I don’t have a picture of him to show you, but the best part of my birding adventure today was a young man whose name is Arash. He’s from Orlando. But the most important thing was – he’s just completed walking the entire lenght of the Florida Trail. All 1000 miles of it!
We passed each other on the bike trail, very near Turtle Bridge, and nodded, then continued on our way. Little did I know that this very slim, very intense looking young man was within 50 yards of completing his hike from the Big Cypress Swamp in the Everglades to the northern terminus of the Trail, right here at Fort Pickens. That’s a 1,000 mile hike!
The actual brick monument with a brass plaque that designates the end of the Trail is right beside Turtle Bridge, although, I suppose, the actual end of the trail is a couple of hundred yards on, at the edge of the Fort Pickens parking lot.
Anyhow, a few minutes later, he came walking back toward the bridge, and me, and politely asked if I would take his picture standing beside the marker. So I did, using his iPhone. Our conversation then became about his journey. He told me that he had also already traversed the entire Appalachian Trail – from Georgia to Maine (something I’d always said I’d do someday, but never got around to it, although I have hiked many a mile in the Great Smokies where I grew up.). That’s 2,200 miles long! He was hoping to get a ride back into Pensacola Beach so that he could catch a couple of buses that would eventually get him to the Pensacola Greyhound station. He had a ticket for a bus heading south at 1 a.m.
So, of course, I offered to drive him all the way to the bus station. And he was hoping that he might catch an earlier bus. We hit it off immediately. I wished him well on his next adventure. He has my card, so maybe he’ll send me an email to let me know he got home safely. AND what he’s planning for his next adventure.
Meanwhile, back on the trail. Still disappointed that my favorite Osprey, Big Mama, hasn’t shown up yet. But there is beginning to be lots of Osprey activity. But here are a few things I found:
This young female Osprey seemed unsure about whether or not this is her nest. Nobody else seems to be using it. So why not?
And here’s my second favorite female ( also in a nest near Big Mama’s.)
She’s been here for a pretty long time … and doesn’t like me approaching too close. She’ll start screeching immediately if I get inside her comfort zone. So I try to keep my distance. She and her partner are very busy building and repairing their nest right now. And fighting off the occasional young buck who wants to butt in.
Meanwhile — back near Turtle Bridge. I’ve photographed this silly twig several times and finally decided to post it here. I’m not sure what fascinates me about it. Maybe it’s the bleached white, delicate little limbs against that black, black water.
And of course, there’s always the requisite turtle.
This is one of the Snapping Turtles I often see here. They’re all covered with a certain amount of moss. I’m guessing it’s because this body of water is still and there is no current. So things settle quietly. Thus, the moss on the turtles.
But this one …
… seemed to be fixated on me, and just floated there, almost motionless, for several munutes. I know it’s a face only a mother could love, but this day I found her to be sweet and friendly.
I noticed that she had this funny little flag of moss on her tail. Maybe she was just sticking it up out of the water so that I’d notice it. She’s not usually this attentive.
So I consider it a successful day. I met Arash. I found a few interesting birds. And I got to spend a few minutes of meditation staring into the eyes of a Snapping Turtle.
Who could ask for more?