Flower pics and Sandhill Cranes

I’m finally back and I’m glad you’ve stopped back by, too!

I’m going to start this post with a visit to northern Florida last November. I didn’t get to post the videos of the Sandhill Cranes. They’re such nifty birds, although the locals might complain about them tearing up their yards as they look for food. It was fun to watch a couple sing and dance together. (It is said that the female makes two calls for every one the male makes… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that! Ha!)

(You can click on the white arrow in the middle of the pictures to go to the videos. Turn up the volume for this first one.)

I guess, after a while, they must get sore throats and just dance…

Zooming ahead 3 and a half months later, we see the results of their fooling around…

It’s so fun to see wildlife wandering the streets of quiet neighborhoods! If you stand still and don’t bother them, they might even get within a feet of you… but remember they are WILDlife!! I love that their red faces look like hearts when you look at them straight on…

Next are some of the many nifty plants at my aunt’s house. First up is the Turk’s Cap Cactus aka Melon Cactus. It gets loads of those nifty pink fruits (right now there’s only one on the left side).

Atop the brown woolly ‘cap’ the flowers burst forth swathed in white wool…

The Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) is a member of the Amaryllis family…

And with a great sense of humor, her ‘Shrek’s Ears’ (Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’) – a type of jade plant – are planted next to ‘Donkey’s Tail’ (aka burro’s tail – Sedum morganianum)! lol!

Jatropha (aka nettlespurge or physic nut) blooms…

It’s amazing how a heavy dew changes everything… even some ‘weeds’ in the yard…

My favorite is this dew drop laden Periwinkle…

For those of you who are getting another round of cold weather, hopefully this will tide you over until your spring flowers start blooming like crazy real soon.

Thanks for stopping by today to enjoy these lovely creations with me!

~D.Ann

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A Quick Trip to Sanibel Island, Florida

Hello everyone! Last week we had a wonderful surprise… some friends who have a timeshare over at Sanibel Island, FL, had their plans change at the last minute and, rather than let it sit empty the rest of the week, offered to let us to stay there a couple of days. Sanibel is one of our favorite spots to relax! So, despite our current health issues, we headed over for a mini vacation. Since many of you are stuck in the cold and snow, I thought you might want to turn up the heat, fix yourselves a warm cuppa and enjoy a brief break in the warm sun for a change. Here we go….

One would think being on the west coast of Florida means sunsets on the water, but we were on the south side of the island and actually had gorgeous SUNRISES.

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In the distance we can see Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Springs and, maybe a bit of Naples.

It’s fun to watch the skillful cast net fishermen. (If you want to watch, press the play button (the white arrow).):

To see the sunset, we have to go to some of the northern beaches, like here at Blind Pass Beach, which is just before crossing over to Captiva:

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If you watch carefully, you can often see dolphins playing in the gulf waters. Here’s a very short video. Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow).

(Hint: look in the distance toward the left) To my cat loving friends: There are lots of cat’s paw shells on Sanibel and I usually find the most PAIRS (they’re bivalves) here at Blind Pass. Just sayin’. >^.^<

There’s plenty to do on the island. #1 for me is shelling. It’s addictive and no matter how many shells one has, there’s always one more pretty one that HAS to go home.

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Here are some of the shells you might find. And, yes, one of the rangers at the NWR said there ARE seahorses in the water.

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Of course you have to watch out for the live ones… it’s illegal to take them home!

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This guy looked like he was hoarding his own stash of shells, so I left him alone.

Tip: try finding a single tide day where low tide is just before dawn. The tide is stronger and brings in more shells and if you can get out just before dawn, you’ll be treated to nice shells AND a pretty sunrise.

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You can also do the regular things, like sit in the sun – or shade – and read…

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… or make sand castles or something out of the ordinary like an iguana…

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… or a seahorse.

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Another fun thing to do is drive through the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge – I recommend doing this at low tide as all kinds of birds tend to come in then to feed. As of this writing, the fee is $5 per car and you can drive through as many times as you wish. (If you have the lifetime Senior Pass to the National Parks, you get in free.)

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Here’s a short video of the pelicans coming in… Press the ‘play’ button (the white arrow):

There are white pelicans, spoonbills, sandpipers, egrets, ibis and others. The ranger is talking about the anhinga (commonly known as snake birds) that are often see with their wings spread out. Be sure and look up often as you drive through the park and the island… there are numerous osprey nests and there is even a bald eagle in the area.

Near sunset in the park, you can see flocks and flocks of birds coming in to roost. Watch for the mullets who seem to be jumping for joy! lol!

At the visitors center, they have something fun for the artsy-craftsy folk (Well, I THINK it’s for US, tho there were a lot of KIDS there. hahaha). They have a table with raised etchings of various forms of wildlife and plants in the area and a pile of crayons and blank paper so you can make rubbings. I put several together on a page….

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I may have to try that with some of my embossing folders! : )

As you drive through the park, be sure to stop at the mangrove overlook. As you walk through you will see what look like brown ‘knots’ on the mangrove trees. Look closer!

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They’re crawling with crabs! You may also see what look like strings of pearls – those are actually spider egg sacks. The guide said each one may have some 50,000 inside. Yikes! I think they’re basilica orb weavers. When you get out to the water be sure to look down… you may spot some of those seahorses!

Traveler’s tip: be sure to spray yourself with insect repellent before getting out of your car in the park or going to the beach to protect yourself from no-see-ums… those tiny biting midges or sand fleas are so small and fast you won’t know they’re biting until it’s too late.

Ok, lets leave the creepy critters behind and take a look at some of the pretty and unusual plants on the island:

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This one’s called a Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa).

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Well, it’s about time for me to cast off. (See what I did there?!) Wink-wink!

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I hope you enjoyed your little trip to Sanibel Island! I’ll be back soon with some pictures from the Naples Botanical Garden to help you hold on until your spring flowers arrive!

Thanks for stopping by!

~D.Ann

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A Visit to McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida

It’s been a while since I’ve taken you on a garden tour. A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely stroll through the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida and I thought those of you stuck with gray skies and snow might enjoy some flowers to lift your spirits.

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It’s a beautiful park with Monet-esque scenery. There are lots of canals with oodles of water lilies, including the lotus flowers and Victoria Regis Waterlilies. Here are just a few:

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They often have art exhibits scattered throughout the grounds. Right now, they’re exhibiting Nature Connects, Art with Lego Bricks by sculpture artist Sean Kenney. Here are a couple of my favs:

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This one took 60,549 Lego bricks to build. Fun Fact: A Monarch butterfly can travel some 265 miles per day!

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This one took 31,565 Lego pieces to build and measures 64″x32″x77″.

Of course, there are tons of other plants and flowers at the garden. One of my favorites is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree…

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Here are some more beautiful flowers at the garden:

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I always find it amazing when you look closely at flowers and often find little flowers withing the flower! I hope you enjoyed your tour!!

Traveler’s tip: If you like visiting botanical gardens and know you will visit more than two a year, you might want to check out becoming a member of the American Horticultural Society as your membership not only benefits them, but they have a reciprocal program that gets you into many gardens across the US free of charge. A win-win… just sayin’. : )

Sending you all plenty of sunshine and warm wishes for a lovely day!

~D.Ann

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Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia

Back again! Figure I’d take advantage now that I’m on a roll. : )

Our next stop was Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia.

20150623_181938aWYou can hike out to the marshy deltas of one of the rivers that leads on out to the Atlantic.

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There are gazillions of crabs out here… dozens per square yard…

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and yes, some of them DO climb up trees…

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You can see one climbing on up this tree in this video: