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Crystal River and the Common Loon

February 26, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Wednesday February 24, 2021

W Fort Island Trail, Crystal River Fl is worth the trip to explore!  Pack a boat load of PATIENCE, water and bug spray.  Enjoy birding from the Ft Island Trail Park... I made a stop there coming and going.  The restrooms are clean.  Fishing from the boardwalk is popular and there is a nice covered picnic area. The bugs are already obnoxious but not as aggravating as the silver haired guy who parked his SUV, boat in tow broadside behind my F350 Dually Crew Cab.  So its not  like you can "miss" a Dually Crew Cab right?  I stroll across the parking lot camera in hand, make eye contact with the dude before climbing into my truck... I leave the drivers door open so he and his conversation buddy are sure to see I am the driver of the truck they have parked in... I start to log the birds I have seen into the Audubon app on my IPhone.... Woodpeckers, song birds, White Ibis, Brown Pelicans, Great Blue Heron... There is no movement of the SUV behind me... I fire up the Diesel and finish logging my sightings.... Osprey, Vulture, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle.... No progress in the rearview mirror.  I shut the drivers door and stow the camera safely on the passenger seat as I put the Diesel in reverse, Cut the wheel all the way and slowly start to back up... NOW the dude starts to yell but ignoring him I back up so my hitch is a few inches from the SUV and pull back forward angling as sharp as I can to the right.  These guys may have thought it was amusing to hold me hostage but with no vehicle on my left there is no holding me.  I start to back up again.  More YELLING and a horn even blows.  Wow now I have some attention but its his turn to be ignored.... I back as far as I can and pull forward again.  Couple more times and I will be backing out past the front bumper of the red SUV..... More yelling and horn blowing and the SUV speeds off spoiling my exercise. But... I don't exactly feel the closure I need... So as I pull around the lot to exit the culprit is sitting in the SUV, window down, waiting to back his boat into the water so I put my window down and stop beside him... His excuse is ready "IF I had known you wanted to leave I would have left you out!"  NOPE not good enough. With a few choice words of instruction his training session for the day is complete and I leave him to contemplate.  

Next Stop the Boat Ramp at the end of Fort Island Trail.  JACKPOT a Common Loon!  Very exciting for me as this is the goal of todays adventure.  She is a long way off and there is a lot of activity around the ramp... Folks are fishing off the boardwalk on the side of the ramp.  A few boats launching and a kayak.  Even though she teases me diving and swimming toward the boardwalk but not too close and she heads away again.  The harsh call of the Boat-tailed Grackle is everywhere, a Great Blue Heron is fishing near the ramp and both Brown and White Pelican are seen on the water.

The Roger Batchelor Pier winding thru the woods and over the water offers both covered and open picnic areas along the way.  BINGO Another Common Loon is diving off the end of the Pier!  Again not too close but a few photos and exciting to watch.  All the typical water birds can been seen.  As the Pelican fly by they may actually be below the Pier providing a different photo perspective.  A branch of the Pier even goes over to the beach.  

The Ft Island Trail Beach not to be overlooked!  In the morning the beach was not crowded.  I explore several of the trails along the water line. Small sand crabs keep a watchful eye on me from holes they bore in along the water line. The water birds are plentiful.  Laughing Gull and Sanderling are busy on the beach, Willet and Ruddy Turnstone are nearby. The beach is getting more populated but this does not keep the Black Skimmer away. I walk another tail on my way back to town.

The historical square in Crystal River offers unique stores and eatery.  I stop at the Tea House.  Its the second time I have been there.  So obviously it was good the first time or I would not have returned ... The internet says they close at 5pm.  Its almost 3 so I should have plenty of time to enjoy a late lunch on the porch Right?  I manage to score a parking spot in the lot behind the restaurant.  There is one table occupied on the back deck... one on the front porch... I walk inside to get the attention of a server or hostess... I see FIVE staff members but non of them can see me which makes sense because the entire dinning room and bar are completely vacant so they are soooo busy I have to be understanding of the stress they are under... I wait, walk around, and wait some more before deciding to seat myself on the porch.  I brought a good book so I choose a seat than think maybe I am being inconsiderate taking a table with 4 seats so I move to a two seater... A waitress came out to check on the other table but still doesn't see me.  Later a hostess comes out and asks me if I would like a menu and tells me someone will be with me in a minute.  Meanwhile I see they have a chalk board by the door which says they close at 4:00 and the kitchen closes at 3:30.  Finally at 3:15 I place my order for an appetizer, Avocado toast and beverage which arrives approx 10 mins later.  I am enjoying another chapter of "Cross Creek".  3:40 Yummy Avacado toast is gone and I set the plate to the side.  I continue reading and sipping... A young bus boy comes out asking if he can take the dishes. Of course... but first thing he does is reach in front of me and grab my glass!  It may have been my "look" I cant be sure the cause but he freezes instantly as if unable to decide what to do with the half full glass... so I take it out of his hand.  Apologizing he tells me they close at 4:00 and takes the other dishes away.  Maybe 5 minutes later the waitress who could not see me earlier when she checked on the table of 3 sticks her head out the door "I wanted to let you know we close at 4"  With a look but not a word I rise from the table, book under my arm, glass in hand I walk into the cash register.  The young man apparently on his way back outside for my glass passes me and takes the now empty glass from my hand.  She does not have a bill prepared.  She asks me what I had and the first item rings up 3$ higher than the menu.  I inform her.  Another sign says "Cash Tips Only" but it doesn't matter.  The card reader "has been giving them trouble all day" and after three tries I use a different card and walk out the door.  

On the way home I detour to check out the Bird Creek Park Boat Ramp on Hwy 40, Yankeetown FL.  Another promising spot... bring your bug spray. Picnic area, porta-pots, a small beach.  Lots of water birds and more Osprey. Fisherman are casting off the side of the road and boats are coming and going but its not so busy as to have a line waiting at the ramp.  I think we will take the Pontoon here soon.  

Back to Highway 19 I think I will get some Diesel... I pull into the corner station and wait my turn to get to the diesel pump.... Card readers are not functioning... try the card a couple times before heading inside.... Nobody waiting at either cash register but I am STILL INVISIABLE but my keen senses tell me I do not want to tangle with this toothless lady and her half eaten sandwich!  I spy the restroom and make a quick pitstop before trying my chances with the attendant.  Now a lady is in front of my with a fountain soda trying to buy some cigarettes.  Even with instructions form the attendant "Whoa Whoa Whoa I am NOT ready, I am not near ready" This takes her more than three tries to repeat her order and begin the payment process.  Just as I get the opportunity to step up to the register another silver haired man comes in the door broadcasting "Whose White Truck is this?"  OH NO YOU DID NOT HIT MY TRUCK!  I raise my hand as I communicate to the attendant my pump # and $50.  The man impatiently demands that I move my truck!  I respond that I am trying and it will be a minute.  The Attendant barks at him "It will be more than a minute mister!"  

HA!  I knew my instincts were dead on not to cross the attendant.  I bet his card didn't work either and wanna bet it took Mister longer to get his prepay processed than it took me to get my fuel paid for?  

Fun day birding. Now if only I can adapt to the southern rhythm of time...


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