Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mayaka River State Park

My gate is open so game on!!!!!!

8 Days Until Tom Comes Home!!!!

Today we headed to the Mayakka River State Park.  I researched it and they have an air boat ride and a tram tour.  Sounds like my kind of outing.  We got there and lined up the outings and had some time to take a walk and looked at nature stuff.   
This is the Upper Mayakka LakeDuring the early 20th century Bertha Palmer was the largest landholder in the region and one of the greatest developers and promoters of Florida, especially of Sarasota, where she established a resort, her winter retreat, and her extensive farms and ranches that revolutionized the two industries in the state.  She owned thousands of acres and some was donated to the state for this park.
Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks. The "Florida's Wild an Scenic Mayakka River" flows through 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands.
On my walk I came upon this snake in the water.   The Florida Banded Water Snake is a stout snake with black, brown, or red bands across the body. The narrower bands are pale tan, gray, or reddish. sometimes there is a black stripe down the back. The markings darken with age and banding becomes less prominent. The underside is yellow with red or black markings. Juveniles have red or black cross bands on light background.  When threatened, the Florida Banded Water Snake defends itself by biting and smearing its tormentor with a foul smelling musk. Active mainly at night, but may be found during the day sunning on banks or on vegetation hanging over the water. Feeds on live or dead fishes, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.
Tiny fish in the lake.
We hopped aboard one of the world's largest and oldest air boats and went around the lake looking for wildlife and we were not disappointed.  The air boat is powered by a 1974 Cadillac V8 engine.  Unlike other air boat rides we have been on this one was slow and smooth.

I love this pic.  The Great Blue Heron standing on a bench at the edge of the lake.
Egret and Anhinga both fishing.  There could be a very interesting caption for this pic.
Fishing and now dinner time.  He has to position the fish so it is going down the hatch head first.  This is all done with no hands and in the air.
Gone ... and yummy!
One of many alligators that we spotted.
Egret and friends
When I got the camera home and looked at the pix I did not know I had gotten this pic.  I was taking the pic for the birds and to the right on the other side of the grassy peninsula is an alligator's head!

Today was quite breezy and alligators do not like wind.  It has something to do with their nose and ear flaps in the wind and how it is annoying for them.  So our guide was not sure we would see many of them.  We saw quite a few.  Also he told us that alligators are night hunters and feeders and if we do see them they are sleeping on the shore line. 

 So this rare thing happened and we were able to watch.  An alligator caught and ate a fish in the day time.  The next three pix are of that event.  Our guide was thrilled to see this himself.  He has been doing this job for many years and he has never seen an alligator eat.

An osprey was out looking for a meal while we were out on the lake.  He never took a dive for a fish.  That would have been a wonderful pic.  Our guide said that once they catch it they shift it so that the fish is facing forward.  He says he does this for two reasons one it has less wind resistance and the second reason is that the fish has a better view while he is flying along. 

What a wonderful bird.

Thought this was a great pic too.  I do not remember what kind of bird this is. 

This area was Florida's prairie.  Most of it is gone now.  They believe this is because man keeps putting the lightning fires out and this gives the under brush and trees a chance to take over.  Florida is know as the lightning capital of the country.  This gives you an idea of how many opportunities this area could have to clear things out and make prairie again.
This is a mother alligator.  We know this because you can see some of her babies on her back.  This is quite rare because they mate in Spring and gives birth in Summer, not Winter.   Look close to see them.  Ok look at the next pic and then see if you can find them then come back to this pic and find them.

 In summer, the female builds a nest of vegetation where the decomposition of the vegetation provides the heat needed to incubate the eggs.  The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature of the nest. and is fixed within 7 to 21 days of the start of incubation. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F or lower produce a clutch of females; those of 93 °F  or higher produce entirely males. Nests constructed on leaves are hotter than those constructed on wet marsh and, thus, the former tend to produce males and the latter, females. The natural sex ratio at hatching is five females to one male. Females hatched from eggs incubated at 86 °F weigh significantly more than males hatched from eggs incubated at 93 °F.

I am sorry for the quality of the pic, but I enlarged it so much for you to see the little ones.  There are two up there now.

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