You can take the GRITS out of Florida, but you can't take Florida out of the GRITS!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Visit to the Upper Keys

My husband, the squirt and I decided to take a drive down to Tavernier today. Nothing was planned except to visit my step-daughter and to check on a couple of our caches down there. After that, we made a stop at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. They care for injured, sick and disabled wild birds. Some of the birds there came from other places that were overcrowded, but most came from right there in the Keys. Fish hooks and monofilament are the cause of most all of their injuries.

A Screech Owl, Barred Owl, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks...

I was excited to spot this quick moving Diamondback terrapin. I've never seen one before. Just wish I could've gotten better pics of it!

This Brown Booby is named "Byron". Not 100% sure what he's in for, but it looks like it may be a problem with his left leg.

This Roseate Spoonbill was rescued from the median strip on US1. He looks like he's in rough shape, doesn't he?

A cormorant and a beautiful Barn Owl, who's an amputee...

"Samson and Delilah", a pair of permanently injured Great Horned Owls. They are bonded and are used to raise orphaned baby owls. Can you see their lunch in the crook of the tree?

This American Kestral was so pretty. He'd been shot by a BB gun and his shoulder is fused. I really thought my pics of him would come out better than they did.

For a small donation of $5, I highly recommend everyone stop at the bird center. The exact address is:
93600 Overseas Hwy.
Tavernier, Florida 33070

Our next stop was John Pennekamp State Park. Although the main attraction of this park is the coral reefs, there are still some nice things to see without renting a canoe or kayak, or going out on one of their dive boats.

They have a very nice visitor center with tanks filled with some pretty cool one of my favorite foods in the whole world...Spinytail Lobster!!! (these are just babies and anyone who knows about lobster know the babies are the best to eat!)
This guy was too cute. Thanks, Misti, for id'ing it as a jawfish.
Living Brain Coral.
Ok, this shot is nothing really. Just a trip down memory lane for me. When I was little, I used to row my 10' jon boat up to this dock, tie it up, jump out and get some ice cream. I'd sit on the dock and think I was The Shit. Not a tourist. I actually got here in my own boat...I was a CAPTAIN, dammit!!
There are two beaches at Pennekamp. One is really set up for snorkeling, and the other is more of a typical coconut palm lined little cove. Beautiful. I would've taken pics to show you, but there were so many people. They also rent canoes and kayaks, and small boats.
The main attractions, though, are the dive boats that go out to Molasses Reef and a huge statue of Christ that is...I don't know...maybe 20 ft. underwater. You do not know what you're missing until you've been able to see the reefs and all the life that lives in them.
Like zoos, I think most people have to actually SEE something before they can understand it and care about it. If you go to the Wild Bird Center and see the awful damage caused my fishing line...and you go to the reefs and see the damage boats and people can will hit you, and you'll care just a little more.
No one who visits the Florida Keys should leave without stopping at these two places.


misti said...

I love the Keys WBC! We've gone a few times and always enjoy it!

That is a jawfish. I love those guys!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful day in the Keys.

lisa marie said...

That looks like a great trip! I love all your birds photos. :)

Sandcastle Momma said...

What a fun day that must have been. When we lived in Miami we spent every minute possible in the Keys and Pennekamp is my favorite spot. The first time we snorkled there I was so blown away I almost drowned LOL Pictures can't do justice to the reefs there. We're planning a road trip to the Keys this summer and are planning to spend several days there in Key Largo so we can show the kids what real reefs look like LOL I love the bird sanctuary and your pictures turned out great. This has made me even more excited about our trip!

heather said...

The Wild Bird center is one of my favorite stops in the keys. Great Pictures!

bob hampton said...

Excuse me but when I was a boy I would tie up the boat on that dock and get the ice cream. Bob Hampton, (Bill's twin brother) class of '63, CSHS

SwampAngel65 said...

Well, Bob, I guess we were both "THE SHIT" back then! Did you ever almost get swamped by the glass bottom boat like I did? Boy that used to piss me off...

storyteller said...

I loved this post … and think it would make a great one for the Camera Critters Sunday meme hosted by Misty Dawn! It makes me want to get outside and visit a wildlife preserve here in Southern California (though not on a weekend)!!! Thanks for sharing. Links for Camera Critters can be found in today’s post at Small Reflections … along with photos of my two fur-companions.
Hugs and blessings,

Sandcastle Momma said...

I keep coming back to look at your pictures LOL I'm missing our days in the Keys something fierce lately.

Jan said...

I LOVE the keys and your photos are amazing.