Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan. 8. Canoeing with a ranger

We got up earlier than I wanted to and were off to Nine Mile Pond, to adventure out into the swamps with a small group of beginning canoeists, and a ranger, Nicole, who was to guide us through mangroves, lakes and narrow paths. There were 6 canoes, and the paths through the mangroves were sometimes so narrow you lost sight of the person in front of you, especially if you're steering skills were in need of improvement. Everyone's needed work, and Pam and I were bringing up the rear. The reason we were in the rear was because the ranger asked us to be there since we had experience canoeing.  "No canoe left behind!" My teacher friends will understand that pun! We had two French Canadians in front of us who hit anything there was to hit and fought with each other in French.  What fun! By the time we got through, all the wildlife was gone, and we missed a lot of the commentary. On the second half of the trip, we moved to the front and saw our first Florida gar, about 18 inches long. We stopped in a small pond, and as the ranger was speaking, alligators started to bellow. A growling kind of sound that alligators make to mark their territory from other males, it became rather spooky, because for the first time, we realized we were outnumbered by them, and they were better swimmers. As we opened up into the last pond on the way back, we were told to look out for 'Crockzilla', a thirteen foot crocodile that was frequently spotted in the lake. Well, we spotted him in the water near shore. What the ranger or us did not expect, however, was for him to start swimming towards us, as if to come and visit, before he dove under water, and the ranger told us she thought it would be best for us to hustle to our takeout area, because we didn't really know where he was gonna pop up to say hello.
Another notable animal at the pond were the vultures. As it turns out, they land on cars and Rv's, and use their beaks to rip anything rubber off of them. They think the vultures do this to practice their ripping techniques for tearing the innards out of dead animals. On this occasion, they landed on a motor home, and began attacking it. We were told that if we move our cars, out onto the main road, they were less likely to behave like this. We did, and when we were on our canoe trip, no damage was done.
Another encounter with nature occurred as I was unloading our stuff from the canoe. I brought a baggie of trail mix along, and when I turned away, a crow, or big black bird of some type, swooped down and stole it. He flew about 50 feet and landed, so I chased him. He took off for another 50 ft before landing again. The baggie must have been too heavy because he left it behind this time, and I got my trail mix back. That'll teach him to mess with me!
We learned a lot about alligators, crocodiles, pythons, and vultures. Did you know that a vulture's first line of defense when being threatened is to projectile vomit onto its preditor. I'm glad I didn't find that out through experience!
Later in the day we took a walk around the Eco pond, and saw a nesting osprey, a totally pink bird, which we thought it was a flamingo, and some Alabama football fans that were down after the game. As it turned out, there are very few flamingo sightings. It was a roseate spoonbill, which are a little more common, but the Alabama fans were the real deal!

Bringing up the rear!


One of the open areas that we paddled.

Water markers - you just follow the numbers to travel the trail.  This showed the short cut.

Looking down into the water

Driving back to campsite we saw this guy just sunning himself alongside the road!


You thought we were kidding about the vultures??!!  

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