31 December 2007

My Top 10 Nature Moments of 2007

2007 was a year full of many changes for me. I finally settled down and lived in only one state (compared to 3 states in 2008). I also took another full-time job and actually made the majority of my trips this year in my new home state of Florida. Here is a breakdown of my top 10 nature moments of 2007 (meme from Earth, Wind & Water):

10. Wekiwa State Park Camping (December 7-9) - I love camping and all of my camping adventures of this year make it on my top 10. This is a sign that I need to go camping more and it will certainly be one of my resolutions for the New Year. This was my first time holding a scorpian.

9. West Coast Florida Trip (February) - This was only my 3rd time seeing the Gulf Coast and with the help of my friend Kim, I hit all the hotspots in the Fort Myers area. I really enjoyed seeing hundreds of bats leave their bridge roost at sunset near Pine Island. And of course visiting Sanibel Island was great, along with the Red Egret feeding at Ding Darling N.W.R. I picked up a few lifer birds including a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

8. Seminole State Park Camping (May 4-7) - My Tallahassee friends took me to a great little park in Georgia where we enjoyed swimming in the lake and birding the trails. I even saw my first Blue Grosbeak. On the way, we stopped at Bird Song, the best viewing station for feeder birds I have ever seen. It was a great trip and I even slept outside on a wooden platform with just my sleeping bag, which was a first for me, platform in below picture.

7. Paynes Prairie State Park Camping (May 25-27) - Another camping adventure but this time it afforded me a chance to see bison grazing. Other than the ticks and deer flies, the hike in to our campsite was fun and we saw a few nice birds along the way.

6. Florida Trail: Ocean to Lake Trail (August 4th) - This was my first time hiking the Florida Trail. As promised the trail was flooded at times and the rest of the time my feet were covered in sand. I loved this all day hike that took me through Jonathon Dickinson State Park. I did the East Loop Trail that winds through the park. One day I would love to hike the whole Ocean to Lake Trail.

5. Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge Backcountry Camping (November 12-13) - There's no better way to experience the outdoors than by canoeing through a wildlife refuge. As always, the Okefenokee didn't let me down. We saw alligators, Sandhill Cranes, and lots of migrating American Robins. We also had a lot of fun singing songs and enjoying the peaceful swamp.

4. Keys Trip (July) - This was my first time to the Keys and I was more than happy. My mother and aunt accompanied me for a little snorkeling and a lot of driving. We took lots of silly pictures with large mermaids and road signs. From Key Largo to Key West it was quite an adventure.

3. Everglades National Park Trip (April 16-17) - My first time in the Everglades was a great experience. I loved the expansive river of grass and the breathtaking scenery of the bay at Flamingo. I saw quite a few life birds, Summer Tanager and Blue-headed Vireo, and even made a new friend at the Everglades Hostel.

2. Green Cay Nature Center (January 22) - After a whirlwind year of traveling and change I moved to Palm Beach County and started working at Green Cay. The bird life is amazing. I have had numerous experiences with our resident bobcats and of course, there is always something new to see in the marsh. We had a few unusual birds this year including: Eared Grebe, Shiny Cowbird, Bronzed Cowbird and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. In the last month we have had visits from a Bufflehead, American Wigeon, and a Gadwall. Green Cay continues to amaze me.

1. Bolivia, South America (October 6-21) - The first time out of the country for me in almost 10 years proved to be the best experience of my life. Bolivia deserves its own Top 10 list. The highlights include hiking up mountains, swimming in waterfalls, soaking in natural springs, birding in the Chaco, and enjoying the city of Santa Cruz. I loved every minute of my time there and I had a great traveling companion to see me through the experience. I saw many life animals including a Spectacled Caiman and 53 new life birds.