My Trip to TM Goodwin Marsh. A.K.A.: Owls can swim

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First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has visited recently! I had to take a short break, but I’m back now, and I’m surprised at the amount of traffic I’m getting. Mostly, it seems, y’all are interested in Sam’s House, which I am a little baffled at. I will try to dig more up about it.

Secondly, I will probably be moving my site back to Blogger, where I started originally. I want the ability to sell some of my photos off of the blog, and that’s where I can do that. I hope you’ll follow me there! More to be announced when that’s ready.

And finally, to the story of the day. My visit to T.M. Goodwin Marsh.
It wasn’t my first visit, and won’t be my last, but it is a long way away for me to drive with two kids piled in the back of the truck. Luckily, I’ve inoculated them with a love for exploration and an interest in nature, so it’s fun, until about two hours in anyways. So, we make the haul down there and turn onto Fellsmere grade. It’s one of my favorite roads ever. It’s dirt, there are outhouses, it’s historic, and God only know what you will find on and around it. God was up for surprising me today. You probably already looked at the slideshow, so I’ll cut right to it. I saw FOUR, not one, not three, but FOUR Snail Kites. I got a photo of one. An awful photo, but proof no less. So, as I’m reeling from the luck I drive on, and I look back in my mirror to see a fluff of unnatural white on the road. I had to back up, I don’t know why. I’m glad I did. It was the barn owl. A baby barn owl, and it wasn’t moving. My heart strings tugged.

Now, I know that owls are nocturnal, and I know they aren’t uncommon in these parts. What threw me, was that this little-big owl was sleeping on the ground. It looked dead. Dead standing up. It was weird, so I took a picture before I tried to assess it further. So it slept through three photos, and suddenly, it wasn’t asleep anymore, and it flew. It didn’t fly to the road, didn’t go up to a tree. To my horror and vexation, it flew over the water, and only. made. it. half. way. Halfway! It was like watching the sinking of the Titanic. I felt the urge to jump in and save it, guilt that I drove it to fly into the water, and an insanely dreadful feeling that me and my girls were A. gonna watch it sink and die or B. Gonna see an alligator eat a barn owl. I was not thrilled about either so I began devising a C. Use the fishing pole I had to catch it and reel it out or D. jump in and save it. Neither C or D seemed that great given that a hook in the wrong spot could be horrendous wing-breaking, and D. that there were a lot of gators in there and given that I didn’t get eaten in front of my small children I’d be riding home covered in swamp water with two kids and an owl in my truck. About this time, something happened. It started to swim… yep… it swam. Spread it’s wings out and used them like oars, slowly, right back to the land it flew from. I stood there and watched, then thought to photograph it. So now, without any hesitation, if any one ever asks you the odd question about a baby barn owls ability to swim, you can say Yes, Virginia, Barn Owls can swim. At least a little ways, and maybe in shallow water, but they can. Don’t mention the specifics.

So, I’ve seen four Snail Kites, about ten Red Shouldered Hawks, the swimming baby Barn Owl, and I haven’t even made it to my destination yet. Geeze, what more can I ask for!? How about a Caracara, an Otter, more Snail Kites, a Broadwinged hawk, a Northern Harrier, a Peregrine Falcon (pretty sure, it was really fast!) Roseate Spoonbills, a family of raccoons, a gazillion herons and coots, and Vultures… Lots of vultures. I pretty much drove around in a fog of wow. I’m not sure what I could’ve seen had I drove slower, looked a little harder, and didn’t have a feverish four year old fighting with a tenacious two year old in the back, but I’m pretty sure it would’ve been amazing. I was a little disappointed Broadmoor Marsh was closed. I remember that section being even more interesting than TM Goodwin. Ah, well, another day perhaps. A good reason to have to go back.

For more information on TM GOODWIN and BROADMOOR Marsh you can visit the FWC site here

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