerous to people than gators are to people. It all makes sense…I suppose…but I am a writer with a very active imagination. Fiction stories, fantasies, conspiracy theories, my mind is a mumble jumble of a mess more often than not…As the gator nears, I keep my feet planted firmly, but my imagination runs wild…Is he or she simply taking a closer look at a nonnative species to this island…humans? Kind of like when I photograph the animals? The gator is just studying me? But, wait a second, is that blood lust in his eyes?

Alligator

I know the locals say gators don’t like humans for food, but are they certain? I don’t think gators can be vegetarians… Speaking of vegetarians, I am practically a vegetarian…sure, I occasionally eat fish, but I can’t possibly look like an appetizing entrée to this gator can I? He would have to be a very health conscious gator. Of course, now that I think about it, I could be a very appealing treat to someone who is into healthy eating. If you are what you eat, I’m a vegetable! What if this gator is into healthy eating? I decide to walk back inside my cage. (Fine, it is more of a jog slash run.) Once inside, I study the gator as he studies me. He comes right up to the bank…

Gator at edge of pond

He raises his head and tail at the same time, and I try to get a good photo from my window. This is only the second time I have seen one do this…

Gator

He hits the water with his tail and head, causing ripples across the pond. And he sits there and stares…

gator

I implore my husband to look out of the window. “Do you see this? Is he waiting on us to send the weakest member of the tribe out for sacrifice?” I ask him.

My husband shakes his head and ignores me, muttering something I can’t understand, though I catch the word crazy quite clearly.

I watch with a combination of fear and curiosity as the gator stares at something… I recall reading about alligators ‘head slapping’ during courtship. Maybe the gator’s odd behavior is because of mating season. I have nothing to fear. If I’m to trust the internet, Floridians, and my husband, it would safe for me to go back out and look for that dang bird. Where did that bird go anyway? I’ve wasted a good half hour of writing time because of it! Out of nowhere, I spot the little devil! The gator sees him too and turns just as the bird dashes past him…That bird really is skittish! My photo doesn’t even show his funny hairdo. I’ll have to get closer! But what about the gator sitting there…What does he want?

gator and bird

Now, this could be that overactive imagination of mine, but suddenly it occurs to me…Maybe, this is all a ploy to get the healthy vegetable eating lady out of her cage…Sure, there is the mystery of mating season to consider. What species doesn’t act ridiculous when looking for a mate? But what about my very clever theories? I mean, what happened to the other two gators who were out there when the big one came closer to me? Are they waiting to ambush me when I go out after the bird photo again? But what is it about that silly bird? Do my internet friends really care about seeing a bird with a funny hairdo?!?

It’s official. I’m really losing my grip on sanity. My husband is right. (Take note, Charles…I said you are right!) 😉

I decide to walk away from the window. I will not go back out there -into the wild- today. Because whether anyone paying attention will agree with me or not…I am on to something here, people…The animals out there are co-conspirators. That funny-looking bird and the gators are in this together. 😉

I love hawks.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I took at least a dozen photos of wildlife this morning, most of them behind my house. There were three gators cruising the pond, that I could see, and an assortment of birds. While I got some good photos of those big, bad gators, this was my favorite photo of today. I’m not sure what it is about hawks that I love. It could be the simple fact that I don’t fear for my life when I photograph them! Hope you enjoy the hawk. I’ll share the gator photos very soon…I promise. 🙂

Guard on, Guardian…

Osprey

Osprey

The Osprey are such amazing creatures.  I see a dozen a day and never bore from watching them.  I jokingly call them the guardians of Sanibel Island because there are so many of them, and they are always watching.  I’m sure they are watching for their next opportunity to snag a fish from the water, which is truly a remarkable and exciting event, if you ask me.  But sometimes, I like to just observe them as they perch on a tree… 

This one looked like the guardian of something.  Guardians guard, watch over, or protect.  Maybe the Osprey here are just trying to protect their place of refuge.  Maybe, they want to remind the humans invading their refuge that this is their land.  If that is the case, I don’t need the reminder.  In the past week, I’ve seen a surplus of gators, scorpions, and snakes.  I know that this island belongs to the animals… 

I might not understand the Osprey here at all, but I do offer up my humble thanks to this beauty that posed for my camera.  Guard on, Guardian… You sure are a magnificent sight.  🙂

My long-lost evil twin…

Bald Eagle

I’m not much of a rule breaker. I had an evil twin in my youth who skipped school from time to time, may have broken curfew on occasion, and who might have mastered the art of forging her parents’ signatures, but that twin is long gone. These days, thank goodness, I only have the one personality to deal with, and this Sarah is such a well-behaved, conformed member of society.

(Excuse me while I pause to take this phone call from my mother.)

Anyhow, as a rule abider, I try never to cross lines, go over the speed limit, or park illegally. Mom and Dad are so proud. Of course, I am human, and some days are more difficult than others…

For example, when I saw this eagle the other day, I spent four minutes trying to find a parking spot but couldn’t find even one. The only chance of parking would be by either parking illegally on the side of the road or by parking in the private lot of a hotel. As I drove up and down the road, I sighed in frustration. Why couldn’t I have been on my bike today? Why is there never any place to park on this island? Why do the police here seem to focus on traffic violations and not the bikers who cross the road wherever they like?

Just as my shoulders slumped in defeat and I accepted that I would not be getting a photo of the bald eagle, that evil twin mysteriously resurfaced and whispered in my ear…

“Park illegally, Sarah. It’s a Bald Eagle.”

“But I can’t park illegally. I am conformed!” I reminded her.

“But how many times have you seen a Bald Eagle up close?” she countered.

I thought about it. Maybe, she’s right. How rare of an opportunity is this?

“You’re wasting time, Sarah. The eagle could fly away at any second,” she coaxed.

Man, for someone who has kept quiet for so long, she sure is convincing…

“It’s not as if your mom and dad are going to ground you…You’re already thirty-”

“Okay, zip it, sister! I know how old I am! I give!”

I couldn’t take it any longer. I turned the car around and searched for the perfect illegal parking spot. Conformed rule breaker aside, I needed that eagle photo! My evil twin cheered me on, “That’s the spirit!” Thirty seconds later, I found the one…

My car successfully parked in an empty condo parking space, I told myself I was just borrowing the spot and made a mad dash for that tree with the eagle. It’s not the best photo in the world, but I sure won’t forget taking it any time soon.

If any of the rule checker uppers are paying attention, I would like to point out that I took that photo and was back in my car and on the road within three minutes…

Okay, maybe it was five. 😉

While it was kind of fun to see my long-lost evil twin again, if only for a moment, I sure hope she goes back to her dormant state. After all, I have to be a good example for my children now and who knows what kind of road to destruction I could be on, borrowing parking spots and all…Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not much of a rule breaker. Well, not much anyway. 😉