Where was I, when someone recommended I visit Florida’s St Mark’s Wildlife Refuge if I was in the panhandle area? As it was, I would be! An easy right hand turn and slightly more than an hour drive, a slight deviation from my plan. Wow, I could have spent days at this refuge; it was great recommendation. That’s really not hard to imagine since I can spend hours at a highway rest stop! That is what birding has done to me!
Fortunately while at the refuge, I beat the rain which did come as a downpour a few hours after my arrival. Until then I could walk some trails, stop along the refuge road and look for any interesting birds. Two new birds are added to my bird life list: semi-palmated plover and brown-headed nuthatch. (I am still trying to get a photo of that nuthatch.)
At another point on this trip while driving a Georgian blue highway before connecting to an interstate, I saw a Nature Conservancy sign at Altama Plantation Wildlife Management Area. As a supporter of Nature Conservancy since 1980, I stopped at this location. After a mile, one lane, drive in …. onto the road’s shoulder as 2 other cars were leaving … there is a registration box. It looked like a good place to hike. Unfortunately I had little time and no land pass permitting me to visit here this day, plus I was not sure if it was deer, turkey, small game or waterfowl hunting season. (Note to self: add it to a future visit list.)
And then there was a turn I took to South Carolina’s oldest Angel Oak Tree. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of people visiting this almost 1,000 year old oak tree! The tree is huge … 60 feet in height with its thick branches stretching every which way. I include a photo with some people in it so you can get a sense of its size. (Look closely to see the people.)
Sometimes a turn is a necessary one, such as when needing to use a toilet. I stopped at a rest area in Virginia and spent a couple of hours bird watching. The highway traffic noise overwhelmed some of the bird songs, but there were quite a few birds to see. I had my 200 – 500 mm lens on my camera and all on a tripod since the birds were loving the tall deciduous trees. To other people stopping at this rest area it was obvious what I was doing. I had a conversation with a man from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We talked about birds, Merlin Bird ID app, and my interest in getting to that area of Michigan some time. About an hour later I returned to my van and I saw a note tucked at the van window. The Michigan people provided their name and phone number and wrote, “call if you happen to be in the area” visiting the refuge he mentioned. Very kind! I’ll see if that travel can fit into my plan. So many places to go!
Finally, it was not my plan to write this blog post now because I should be on the road and arriving at my campsite in an hour or so. However, Google maps … my co-pilot has informed me there is a car accident ahead and slowing us all for at least one hour 3 minutes. The last time I was slowed due to an accident … actually the last one was yesterday, a tractor truck trailer accident … fortunately my exit was before the crash site so I only had a half hour delay. The week prior, a RV pulling a car was disabled in a tunnel and that was more than an hour delay. What did I learn about all of this? If a rest area is available, stop there and not creep along in the delayed traffic! It also reinforces the importance of always have plenty gas or EV in your car!
The latest: the traffic is now backed up all the way from crash site to this rest area, so I guess I am staying here for a longer period of time or at least till this traffic starts moving again. Thankfully I can be flexible!