Friday, March 15, 2013

Amazing Myakka River State Park

Sarasota, FL        High:  66       Low:   44

Sparky played five games of pickleball this morning...You play till one side scores 11 points, so it's not a long game, especially if you're a relative "newbie" like Sparky is, and you are the weakest link in the foursome in one of the games. Sparky played with three other players who were top notch. In this particular game, Sparky singlehandedly contributed to making every error that cost our side the game. The other team won 11 to ZIP. Sparky almost went home, then thought, nope, I'm gonna ride out the next game and see how I do with the next partner, and things went a whole lot better.  The level of play in the mornings during the week is a notch higher than the women's social pickleball. Sparky usually plays. Sparky gets intimidated easily by better players, and then gets mad at herself for missing shots she could have gotten. But, your game gets sharpened when you play with better players, so Sparky will keep showing up a couple mornings a week the remainder of our time here, and hopefully, will get better!
Mr. Gator, at Myakka River State Park, nice and close by
This afternoon, we went to Myakka River State Park, for our third time there...Myakka River State Park is a GREAT place to see alligators. We've seen them every time we've been. The first place you see them after entering the park and paying your 6.00 out of state fee, is at the bridge, where everybody stops to look to see if they are there. Today, there was only one...Every time we see one, we think of the Gator Boys TV show, on the Discovery Channel. They go around grabbing and capturing alligators out of people's yards and ponds and take them back to a preserve somewhere or some kind of alligator rescue place. They make it look so easy.....Back to Myakka.....
Very shortly after getting to the little bridge, he disappeared under water and decided to make himself scarce, only emerging once in awhile to see if we were still there.
It's fun to watch the interactions of the birds and the fishermen. We watched a great white heron try to land near a great blue heron, only to get chased off by him. The great blue herons were out in force today, waiting for the fishermen to catch something in hopes they might find something to eat, too!
We saw osprey soaring overhead, looking for fish....
Sparky loves to try and capture the beauty of their flight....She likes the way the sunlight was filtering through the tail feathers on this one.....
On our visit this time, we went deeper into the park...We stopped at the bird observation deck, and saw one solitary spoonbill WA-A-Y out in the distance, and not much else. There was a very stiff breeze, so the birds were laying low. Sparky saw this cute little girl all dressed and covered up like a little swami on our way out of the observation deck. She had her eye on Sparky and as we were walking back to our car, she waved, so of course, Sparky had to take her photo!  Nice to see a little one protected from the hot Florida sun.

On we went to where the "Gator Gal" tours are held along with the tram tours. The Gator Gal tour boat tours are 12.00 for adults..We didn't do that today, but understand it's a great tour.
We talked to one of the tour ladies and she told us to check out the fishing pier/deck and "dock", a place we hadn't seen in the park. It's right behind the campground store, down a narrow path. WOW! Was this a happenin' place for birds and gators! Lots of them!
Sparky asked the tour lady (Terri? I think her name was) if the vultures were still a problem at the park, and here's the story:
"The vultures have been a problem ever since the park opened. They congregate at night across the canal (where the Gator Gal tours start) and usually over a hundred vultures roost there during the night. In the early morning hours, they fly over to the parking lot, some land on the cars and dry their feathers. Then they get a little bored and start pecking at whatever is available, like people's windshield wipers, moldings, and rubber bumpers. If you are a fisherman and you are there early in the morning, then you go and leave your car for the day, that's the only time they really are a problem. One guy, after vultures ate his windshield wipers, made an owl out of styrofoam. Vultures don't like owls. He came back at the end of the day, and HAWKS had pecked his owl to smithereens. So he made ANOTHER owl out of styrofoam, put a wire cage around it and mounted it to the top of his truck. Problem solved. The vultures don't bother his car any more, and the hawks don't bother his owl. "

So, yes, in a manner of speaking, vultures CAN be a problem, but mainly in the very early morning hours. The signs are all over the park, because two people sued the state of Florida for vulture damage so out came the signs. We did see the vultures near the fishing pier....
At the fishing pier there is a cool educational exhibit where you can hear what sounds the alligators make and take a little quiz. Did you know that frogs are predators of baby alligators?

It was a beautiful day in the low seventies, with quite a breeze blowing...There were almost whitecaps on the very low level Myakka River. We really enjoyed seeing the gators and all the birds today...Hope to go again before we leave.....
Air plants or epiphytes at Myakka River State Park
Until next time.......


  1. Great vulture story! They sure are whacky birds. We'll have to be sure to check out this park next time we're in the area. It looks like our kind of place.

  2. We will have to keep an eye on those ugly birds when we are there. Great shots of the osprey!

  3. I love your blog, it's always interesting and I get lots of great tips for once we finish retiring and can go full-time. I have a quick question, though. I know you use a kayak on occasion. Do boats (I'm thinking inflatables here) have to be registered in every state you want to use them in? How do you handle this, if they do? Thanks for any suggestions. Smiles, Sue Castle

    1. Maybe I'm supposed to register my Sea Eagle kayak everywhere we go, but i never have. It probably would be a good idea to check in with the local state authorities if you are going to be in an area for a long time. We've moved around so much that I just never thought of doing it, honestly. It hasn't been out for a long time, so I am anxious to get back in the water. Good question to pose to other RVers! I will put that in the blog and see what everybody says....

  4. Wow.. you got some great pics today! Really enjoyed your shots of the gators and birds. Shame on those danged vultures--- but liked the foam owl story!

    Karen and Steve
    The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  5. I love your bird shots. Interesting story about the vultures. Good for the fisherman - he kept trying until he foiled the birds! :)

  6. Great post. We have camped at Myakka twice and enjoyed the park on several occasions.

    I must say that I didn't see the that Sparky was intimidated by any pickle ball players. She can hold her own.

    On boat registration, Most states do not require any non motorized water craft under 16 feet to be registered. That said some local, county, waters in Virginia do require a permit to operate on waters in their parks.