Many types of herons are found in Florida, we saw plenty of Great Blue, White, Green, little Blue and Lava Herons! The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and Egrets are medium to large sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more secretive. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of the Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. There are 61 species worldwide, 28 in North America and 12 in Florida. I am uploading pictures of the ones we saw.
Being avid bird watchers we stopped on the road plenty of times as we spotted interesting subjects to shoot (via camera ofcourse!). One of our first encounters was flocks of vultures even as we were headed towards the alligator alley.
There are two distinct types of vultures in Florida. The black vulture, Coragyps atratus, tends to be a bit smaller than the turkey vulture, Cathartes aura. Both, however, are often called buzzards or carrion crows but are not related to either family. Both are found statewide, share similar habitats, diets, behaviors, and create similar problems for people. The black vulture and turkey vulture are protected by Federal law and cannot be killed without proper permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The major differences in these two birds are their appearance. The black vulture is approximately twenty-two inches in height and weighs 3.8 to 5.1 pounds. Its wingspan is approximately fifty-four inches and the bird is a dull black. It can be distinguished by wrinkles that cover the head and face, it has white tips on the each wing, the tips of their bills are grayish in color, the legs are a whitish color, have rounded tails, and their feet extend past their tails during flight.
If you want to watch some gators sunning up then head to HP Williams Road Side Park off the Tamiami Trail. It is a great place for bird watching and we saw much more than just birds and gators!!
First as we were scouting the area for gators we spotted a water snake- the indigo snake. Infact I almost stepped on it and as I precariously managed to avoid stepping on it I stepped on a ant hill and god, they made a meal of me!! :O None the less I braved on in the quest to see a gator and finally we spotted one, then another and another...gosh, suddenly we realized this place was swarming with gators!! We got so many pictures of them as you can see :)
We headed to the mangroves at Big Cypress Preserve, at the vistor's center they encouraged us to take a boat tour into the mangroves and it was one memorable experience. The 729,000 acre Big Cypress National Preserve was set aside in 1974 to ensure the preservation, conservation, and protection of the natural scenic, floral and faunal, and recreational values of the Big Cypress Watershed. The name Big Cypress refers to the large size of this area. Vast expanses of cypress strands span this unique landscape.
Most visitor facilities within the preserve are open and accessible every day of the year. Some seasonal and emergency closures may occur.
The Oasis Visitor Center is open from 9:00 - 4:30, every day but Christmas. We reached there by around 9 AM and we spent an hour at the vistor center and then took the 11:30 AM boat ride into the mangroves, we spotted Bald Eagles, Ospreys, American Kestrels, Terns and Pelicans on this tour. The best part was seeing the dolphins in the wild, they even set up the boat such that the dolphins would follow us for a mile!! There is something that is really happy about a dolphins, I loved watching them synchronise their jumps around us!!
Fort Myers is located about 35 miles north of Naples. It was established in 1850 as a US Army fort to protect the area against Seminole Indians and named after an early commander of the fort. The fort was abandoned in 1858 when the local Indian tribes were defeated, but it was reestablished in 1863 by Union troops during the Civil War. Permanent settlers finally began to arrive around 1866 and in the 1880s the town became a resort. In fact, the historic winter homes of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford are located here.
The town is the Spring Training location of Major League Baseball's Red Sox.
While visiting downtown Naples, we grabbed a couple of burgers at Cheeburger Cheeburger, then headed over to Sugden Regional Park. First we wandered through the butterfly garden, then walked out to the docks, where we sat along the water and ate our lunch. During our quick meal, a little bird swam up and begged for some of our bread, so we were generous.
The park sits alongside Lake Avalon, and it offers boat rentals, water skiing, a beach, a playground, and a trail around the lake.
Be sure to see all photos.
Although we had visited the zoo about eight years ago, it was under a different name, and it was not nearly as good. It has been enlarged; additions have been made; and it seems much more professional.
The zoo is located within a 52-acre, old growth botanical garden that was originally planted in 1919 by famed botanist, Dr. Henry Nehrling.
It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
There is a long history at this zoo of CONSERVATION. The founder was respected botanist, Dr. David Fairchild, who once said, The wildlife is passing. Man is destroying it..." A portion of the paid admission is dedicated to the Naples Zoo Conservation Fund which supports both regional and international efforts.
This zoo and gardens is comprised of these areas:
Primate Expedition Cruise on Lake Victoria where you take a cruise around the small islands where the monkeys live. [included in the ticket price]. All primates at the zoo live CAGE FREE on islands surrounded by the shores of Lake Victoria.
Safari Canyon Open-Air Theater
Alligator Bay where the alligator lounge in the sun and where the alligators are fed at specific times.
There are also these interest spots: Kangaroo Corner, Fosas, Cub Kingdom, Black Bear Hammock, Panther Glade, African Wil Dogs, Primate Pavilion, Mangrove Pool, Leopard Rock, African Oasis, and Cactus Hill.
There are also scheduled events:
10:30 a.m.: Meet the Keeper: Fosas at the Fosa [ pronounced Foose] Exhibit
11:00 a.m.: Alligator Bay Feeding at Alligator Bay
12:30 : Snake Sun Bathing along Shoreline Trail
1:30 p.m.: Meet the Keeper: African Lions
2:30 p.m.: Planet Predator in Safari Canyon Theater
3:00 p.m.: Alligator Bay Feeding again
4:00 p.m.: Meet the Keeper: Leopards at Leopard Rock
We saw a presentation called, "Serpents: Fangs and Fiction". While there, we saw the apes, alligators, lions, tigers, African Wild Dogs, Zebra, Parrots, porcupine, and the Madagascar's Fosas.
We certainly enjoyed all the plants, trees, and animals. I would certainly return again.
PLEASE SEE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ARCHITECTURE AND TO SEE ONE PART OF THE NORRIS GARDENS.
On a sunny afternoon when Allan and I were out exploring Naples, I ask if we could go see the Palm Cottage which I had read about. Allan decided that he would stay in the car and read the paper; thus, I went by myself.
One of the founder of Naples, Florida [Walter Halderman] who was a publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal, had this structure built as a winter home for his friend [Henry Watterson]. The cottage is "Old Florida" architecture and Rustic craftsman style. It is constructed of "tabbie" where the mortar is made of local oyster shells, and it is the only remaining "tabbie" house in SW Florida!
This cottage was also used for the overflow of guests from Halderman's 16-room Naples Hotel . Once Halderman died, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Parmer purchased it, and they were the ones who named it Palm Cottage.
It was sold in 1938 by Mrs. Parmer to her friends Messrs. Hendries and Gillis of Ontario. It was called Hamilton-Ontario House and used a rental property. In 1946 the Browns bought it, living there for 30 years. They were a colorful couple and entertained frequently. In 1978, the house was supposed to be destroyed; however, The Naples Historical Society purchased it, and in 1982, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, Palm Cottage serves as the headquarters of the Naples Historical Society.
I was taken on a private tour by one of the fine docents. The cost of a tour is $8.00 or $5.00 for children. The tour included a self-tour of the Norris Gardens.
PALM COTTAGE IS THE OLDEST HOUSE IN NAPLES. The Norris Gardens is considered an historic garden and consists of:
The Garden of the Senses
The Water Garden
The Palm Collector Garden
The Edible Garden
The Pioneer Garden
The Shade Garden
The Chickee Pavilion [gathering place roofed with Sabal Palm fronds & "constructed of Cypress by local Seminoles".
The iconic landmark of Naples, Florida, is, I feel, Naples City Pier. It's a favorite location of fishermen. You see them lined up along the pier, and I noticed that a fishing license is not needed to fish off the pier. [See Photograph # 5]
The Naples City Pier was built in 1888 so that ships could bring supplies. It was 600 feet in length; today it is over 1,000 feet long. It served as a pier for supplies until 1927 when train service came to Naples and 1928 when the Tamiami Trail [Route 41] was built.
It has been rebuilt after each hurricane [1910, 1926, 1944, 1960]. It was the hurricane called Donna in the 1960's that caused the most damage. Because of this severe dame, the new Naples City Pier was built as a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Norris.
1. Distant View of the Historic Naples City Pier
2. Beach scene near the Naples City Pier in the background
3. Fishermen lined up along the Naples City Pier
4. Entrance to Naples City Pier
5. Sign Explaining that a Fishing License is not needed on Pier because the city of Naples purchased a "blanket license" to cover all fishermen/women.
It's a delight to visit the Naples City Pier and to know its history and its importance to Naples.
About the third day after we arrived in Naples, we drove to the Philharmonic Center for the Arts to buy tickets for the musical "Mama Mia". We purchased our two tickets, even though we were disappointed about what was left for great seats. We were also somewhat disturbed that all tickets regardless of placement were the same price. [$84.00 per ticket]
Even though we had seen the movie "Mama Mia", and I had seen the stage musical, we liked it so much, we were willing to see it once again. Also, it was the only musical available while we were in Naples during January.
As the photographs show, the Center for the Arts has beautiful Outdoor Art Sculptures out front of the building [Photographs #2 and #3]
Fortunately, we were quite pleased with the presentation, but, as we suspected, the seats were not too good. They were in the side balcony. The problem tends to be that each row is not elevated enough. Our seats were business swivel chairs that could be lowered or raised. I raised it to the top height so that I was able to see over the head of the person in front of me.
The Philharmonic is a really beautiful building, and is quite eloquent inside. The acoustics are excellent. Allan noted that you could tell that Naples is a very wealthy community by just attending such a function and seeing those who attend.
We noticed that the February performance for eight days was "Riverdance".
the dockside boardwalk is a collection of shops, resturants, and bars located near tin city in the naples historic district. this shopping area is more touristy and is not as upscale as fifth ave. a nice place to buy gifts and souvenirs and to eat and drink in downtown naples.
Much more than a walk-through zoo, Caribbean Gardens offers a full day of activities & fun for every generation inside a 52-acre botanical garden founded in 1919. Cruise past trees of monkeys, lemurs, and apes living in natural island habitats on the Primate Expedition Cruise. Learn from animal experts as they interact with living animals including exotic cats inside Safari Canyon while narrating stunning wildlife footage from the world's leading conservation organizations. At the Meet the Keeper Series, you'll witness the big cats and other rare animals as they move within three or four steps of you. Get involved in the fun at the audience participation Scales & Tails Show. And experience giant reptiles churning the waters during the Alligator Bay Feeding. The zoo also features three children's play areas and a solar-powered audio tour with little known information for adults fun musical jingles for children. Snacks and meals are available from a franchise SUBWAY restaurant.
The focus of the zoo is on education and conservation to inspire guests to preserve animals in the wild. Since the introduction of exotic animals to the garden, however, a variety of rare species have successfully reproduced including cassowaries, anteaters, and chimpanzees. Current breeding successes include a fertile population of Solomon Island skinks, kinkajous, sable antelope, and white-fronted lemurs.
The downtown area consist of two part the Fifth Avenue South is Naples' Main Street and is filled with businesses..
The first bank in Collier County was built in 1923 ...
and Third Street which is historic Old Naples...an elegant shopping area with over 100 fine apparel shops, gift boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.
Just walk around or take the trolley which will explain all the history Naples has
The Naples Nature Center its a14-acre preserve located just southeast of the Coastland Center mall in Naples.
You can take a stroll on the nature trail – guided tours are offered.
A guided boat tour on the Gordon River is also available, is not all that fun, but maybe the rented canoe or kayak may be.
There is museum and nature store onsite as well. Be sure to call ahead, as some activities are only offered Monday through Saturday.
The Naples Nature Center is also home to the Conservancy’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where hundreds of injured wild animals are cared for each year.
You can walk around and see them, is like miniture zoo....
This not-for-profit organization started in 1990 when Frances Pew Hayes donated 1,500 teddy bears, which she had been collecting only since 1984.
Now the collection is over 5,000 teddy bears of all types and sizes!
The collection now includes bears from 28 different countries. The smallest bear is only 5/8 of an inch and the largest is life-size.
Many fairy tale scenes are played out in the 45 displays of the Teddy Bear Museum. The scene here depicts a wedding. .
Adults: $8 per person
Seniors: $6 per person
Children: $3 per person
Valet parking is $25 daily and required. Wait times can be upwards of 30 minutes. We had to wait...more
the ritz carlton is naples' best resort hotel. it is located at vanderbilt beach about five miles...more
My search for a room in February, 2001 gave me a price of $305.00 per night Great location on the...more