Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around us...to touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Visiting Lower Suwannee NWR

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One of the things Mike and I wanted to be sure to do while in Cedar Key was visit the Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge.  We have a real love for the wildlife refuges in our country.  In 2009 we volunteered at Hagerman NWR in Texas and have been in love ever since.  Once we purchase our next RV we definitely want to get back into volunteering in the various wildlife refuges around the country.

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The Lower Suwannee NWR is quite large….53,000 acres to be exact.  This refuge was developed to protect one of the largest undeveloped river-delta estuarine systems in the U.S. 

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It consist of natural salt marshes, tidal flats, bottomland hardwood swamps, and hardwood forest making an excellent habitat for thousands of large and small creatures.       

The first day out we decided to take the Shell Mound Loop which is the closest loop to Cedar Key.  This loop took us down three driving paths…..Dennis Creek Trail, Shell Mound Trail and the Shell Mound Fishing Pier.  This was a very nice peaceful drive showing the different habitats provided by this NWR.  It was on the Shell Mound Trail that we spotted a beautiful hawk sitting on a cable wire. 

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We weren’t sure which hawk he was but after consulting a few pictures we felt he might be a Red Shoulder Hawk.  When I posted the picture on Facebook one of my friends said it was a Coopers Hawk.  So if we have any birders reading perhaps you can shed some light on this beautiful creature.  I was so excited that I was able to get such a good shot of him with my little Sony point and shoot camera.  YAY me!!  A few very distinctive looking Vultures were sunning themselves on an overlook.  Must have been an off day for them!

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The next day we set out to drive the 9 mile Lower Suwannee Nature Drive.  We were in hopes of spotting some birds or other wildlife on this drive but I am afraid it was just too hot.  The heat index was probably near 105 and the humidity was extremely high.  That was disappointing but the drive was not.  It was also a very beautiful peaceful drive showing a much larger area of the habitats this refuge provides.  The most impressive area we passed through was the swamp area. 

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It seemed to go on forever and was definitely a swamp land.  We saw some beautiful wild ferns growing among the trees, many lily pads and huge cypress trees growing right in the shallow water.  We drove through the flood plain hardwood forest, scrub oak communities, and of course the pine plantation in the upland area. 

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A great day and a great drive through what is proudly known as “old” Florida showing the huge amounts of vegetation that provide for the creatures that call this Suwannee River Country their home.

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14 comments:

Carol K said...

What a great tour, Mike and Gerri. Good pictures!

Donna K said...

You got some really nice shots with that little camera for sure! Thanks for the ride-along, I enjoyed every minute.

Sue and Doug said...

down by the Suwannee River..sorry couldn't resist..!..nice bird shots today..can't help you with the names but I am sure someone out in blogville will be able to ID them for you!!!
love the shot of the boardwalk!!!

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Great pictures of the birds,w would enjoy a day out like that also.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

John and Ellen said...

Thanks for the great tour. This is an area we have not visited yet and didn’t know much about. Like you we love our national parks and wildlife refuges. We have added Cedar Key and Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge to our list.

John
connectedtothevinephotography.blogspot.com

Dennis and Donna said...

We stayed at Suwanee River State Park around Live Oak in 2005...A very lovely area...Great pictures, by the way!

Judy and Emma said...

I would agree with your assessment that the perched hawk is a red-shouldered hawk. Is the bird in flight the same bird? That one looks like a red-tailed hawk. Hmmm. I don't think the bird has a long enough tail to be a Cooper's hawk.

Thanks for the tour of the refuge. I've often thought of applying there to volunteer.

~~Mike~~ said...

What a beautiful area! Love those hawk pics! Well, love them all actually, you guys always inspire me to try to get some better pics up. Now I just have to figure out how to get you up here to take them for me :)

You still contemplating a "B" for your next rig?

-Mike
97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"
HTTP://WWW.VanTramps.Com

Rick and Paulette said...

Great tour and pics of the wildlife refuge - thanks!

squawmama said...

Incredible photos Gerri ~they are awesome!!!
Have fun & Travel safe
Donna

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Great pictures of the hawks. We found the shell mounds to be very interesting.

Kimbopolo said...

Wonderful photos! What a great plan for the future - volunteering at the NWRs. Brilliant!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Are those last pictures pelicans or cormorants? All very nice shots!

Roxanne

Wayne and Maureen said...

Glad you two can visit the areas you like and then make us want to go by reading your blog! Take care and keep making it new...