When you first drive into Myakka River State Park you come to a small bridge. Most people pull off and park and walk over the bridge to look for alligators. I did the same. I saw all of the above from the bridge. Fourteen alligators in the first few minutes of driving into the park (all from a far away safe distance). That limpkin in the last shot was a little too close though.
After the bridge I pulled over at the big field to get some shots of the tickseed in full bloom.
Out in the field I noticed an eagle sitting high up in a utility tower.
There’s something magical about standing in a field of yellow flowers, especially one this big. I was only standing right off the road.
After taking in the flowers I headed over to the edge of lake to see what I could find. Walking down the path from the parking lot I had to keep my eyes open. This guy was just off the path so I stayed far away.
Looking across a small creek I could see the river bank full of them. I counted 32 alligators this morning. I’m sure it’s the most I’ve seen in one day.
It was mid-May and I was hoping the yellow flowers were out at Myakka River State Park. Tickseed is the official Florida state wildflower and blooms naturally in central Florida during May. The park is one of the best places to see it blooming. Huge fields of yellow as far as you can see. I was hoping to see some birds as well since migration was still going on.
I ran into some other birders when I first got there and they were heading into the swamp just off the main road to see some barred owls (you could actually see the owls from the road if you knew where to look through the trees). We couldn’t find the adults but the 2 juveniles were easy to spot. They both still had a little baby fuzz on their heads. The oldest was trying to take an early morning nap until the sun hit his face. The younger one in the bottom shot was wide awake and looking around.
We then found one of the adults. She took off quickly farther into the woods.
The thistle was also blooming.
Some black bellied whistling ducks flew overhead.
There were several limpkins feeding along the bank of the river.
I watched this great blue heron play with his food for 15 minutes before leaving.
I saw a record number for me of alligators on this trip to the park. More on them and the tickseed later.
While I was at Myakka River State Park in early May, I did see a little bit of wildlife. This young male deer was just off the road.
I lost count of the vultures and alligators I saw. I was there early in the morning before the majority of the alligators had started to lay out on the banks but I still saw a ton.
I saw this little bird walking around near the big alligator’s tail. Zooming in I saw that it was a spotted sandpiper. I hope he has good reflexes and can get away fast if that alligator whips around.
Far down the river I could see limplins looking for food. It looks like one of them has a snack.
I got out of the car and was walking across the parking lot to head to the boardwalk and this guy came out of the bushes and ran across the parking lot.
A swallow tail kite flies low overhead.
Just down the road from the park, this old barn must have some pretty good stories to tell. I couldn’t tell if it’s still being used but the ivy is started to take over the roof.
I headed down to Myakka River State Park in mid-May. It’s about an hour and a half from my home near Tampa. I knew I probably wouldn’t see a lot of birds since the water was low in the lake and spring migration was mostly over but that was okay. I really came to see the fields of yellow. Tickseed (formal name is coreopsis) was named the state wildflower in 1991 and you can see plenty of it here. I got to the open field and got out of the car and used my phone to take the above pano. Yellow as far as the eye can see.
There was also some thistle blooming along the road which added some pink.
I was hoping to see some deer or turkey crossing the field but after waiting an hour all I got was a crow.
The sun coming through the tree.
Along a path near the lake, the thistle was growing so high I couldn’t see over it.
Besides the yellow tickseed in May, this park is known for having a lot of alligators. Looking across a river there were several sunning themselves and one swimming by from the left. The pink buds in front of the tickseed is swamp milkweed.
Before heading out I stopped at this pond and snapped the above with my phone.
One of the few animals I saw at Myakka River State Park was a deer near the big lake. She was alone and hiding in the shadow.
Closer to the water I could see some black bellied whistling ducks and black necked stilts.
A crow guarding the parking lot.
Myakka Park, just south of Sarasota, is known for having huge gators. And a lot of them although not as many as the Everglades. Timing is everything to see the big ones. They usually come out to sun themselves late in the afternoon. If it’s really hot, they’ll stay in the water most of the day. I was there early in the morning and only saw a few small ones. There is an area in the park that is off limits that has 100’s of them. The “Deep hole” is a 4 mile round trip hike out to where they are hidden but you have to have a permit to hike out there. The rangers give out 30 permits a day and I heard they are all snatched up in the first hour. I keep saying I want to get down there in the winter and hike out the hole but keep putting it off. I think this winter might be the time.
The sun was just coming up over the trees when I headed out on one trail.
This is a huge park with a lot of wide open spaces. I was out on a rare Monday off so there was hardly anyone there.
A pano with my phone of a dried up lake.
When thinking of a bird that could represent Halloween I think of vultures. Crows or ravens would be scarier but I didn’t come across those recently. On a day off in September I headed down an hour from my house to Myakka River State Park. I had not been in over a year and wasn’t expecting to find much there in September but I wanted to get out of the house. I found a little obscure trail that led to a dead end with a small dock across the river. The roof of the dock was covered in vultures and there were more nearby on the ground. I think there had been a dead alligator in the area. They were looking at me very curiously, probably wondering what I was doing in their spot.
Up close. This one has a small boo boo on his face.
On the ground next to the trail.
Taken with my phone, you could see how close they were.
I was keeping an eye on this guy right below me in the water.