After spending some time in Castillo de San Marcos, I cycled around the adjacent streets of St. Augustine looking at some of the unique architecture of the area. The Spanish influence on architectural style of the older structures was evident at every turn. Very interesting urban landscape.
Built in 1672, the Castillo de San Marcos was the center of quite a few skirmishes over the years, first as the Old World fought colonial wars around the world and later as Confederate and Union forces battled over their issues in the various American skirmishes. It was named Fort Marion from 1821 to 1942 and for a period of British rule was named Fort St. Mark from 1763 until 1784. (Location)
St Augustine is one of only three walled cities constructed in North America. I have now visited two of them – Quebec City in Canada and now St. Augustine in Florida. Because Florida is so flat, standing upon the walls of the fort provided any defenders excellent sight-lines in all directions to warn of the approach of any attacking forces.
The Lyonia Preserve is a relatively new wildlife ecological preserve established to develop a restored scrub preserve in Volusia County north of Orlando, Florida. I first learned of the preserve when visiting the Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet a few days earlier.
My main reason for visiting the Lyonia Preserve today was to photograph some of the many Florida Scrub Jays that now call the preserve their home. I wasn’t disappointed. The county and school groups have re-established a wonderful scrub habitat and ecosystem. An interesting series of three looped trails allows individuals to walk through the preserve without disturbing the environment. The trails are wide and obvious so no problem with losing one’s way although one signpost caught my attention and made me smile. The footing is a soft fine grained sand but footing is generally stable but not solid enough for wheelchairs. Strategically located benches provide spots to sit and watch the world unfold. There are only limited areas with any sort of shade so, on a hot day, taking a bottle of water along would be advisable. Since I was short on time, I did all three trails at a very brisk pace but a more leisurely pace would be highly recommended.
A severe winter storm had moved though the northern US into Ontario and the Maritime Regions shutting down or disrupting air and road traffic from Chicago to New York City and points in between so we were happy to have decided to spend an extra night in Florida but had to head north today. The Manatee, which were hard to find the night before, were back in the warm spring waters in numbers when we went for another look in the morning and, with lighting coming from a different direction, they were a lot easier to see. (Location)
A severe storm was moving across the upper US states so rather than drive into bad conditions, we opted to spend an extra day in Florida. That gave us time to visit the Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet just south of Daytona Beach. While there, the staff told us that there was a large congregation of Manatee at Blue Springs State Park north of Orlando so that became our afternoon destination. As soon as we got there we unloaded the truck, set up tents and headed out in search of the Manatee. (Location)
The Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet is closed on Mondays so, since we had decided to delay our northward travels due to a severe winter storm crossing the northern US, we were able to return to Ponce Inlet on Tuesday for a bit more cycling and a visit to the Marine Science Center.
When we were at Merritt Island, an avid birder told me that, if we wanted to see gulls, the the place to be at 3PM was the beach at Frank Rendon Park at 2705 S. Atlantic Ave in Daytona Beach Shores.
Monday, January 31st – We found the park and were there at 3PM and the gulls were arriving from every direction. Thousands and thousands of gulls. Quite the spectacle!
Started the day out with a trip to Ponce Inlet which is about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach. Attractions of Ponce Inlet include Florida’s tallest lighthouse and a long jetty stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean and a number of boardwalks and trails as well as a Marine Science Center.
We had started the day in Cape Canaveral, traveled to Merritt Island to revisit some of its areas of interest and then backtracked to The northern suburbs of Orlando where I played a few hours of badminton. With weather conditions once again causing uncertainty, we decided to head back out to the coast and ended up in Daytona Beach/ Daytona Beach Shores area at nightfall. Lots of glittering lights in this popular resort town but with no speedway events scheduled, getting accommodation was easy. It was interesting to see the various motorcycle dealers with all of their neon signs advertising their product. Brought back some memories of when I used to ride a small motorcycle and get passed by the larger Harleys, Indians, Triumphs, Ducatis and just about every other brand imaginable.
Another sunny day with reasonable temperatures. Began the day walking the beach in Cape Canaveral and then returned to walk the trails of Merritt Island while John did another loop on his bike. On the previous day’s visit to Merritt Island, Black Vultures and Armadillos had been the primary subjects but today I was more interested in the wading and shoreline birds.
The waters in the Merritt Island wetlands come with two distinct characters. Part are left to rise and fall with the tides and part are behind control structures that keep the water at managed levels. This results in a broad variety of habitat and plenty of wading birds. One of the sought after species is the very colourful Roseate Spoonbill. Although I saw four of these beautiful birds in flight, none came within camera range.