Day of the Heron (oops – Anhinga) & Sheba’s Future

On edit: Reader Gene Masse has identified this bird for me. Here's his comment: "That is a Anhinga. It is in the Cormorant family type of swamp bird. They eat fish. He was fishing. Also known as a snakebird because they sometimes swim with only their head and neck above water."       I will confirm that I saw some birds swimming with just their heads above water. They looked really strange, but I had no idea that they were the same kind of bird!

On edit: Reader Gene Masse has identified this bird for me. Here’s his comment: “That is a Anhinga. It is in the Cormorant family type of swamp bird. They eat fish. He was fishing. Also known as a snakebird because they sometimes swim with only their head and neck above water.” I will confirm that I saw some birds swimming with just their heads above water. They looked really strange, but I had no idea that they were the same kind of bird!

Today was another grey, chilly day.  Not pleasant to be out in.  But since we must walk the dogs no matter what the weather, we walked down to the canal today in hopes that I would find a decent photo or two.

1I’m no good at bird identification.  I’m think this is a heron, but don’t know what kind of heron.  Anyway, this guy was a perfect model.  I suppose he was craning his neck all around looking for something to eat, but it sure looked like he was posing for me.  I took over 40 shots of him, and each one was different.  I finally picked the ones I liked best to share with you.2

The situation with Sheba is coming to a crisis.  We must keep her tied up while in campgrounds, and it is seriously depressing her.  She cries and whimpers when she sees squirrels and birds that she can’t chase.  I think the squirrels know she can’t get to them, so they scamper around just out of leash range and it drives her crazy.3

Finally this afternoon she gave up.  She just curled up in a ball, ignored everything that went on around her, and looked like the picture of depression.

Then, of course, when we do walk her, she goes ballistic.  She needs to run so badly, so she jerks and yanks us around so wildly that it is dangerous to us.  Ron has a sore shoulder, probably from being yanked so hard so often.5

So we have decided that we either must give up camping or find another home for Sheba.  Since camping is the only thing that we enjoy doing together, and since we don’t have that many more active years left, we’ve decided to try to find her a new home.7

This is not the way I wanted things to turn out.  It feels like a no-win situation.

The only positive thing that might come of it is that Sheba might find younger, more energetic owners who will run and hike with her and shower her with all the love that she deserves.

Salt Springs

At the boat launch in the tent camping area

At the boat launch in the tent camping area

It’s summer here at Salt Springs — complete with sticky humidity and biting bugs.  We’ve already gone through a half bottle of Deep Woods Off.  But we are loving it here!

In the tent camping area

In the tent camping area

Although the campground is a Forest Service campground, it’s run by concessionaires.  So it’s actually a big RV park, complete with full hookups.  But we’re paying $16 a night with our senior pass.

During the winter, you can stay up to 180 days here.  There is an unbelievable assortment of big rigs, small rigs, popups, home built campers, a teardrop, and even several tents in the RV area because they want hookups.  The sites are all different sizes — from spacious to cramped.  It looks like they built the pads around the trees, so tree placement apparently determines the size of the individual sites.  We happened to get a really big one.

Down by the canal

Down by the canal

In addition to the main campground, there is a primitive RV area with no hookups, and a primitive tent camping area. The RV park gets pretty full on the weekends, but there are a lot of open sites during the week.

It rained yesterday, and threatened to rain all of this morning.  But it cleared up early this afternoon and is beautiful now.

Ron took Sheba with him when he did laundry this morning.  So Sunny and I had a leisurely walk through the tent camping area to the canal.  The management keeps that area beautifully manicured, so it’s a

Turtle in the canal

Turtle in the canal

pleasure to linger there.  We gave the water a wide berth, though, because there are alligators there, and I’d bet some of them are probably big.  Big enough to be a danger to a small dog, anyway.

We haven’t made it to the springs yet this trip.  Dogs aren’t allowed down there so it takes some planning for us.  🙂

Alligator warning sign

Alligator warning sign

Verizon data service is spotty and sporadic here.  Sometimes I can get a good enough signal to surf a bit.  Other times I can barely send text email.  And other times, all I get is “server not found.”  But there isn’t a good enough signal for a phone call.  You might connect if you are lucky, but you will certainly drop the call.

At first, we were disappointed when we arrived, with comparisons of Ocean Pond fresh in our minds.  However, Salt Springs is wonderful in a different way.  There are a

Our Casita at Salt Springs

Our Casita at Salt Springs

lot of snowbirds who spend the winter here.  The club house has lots of activities — we got asked if we were on our way to Bingo twice.

And best of all, one of the Palatka churches is doing a Christmas cantata here Saturday night.  We’re to bring finger foods and they’ll supply the beverages.

I am REALLY looking forward to the cantata!

Campers built from cargo trailers

Campers built from cargo trailers

Long term popup camper

Long term popup camper

Van in the primitive RV camping area

Van in the primitive RV camping area

Primitive tent camping area

Primitive tent camping area

Salt Springs RV camping area

Salt Springs RV camping area

The canal area

The canal area

Teardrop camper

Teardrop camper

A woman is solo camping in this little trailer

A woman is solo camping in this little trailer

This little Scamp stayed just one night

This little Scamp stayed just one night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Shots at Walter F. George COE

Deer across canal

This evening I took my chair down to the edge of the canal to see if I could get some wildlife pictures.  I got both deer and egret photos.

I was thrilled to capture pictures of the egret catching a fish and then taking flight.  Unfortunately, the quality of the zoom photos is poor.  But it was rewarding to catch the action anyway.

Deer grazing

Earlier in the day, we walked the nature trail by the Old Mill Road campground.  I was hoping to get some really nice flower photos — or maybe find some good mushrooms.  I didn’t find anything terribly interesting there…. or maybe I wasn’t feeling very creative due to coping with Sheba’s hyper energetic puppy antics.

Our next door camping neighbor is a delightfully cheery person.  Ron said yesterday morning he boomed, “Good morning, world!”  as he headed toward his pontoon boat.  We’ve heard him singing several times.

Egret catching a fish

They caught 22 channel catfish yesterday.  Then this morning they caught 14 more before he and his wife decided that they had all the fish they cared to clean.  They offered us some, but catfish isn’t our favorite, so he had to clean all 14 of them.  🙂

Egret taking flight

The little nature trail has several interesting features, including a wildlife viewing blind and a bridge over a swampy area that also offers wildlife viewing opportunities.  We startled a deer who bolted before I could get my camera focused while crossing the bridge.

The only fungi I noticed were turkey tail, stinkhorn and another unidentified large orange mushroom.  I didn’t examine the underside, but it’s probably a polypore.  It had a side stalk similar to a beefsteak mushroom, but the orange color was wrong.

I’m sitting outside under the awning this evening listening to the night sounds and savoring the cool breeze.   Time seems to have no meaning here.  It’s peaceful and very special.

Ron and Sunny on the trail

Bench on the trail

Bridge over swampy area

There were a lot of blowdowns and downed trees on the trail. This one is well on the way of returning its nutrients to the earth.

Stinkhorns

Turkey tail fungi

Unidentified mushroom

Wildlife viewing blind on trail

My best little buddy

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