There was no “yellow brick road” at the SPI Birding and Nature Center. But, a sunbleached plank road crossed the marsh and took us to a lagoon. During the walk, we took advantage of the “bird blinds” – sheltered areas with photos and information posted on display boards that tell you about the birds you may observe in that area of the trail.
You can see the self-guided tour route from the birding center’s tower (left). The pathway veered off to the right at the shoreline and meandered its way through the sanctuary. It covers a lot of ground, 1500 feet, they said. It seemed like more because we walked against the winds some of the time. The Artic Winds from the North that somehow followed me here.
Because it was windy and cold, we decided to check out the Nature Center. It was right across the street from our Hotel. We had no clue there was marshland so close. From the road, you could not see the trail or a bunch of birds flying around. Or any alligators.
You first pass the Alligator Sanctuary as you start out on the trail. A 50-year old Alligator named Big Padre is massive. We did see him, but he was mostly under foliage, so there were no photos of him. The guide told us that all the alligators, from babies to adults, have been rescued from other places, like backyards, roadsides, and homes. So now, these HUGE reptiles can live a life of luxury in a protected, muddy swampland. I guess this was the Hilton of alligator habitats. I was sort of ashamed of all my complaining about the Hilton we were in. I do not take it back, however.
We learned all kinds of interesting facts (that I cannot recall now), and we had a good look at some really cool birds. For example, we saw a couple of Blue Heron’s that were a lot larger than I pictured. Also, there are a couple of pelicans in the air on patrol for fish, the others standing in the pond fishing.
I’m sure that my kids and grandkids are thinking, “how lame!” But it wasn’t to us. Because, the basic truth is we have fun together, no matter where or what. So…, I am already scheming for this summer’s adventure. Somewhere very warm, with hotels without air conditioning.
Suggestions are welcome in the comments, BTW.