Today is Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Don't Like Matthew

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Black Skimmer

Keeping glued to the Weather Channel, we have made plans to flee the east coast of Florida if necessary. This will throw a wrench into the plans that I was looking forward to. This will be the second time this year that a hurricane has wrecked my vacation. The first came when Hurricane Hermine came into existence down in the Gulf of Mexico.

We were on the Carnival Dream cruise ship and had planned to head to Key West and then two port of calls in the Bahamas. With the bad weather starting to move north, our cruise was then sent to Cozumel Mexico and on down to Honduras. Maybe next time, we will fulfill our quest and make it to the Bahamas.

With a careful eye on the television set, we knew the approximate time of the arrival for Hurricane Matthew. Since we had about five days before we had to make an exit, it was decided that we would make the most out of our time there.

Sitting out on the balcony of our motel, the Oceanfront Inn and Suites, I was amazed that we had a pair of Ospreys that seemingly owned a part of the beach. They would fly over the breakers about fifteen feet in the air, watching for fish below. Every now and then, one would catch a fish, but most of the time they would come up empty. The Ospreys would chase some of the smaller wading birds that were feeding in the wet sand. I am not sure if they were trying to eat them or just chase them away from their territories.

Some of the smaller surf birds were Ruddy Turnstones and they were already in their winter garb. When a wave would come in they would run from it and then follow the receding wave back toward the ocean, probing the sand as they ran on spindly legs. These small birds were in profusion up and down the shore.

Another shore bird in pretty good numbers were the Black Skimmer. These graceful birds have an unusual eating habit. They have an elongated lower mandible which they run through the water while on the wing catching their meal which consist of fish, crustaceans , and mollusks. You might even see them feeding after dark. During the daylight hours they sometimes can be found loafing around on the beach.

There were plans to visit Lyonia Preserve in Volusa County where you can find the Florida Scrub Jay. It is very similar to our Bluejay, but without a crest. The first time I laid eyes on them there, it landed on my poor old sunburned head. They don't seem to fear humans.

Another day trip that we didn't get to take, was to Blue Springs State Park located on the St. Johns River near Orange City, Florida. During the colder months, Manatees congregate in the large spring that averages 73 degrees. It has been several years since I have been here.

Hurricane Matthew had other ideas and we left the Daytona Beach area and headed toward Panama City Beach, hoping for a little more time in the sun. The weather there was much better than what was about to happen back toward the east coast. We had to cut our vacation short just because of one lousy storm called Matthew.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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