Saturday, November 01, 2008
St Marks National Wildlife Management Refuge,St Marks, Florida
November 1, 2008 We made the 62 mile trip from home in Cairo, Georgia to St. Marks. It is right on the coast and is a large area with hiking, boating, kayaking,canoeing, picnicing, hunting, and birdwatching. There is a boat dock for larger boats as well as other areas for kayaks and canoes.The weather was a little cool when we started, about 40, but supposed to warm up. We loaded the kayaks in the back of the truck but decided they just might be going along only for the ride if it was too windy and cool. We made a side trip to Sam's Club for a few things as we don't get that way often. We picked up one of their delicious rotisserie chickens and decided to get some potato salad and beans for lunch. We arrived at St Marks and made lunch our first priority. We found a nice picnic area overlooking the water and had lunch. Last week was the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival. A lot of butterflies come to St Marks before migrating south for the winter. There is a lot of Goldenrod there and they seem to like to feed on it. We were past the peak time, but did see a fair amount of Butterflies. We walked along a beautiful trail and saw a lot of beautiful flowers, Fiddler Crabs, Butterflies and a even a Dolphin feeding in the bay. It was a beautiful clear blue sky day and the temperature warmed up to the mid or upper 70's. This next picture is cactus with pretty pink buds. There was quite a lot of this. The lighthouse always looks pretty against the blue sky but today there were red berries from the Youpan Holly bush. At times the lighthouse is open to the public, but it was closed today. It is still pretty to look at. We had planned to put the kayaks into the pool areas they have along the side of the main road. There are marsh grasses in there and usually a lot of birds. There were signs up today stating you were not allowed to put boats in after October 13th. We asked the ranger and were told it is due to the ducks that come this time of year during migration. We later found out they allow limited hunting on the grounds so we wondered how a kayak would be worse then a gun! : ) The visitor center is quite interesting with displays and the usual tourist items to purchase. There is a nice trail behind the visitor center but today we didn't go on the trail because there was a mother alligator with 7-8 babies with her. We lived in Florida for 30 years and have seen a lot of gators on our kayaking trips but this is the first time we ever saw a mama and her babies. It was quite a site. One was resting on her back and the others were hanging around near her. There was quite a difference in their sizes. The photos didn't really show them with their mother except the one on her back.