Saturday, December 6, 2008

Florida Trip - Day 1 & 2

After having canceled two vacations this year, mainly due to the poor economy, we finally decided we could afford to get away for a few days and decided to drive to Florida and back, with no set itinerary.

Day 1, December 5, 2008
We left this morning at 7 a.m., with the temperature at 19 degrees. Today was mainly a travel day, so we didn't see too many birds other than the common roadside species including Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, American Crows, European Starlings, and of course Rock Pigeons. Once we crossed into Kentucky, we soon saw a couple of Black Vultures, and the first Loggerhead Shrike of the trip was near Sonora on the way to Louisville, where we stopped for gas. Thanks to driving a hybrid, we only used $14 worth of gas to drive from Detroit to Louisville. We also started seeing what I consider a sure sign of being in "the south", evergreen balls of mistletoe in the trees. We drove south from Louisville and got a room in Cave City, then went into Mammoth Cave National Park. We asked about tours for tomorrow, and also asked about salamanders. One helpful park person suggested we walk to the Three Springs area where there was flowing water out of a hillside, where hopefully there would be Spring Salamanders. No luck. The temperature never went above 32 today.

Day 2, December 6, 2008
We drove around in Mammoth Cave National Park for a while before our tour started at 10:15, with the best bird seen being the flock of about 15 Wild Turkeys. We decided to take a 2-hour tour that would optimize the time we had available with seeing the most formations. Photography was difficult in the dim light, but I did manage a few decent photos. One of these is below.

Nancy and I like caves because of the formations, but also because of the various creatures that can be seen inside, including some of our favorites, salamanders. This time, we were lucky enough to see a single spider, and Cave Crickets, which really looked more like brown, blind, katydids.

After lunch, we continued driving south, through Tennessee and into Alabama, where we stopped near Montgomery for the night. Temperatures are warming up, as we started at 28 and ended at about 45.

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