Monday, January 12, 2009

Armadillos, Levees, and The St. Sebastian River Preserve

Our thanks to Charlie Corbeil for this interesting photo of the full moon, taken in the early-morning fog. That was some moon! (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Neighbor John called the other day to suggest a field trip to the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in nearby Fellsmere. It was a beautiful Florida day for something like this - mid 70s, sunny - great idea. This turned out to be a "recon" trip - the Preserve is such a treasure, and there is so much to talk about, this post will be just an overview - with promises of more later.

First, some facts. The Park is located in Brevard and Indian River Counties. The north entrance is off Babcock (County Road 507), just north of the C-54 Canal (about 10 miles south of Palm Bay Road). The south entrance is off Fellsmere Road (CR512), 1.8 miles east of I-95. The Preserve is a 21,956 acre property owned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management district. Florida Park Services manages the property. Habitat is primarily pine flatwoods and supports such critters as southern bald eagle, bobcat, river otter, deer, wild turkey, red-cockaded woodpeckers, scrub jays, wood storks, etc etc etc - a nature lover's paradise. There are trails that one can explore on foot, by bicycle, or on horseback. You can canoe, boat, and fish. There's a primitive camping facility. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days of the year. The visitor center is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Follow the above link for more information.

We started at the Visitor Center, staffed by a charming volunteer named Sandy. Sandy is one of our seasonal residents, hailing from Minnesota. While we were there, a couple from Texas came in, here for just a day while attending a family event. They found the Preserve on their Great Florida Birding Trail map, and reminded me that Texas was the first state to create birding and wildlife viewing trails. They were eager to see a swallowtail kite, but Matt tells me that not too many have made it to Florida yet this year.

We drove down the main dirt road that runs beside the C-54 Canal levee (a road that can only be described as "washboard"). I don't know enough about levees (yet) to speak intelligently about them, but aesthetically, they are pretty cool! You Washington State and Black Hills of South Dakota readers will laugh at the photo, but for a flat-lander Central Floridian whose idea of rolling hills is a golf course, this was a big hill! The photo is one I took from the bottom of the levee bank looking up at Neighbor John standing at the top.

Neighbor John has not lived in these parts for long, and it is interesting to see things through a new-comer's eyes. For example, we had to stop so he could take photos of an armadillo - most Floridians would not stop for that, but he reminded me that folks other than Floridians read this blog. This would be a nine-banded armadillo, and one of its more interesting characteristics is that genetically identical quadruplets are born in each litter. They are prolific diggers and are considered a pest by most Florida homeowners. We thank John for making us stop and for providing us with this delightful photo (I alternated between sitting in the car and yelling at him to leave the poor critter alone).

The rowing teams for Florida Tech practice in Canal 54 and host events there, and as luck would have it, when we climbed to the top of the levee and looked down, there was a boat full of students practicing (I suspect my terminology is wrong), with their coach motoring away beside them.

All in all, a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
P.S. If you're lucky (like me), you have somebody that blogs about your old home town and high school days. This weather cam from Deadwood, South Dakota was on his blog the other day - take a look.


Cactus Jack Splash said...

I think Armadillos are so darn cute

Amanda said...

Marge, love the armadillos! They are so unique to the south. Could you please have Dick shoot me an email I had to clean out my laptop because we have t return it to the company and i lost all the emails he sent as well as his address. I hate when these things happen.