Cool Amenity!

A friend and I recently took a couple hours one evening to explore the new expansion of Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. Manatee County has certainly invested some time and effort into this restoration project!

In addition to the construction of ramadas, well-defined walking paths and scenic bridges, they’ve done a tremendous job reintroducing native plants to the landscape. Though young and small now, they will definitely benefit wildlife in the years to come.

What I found most impressive was the kayak setup. Not only are there several launch spots with rinse stations but the park also offers kayak storage (for a monthly fee).

What a great idea – no more loading your kayak on your vehicle and lugging it around. Instead, just pull it out of the safe, weather-protected space and plop it on the water. It’s definitely a popular feature, of the 50 slots I only counted 5 that were not in use.

How Not to Fish

While I was crossing the bridge at Sawgrass Lake Park an Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) surfaced with a sizable catch. Skilled swimmers, Snakebirds stab their prey with their sharp, pointed bill.

This one had impaled a tasty morsel (perhaps overzealously) but had a dickens of a time trying to dislodge it. After a few minutes of head shaking and flipping, the fish finally flew free and was quickly swallowed by the bird.

Frustrating few minutes for the Anhinga but it was successful in the end!

Fishing Tutorial

I spent an hour wandering around Sawgrass Lake Park earlier this week. As before, my visit did not disappoint. While I was fascinated by it, this Tricolored Heron studiously ignored me. It obviously had bigger fish to fry (as it were).

The technique: stand perfectly still, snap up the tiny tidbit, shake off excess water and vegetation, rotate the fish with a quick flip, then swallow it whole. All of this takes place within a span of mere seconds, though the bird caught several fish while I was watching I felt fortunate to catch just a few photos of it in action!

A few bonus shots just because it was such a handsome bird!

Wood Rose, Revisited

Earlier this week I shared a beautiful Wood Rose bloom with a promise to capture a photo of the reason behind its common name. Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to return to that roadside and collect some of the ornate seed pods.

Thankfully, I was able to gather a handful of the pods for it would be a shame to crush these for their seeds – they are too pretty! The seeds I will plant in my yard so that hopefully next summer I won’t have to go as far to see this unique vine. Wish me luck!

Wood Rose

This bright flower caught my eye last weekend. Since it was growing along a roadside I presumed it was one of the many invasive morning glory species.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Cutleaf Morning Glory (Merremia dissecta) is actually a native vine with useful medicinal properties. I will be heading back soon to gather some of the cool looking seed pods for my yard.

When I do, I’ll be sure to take some photos. It is also known as Wood Rose because the ornate pods look like wooden, wild roses.