Friday, 25 February 2011

Fun In Central Florida

On Tuesday, Skip and I drove over to Kissimmee to meet with Francey, Rich, Lorna and John. We found a 'villa' online that would accommodate the 6 of us comfortably with a full kitchen, laundry facilities and a pool. It was a great deal for three couples for four nights.

Here's our motley group at dinner last night.
Francey gave Lorna and me gifts of artisan pottery. I was very pleased to receive a lovely yarn bowl!
I had seen them at Rhinebeck last October but didn't buy one even though I really wanted one. I just didn't want to lug it around the sheep and wool festival. Now I have one! Yay!

Skip and I went outlet shopping on Wednesday while the others went to the Universal theme park in Orlando. We met up for dinner afterwards. Yesterday, the guys went golfing and we girls went outlet shopping at another premium outlet then met back at the villa so we could head out to watch the Discovery shuttle launch. We had heard all day that the highways leading to the launch area were completely congested so decided to find a place a few miles east of Kissimmee with a good view of the horizon to the east. It was the parking lot of a golf course very near a large-ish lake. When we pulled into the driveway, we spotted a sandhill crane.
Unfortunately some clouds had moved in. But we did see the brilliant white space craft and its vapour trail.
Today, Skip and I drove over to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding. We ate at El Leoncito - Titusville's premier Mexican food restaurant. From there we had a terrific view of the Kennedy Space Centre. This photo was taken of the view of a previous launch from the El Leoncito parking lot.
After lunch we crossed the bridge to the island and made our way to the wildlife refuge. Here is a sampling of the birds (and gators) we spotted.

This mama osprey built her nest very close to the park information building.
Here is one of the two roseate spoonbills we saw.
We saw several gators. In every case they were snoozing in the sunshine. Here are three of them.

We saw a veritable panoply of herons and egrets.

This one's a tricolor heron.
He has a really bizarre posture whilst fishing.
Here's a little blue heron.
I only saw this one glossy ibis who was fishing all by himself.
And sitting on a post in Mosquito Lagoon was this royal tern.
And here are some blue-wing teal.
From quite a distance, we saw this bird walking towards us. It had a real swagger and definitely was not a typical shorebird. It's a boat-tailed grackle. I'd only seen them before in Costa Rica.
Here you can really see the yellowlegs' yellow legs.
We saw quite a few willets from afar.
We certainly have been enjoying the 28C temperatures and bright sunshine. The warm south breeze and being near the water today kept us from getting too hot. It was a lovely day to go birding and it was also very cool to be so close to the Kennedy Space Centre - even though we missed seeing the shuttle launch close up.

One more thing (I forgot to include this in my previous post)... A common plant parasite seen in trees down here is mistletoe. It looks like green leafy spheres up in trees and can get quite large. Here's some in a tree in our 'manufactured home' community.
And this puts its size in perspective.

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