November 23, 2015 – Crane Point

Our first outing of the day was to the dentist to get our cleanings.  I have had some terrible sensitivity for the past few months and Dr. Kiefer found a crack in a tooth.  He says I need a crown.  It could turn into a root canal too. Really, it hurts the purse more than the mouth.

I spent the rest of the morning studying Extended Warranties for the motorhome.  Here’s the thing: reading insurance-type documents makes my eyes snap shut. And the price of the policy is enough to take my breath away. Andy took me out of my misery by suggesting we go to Sombrero Beach to eat our lunch and then Crane Point for our walk.  He didn’t have to ask me twice.

After several weeks of rain, heat, and high humidity, today was spectacular. We got our favorite picnic table at the beach.

b Our Picnic Pavilion

I spotted this Great White Egret as we were walking back to the car after we ate.  It was at the same spot as the Little Blue Heron the other day.

b Great White Egret

Since I was on the pier in Sister Creek, I turned and took a picture aimed out at the ocean. That’s our favorite picnic pavilion on the left.

b Sister's Creek

Crane Point Museum and Nature Center is a 63-acre preserve and one of my favorite places to walk.

b Crane Point Museum

We walked out Crane Road to Crane Point.

b Crane Road

I love the Florida Thatch Palm leaves and take more pictures of them than anything else when we walk around Crane Point. The leaves are a couple feet across.

b Florida Thatch Palm

And, I always get a close up.

b Florida Thatch Palm Closeup

The trees were loaded.  I’m pretty sure these are Pigeon Plums although they don’t match all the pictures on Google Images. They are closely related to Sea Grapes and the fruit is an important source of food for migrating birds.

b Pigeon Plums

Porous limestone is what is under our feet in much of the Florida keys.  Treacherous.

b Limestone

b Orange Flower

b Orange Flowers

Crane Point is named for Francis and Mary Crane who built this house in 1949. It is in poor condition and not open to visitors.

b Crane House

I found these mangrove blossoms out at Crane Point. They are very small and you have to look for them.

b Mangrove Blossoms

We stopped in the Wild Bird Center, for injured birds.  Some are healed and released and a good many of them are permanent residents, like this tiny  burrowing owl.  I don’t know how it is possible, but they can burrow tunnels through that limestone.

b Burrowing Owl

There is always a pelican sitting just like this on this perch.  I think it is the same one.

b Sleeping Pelican

Here is a bird that I don’t recall seeing before. It looks as though his eye is in his beak. I can’t find it in my bird books or on line. Anybody know what it is?

b Herring Gull

This is the Adderly House, the oldest house in the keys, outside of Key West. Built in 1903 by Bahamian George Adderly, the house is crumbling.  The woman in the picture is doing some preservation on the tabby.

b Adderly House Touch Up

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Crane Point Nature Center

It was another beautiful day in paradise. We ate breakfast outside, in our screen room.  We had our annual checkups at noon with Dr. O’Connor. Then we took a real walk in the Crane Point Nature Center. Our first stop was the room with the orientation film to see how nice the room looks with the huge turtle shells mounted on the wall. The walls behind the screen have been painted with leaves.

Then we went to the cracker house to see the new/old shell exhibit.  Neighbors Sue and Mac have been working on it for months.  I’m not sure of the actual division of labor, but think Sue cleaned up the shells in the old exhibit and made new labels. There are a lot of shells in the collection and she looked them up to verify that they were all labeled correctly.  Maybe Mac built the new shadow boxes.  Sue also arranged some of the shells on sand in a jewelry case. In addition to the shells, she made an exhibit of sea beans that may have been her own collection.

We are so impressed with the job they did! It was a lot of work and they did a beautiful job. Here is most of the exhibit. A local artist painted the underwater scene on the front of the case. I love the waves in the back of the case behind the sand. I remember Sue and Mac talking about the job of putting the lights in the case.  They look great.

Sumac Shell Display

Here is a slightly close look of the case and the shells.

Shell Case Closer Up

I did not get a single picture of a shadow box of shells that doesn’t have reflections on it.  Maybe this one will give you an idea of how cool it is.

Sumac Shadow Box

And, here is Sue’s sea bean collection mounted on a fabric map of the world.  Where did she get that map?  She is so clever and artistic.  So is Mac.

Sumac Sea Bean Display

After ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the display, we took our usual walk around Crane Point.  We were delighted to see the Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom.

s Cactus Blooms

 

s Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

I took a few pictures of the Crane House, which was started in 1954.  It is rather run down and not open to visitors.

s Crane House Back

We walked around to the water side where there is a picture of that side of the house. It had open water views on both sides. The pool is sea water that comes in a narrow opening.

s Crane House

But, now the pool is being taken over by mangroves and the house is obscured.

s Swimming Pool

There were plenty of spiders hanging about.  This is the first one we encountered.  She is a beautiful Golden Orb Weaver.

s Golden Orb Weaver

We saw some kayakers out at the point.  They paddled under the bridge and on east across wide water.

s Kayaks

We stopped at the wild bird hospital.  A few years ago, boating buddies Martin and Betsy bought a picture of a cormorant.  The striking feature was the eye.  I’ve been trying ever since to get a picture of one too.  This cormorant was sitting right next to front of the cage, at my camera height.  I didn’t get the picture I was going for, but I did get a good eye. Isn’t it amazing?

s Cormorant

I was inspired by my eye picture and took a few more in the bird hospital.

s Hawk Eye

s Merlin

s Pelican Eye

 

s Red Shouldered Hawk

We headed back toward the museum and passed the osprey nest atop a tall pole.  As we approached, one of the adults took flight, hovering and squawking.  The one left on the nest glared at us.

s Osprey Watching Me

This road back to the museum is a tunnel through the trees.  There are plenty of spider webs and spiders along there.
s Tunnel Through Trees