Picking up Groceries

For most people a “run to the grocery” means hopping in the car, driving down the street to Publix or Costco for a quick shop. It only takes a few minutes and then you are back home. Unless you have been cooped up like chickens for 7 weeks because a nasty germ has invaded the planet killing people living in all parts of the globe, some in your own back yard.

Caracaa Juvenile and Mom at the store

Friday afternoon felt like these chickens needed a break so the rooster and hen of this coop decided to go to the store. We needed fresh produce, CORN!!!

It’s corn season in South Florida, it’s being harvested by the 1000s of acres and it’s real good people corn. Every year about this time this corn-a-holic rooster and hen seek fresh corn, by the bushel. Fresh corn to us is that special yellow and white spiral corn that’s raised all over South Florida and is prime to the taste within a day or so after picking before it’s even been refrigerated.

Juvenile Caracara taking a moment to notice my presence

Road trip #1 after quarantine was planned. It’s a trip to the grocery store in Immokalee, a 2 hour road trip for some necessities, CORN! It’s impossible to even consider an excursion like this without a camera, a really good camera because, historically, we often see some very nice wildlife. We even get the opportunity to drive through the Florida Panther refuge where, one of these days, we’ll actually see a Florida Panther.

CaraCara Juvenile is excited over seeing mom

The trip to the market, close to Fort Myers was uneventful. Once we shopped we headed for home, and that took 4 hours. We encountered several groups of very neat SoFl birds.

This Red Shouldered Hawk streaked past the window and landed in a tree next to the road.

They must have been a mated pair, they stayed close together for the entire time we watched and photographed. The lower one looks a little smaller so we expect he’s the male. He was very actively looking for food and calling his mate whenever he flew off.

Along with this pair we saw many other hawks in trees and hunting in the fields we drove past. We were on Seminole Indian reservation and for those that don’t know, you HAVE to drive the speed limit because they are fairly tough on speeders. I’ve learned that Native Americans tend to be more sensitive to nature than us non-native humans so they want people to drive slower to avoid killing the local wildlife. I appreciate that because it gives us a chance to see and photograph some really cool birds on the ground in the road around traffic.

Crested Caracaras used to be plentiful with a range from South Florida north around the panhandle. They existed in fair numbers around the Gulf of Mexico all the way down into Mexico. Now we only see them from SW Florida north to Central Florida and they are totally gone from the Panhandle through LA, AL, MS then show up again down in Texas.

At one point in the journey a Caracara was flying with us on the driver’s side so Jo could watch him out the window fly at eye level as she drove.

These are striking birds in the falcon family, they are almost as large as a Bald Eagle. We often see Eagles, Caras, and Vultures eating from the same road kill or field carcass and the size is similar. I’ve seen them flying with Bald Eagles and their wingspan is slightly smaller but less than I imagined. If you would like more information about the Crested Caracara click this All about birds link.

Another super bird species to watch this time of the year is the Swallow-tailed Kite. They have returned from their South American home and migrate through this area in large numbers. Some choose to stay because there is plenty of food for them here. For more info on Swallow-tail Kites click the link.

For the first outing after quarantine this wasn’t so bad. Plus we were able to pick up 2 bushels of corn, 3 watermelons, one a legacy seeded, a couple pounds of green beans, and other veg. We accomplished two missions in one trip, 1- get food, 2- stay sane.

The next time you go to the grocery store be sure to take a camera with a really big lens.

2020 Jon-Mark

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