Sunday, December 16, 2007

It Was a St. Mark's Day

"It's a St. Mark's day," is what we say at our house when it is really clear and cold and windy. B had already scheduled a hike for his scouts at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for this afternoon and it really was a St. Mark's day. After last night's storms blew threw, the wind has not stopped; the temperatures stayed in the mid to lower 50's and with the wild,wet wind, it was cold out but absolutely clear.

After a stop at the visitor's center to check out the wildlife viewing log, the guys began their hike around the East River pool--- about a 3 mile hike. I took the truck to the other end of the hike and began hiking toward them. The solitude was nice. The tracks down the trail were all fresh since last night's rain. The guys saw 13 deer. Walking into the wind, they got pretty close to the deer before they were noticed. The guys stood and stared and the deer stood and stared for minutes. We saw a few gators, not just sunning, but one was actively feeding. The tide was WAY out and had taken the East River with it. Guess the wind played a big part in that, along with the prolonged drought. I took pictures because there was land that we had never seen exposed before.



The channel for the river was so narrow, that a little rapid had been formed over a rock.



The spillway from the pool to the East River was dry. The pool is kept to provide habitat for migratory birds and is regulated by dikes and dams.


The "floating" dock at the boat ramp was solidly in the mud.


The bay was covered in whitecaps. The wind at the lighthouse itself was just nuts but down on the little beach there, the marsh and the scrub protected us from the northwest wind.



In that scrub was a little plant that was all decked out for Christmas. The leaves look like rosemary, but a little more succulent. The fruit, as you can see, looks like little peppers.


There were large rafts of ducks in the bay and we saw several different species of birds during our afternoon, including:

bald eagles, northern harrier, wood storks, glossy ibises and white ibises, great blue herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, black ducks, sora, blue-gray gnatcatcher,  northern shovelers, red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, and some unidentified warblers. In a small flock of grackles, there was one that was smaller and partially albino. It was mostly white but had some patches of dark feathers. Of course, it was too shy to have its picture made.

We saw not a single mosquito or no-see-um! Guess they all blew out in the bay.

Cold, clear, windy: it was a St. Mark's day.

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