It feels like our Asia adventure was ages ago! From Malaysia to Florida was a 30-hour flight and after that we basically slept for a week. By now, we have enjoyed a total of 3 weeks with Rick’s family. This time, we made a real effort to find new parks and reserves in the greater Englewood/Sarasota area to go for walks. Luckily, the local Audubon Society (an American organization which focuses on the protection of birds and other wildlife) published a little booklet with recommendations. One of them was Pine Craft Park in Sarasota, which isn’t very big but produces some interesting species of birds. Most exciting were the Barred Owls that were nesting there. And who doesn’t like owls?! Pine Craft Park has another plus – the nearby Yoder restaurant. Their Amish-style food is well known in the area and we combined a visit to the park with their (huge) breakfast. Yummh. Uncle Brian and Rick senior battled with a ginormeous omlette, JoAnn was surprised by the size of her fruit salat, Rick devoured his granola banana crunch pancakes and I was more than impressed with my apple fritter french toast (which was a huge slice of yeast-based bread). None of us ate lunch that day and all of us felt the need to work out in the afternoon.
In Sarasota, no birding trip is complete without a walk in the Celery Fields. This wetland area boasts the most species in the area. My beloved Roseate Spoonbills are always there, so are the Sandhill Cranes. Birding there is easy and relaxing, as you just leisurely stroll on the short boardwalks (unlike birding in Papua where the mud and vines pose an impenetrable trap).
Further up north, close to Tampa, is Fort Desoto. This gorgeous barrier island is a fantastic spot to picnic, enjoy the beach and go for walks (or take a little nap in the shade, just like JoAnn and I did). Additionally, it is perfect in spring time to find some migrating species. Here, we saw North America’s most colorful bird – the Painted Bunting. What a stunner!
Besides our little morning and afternoon walks, we enjoyed the family time and ate fantastic sea food. It turns out that Rick’s dad is the best cook in the area and no restaurant can match his fish dishes. While the men were fishing, the ladies zen-doodled away. That pretty much sums up our Florida break.