Fine Dining, just what is the definition of Fine Dining? Is it the food, the surroundings or the presentation, I guess it all depends on whom you ask. My philosophy is simple, fill the belly and move on. With my diabetes and food allergies, I'm just not into experimenting or trying new things with food. Makes you think about the way of nature, what do birds and animals consider Fine Dining?
When Bill, Sissy & I were heading to visit with Keith & Kris at Myakka State Park we traveled thru Florida cattle country. This is one of the few areas that the unusual Crested Caracara lives. Bill & Sissy had seen one once before while traveling in this area so Bill was on the lookout for one for me. Sure enough, he spotted one on the side of the road, I didn't see it but he turned around and went back for me. There sitting on a fence post was the odd looking Crested Caracara!
The bird is from Mexico and considered a threatened/endangered species in Florida so this was a very good sighting for me. They are large birds with huge yellow chicken-like feet and he looks like he is wearing a black toupee. They are like Vultures and eat roadkill or other dead carrion they can find. The bird sat patiently on the fence post for a few pictures only because he was guarding a recent road kill that he didn't want me to eat. Yuk, umm Fine Dining? I think not!
When we were looking for the Rosette Spoonbills in Myakka State Park with Keith & Kris we stopped along a bridge to scan the wetlands. There were a few people there fishing and of course the Alligators as well. There were a couple of good sized ones there and I watched one rolling and splashing in the water and wondered what he might be eating. There are signs posted everywhere warning people to not feed the Alligators. I wondered if a more appropriate sign would have been warning people of “No Swimming” allowed? But perhaps the bridge is a Fine Dining spot for the gators. To each his own.
Keith took us off the beaten path to a back wetlands area that he had seen Rosette Spoonbills at before. We could see a large flock of Vultures and as we got closer we could see why they were all hanging around. They were crowded around a dead animal, some were sitting on top of it. It was hard to even tell what the animal was there were so many Vultures surrounding it, and they were making this awful grunting sound. The Vultures were pecking and pulling at the animal, Keith said he could make out a snout and figured it was a wild hog. I watched as the Vultures pulled at its hind quarter causing the animal's leg to jerk skyward. I considered going back to the car for my camera but I'm not sure if it was the heat, low blood sugar or the grotesque scene before me but I was feeling woozy. It was time to move on. Fine Dining? I don't know, that’s a long stretch in my opinion.
After an enjoyable day of birding at Mayaka State Park, we all decided to head to Venis Beach Jetty for a picnic dinner. After a quick stop at the deli for sandwiches, we were on our way. The jetty is one of Sissy & Bills favorite picnic places and I can sure see why. The water is beautiful and at times we have been there and watched as a dolphin or two would glide past. It was crowded but Bill found a nice parking space along the end of the jetty with a picnic table free. Unfortunately, the weather had taken on a cold chill, well Floridian cold the temp was in the 60s, and the wind had picked up. But that wasn't going to stop us, we still sat outside and enjoyed our sandwiches and watched the goings on of the birds, boats, and people. It was a nice end to a nice day. Fine Dining? Well yes, it was!
Here in New England, it seems like Old Man Winter is never going to loosen his grip on us but we know Spring will be here sooner or later. But as I sit at my kitchen table and eat my dinner looking at the snow covered ground and barren trees it seems very far away indeed. But I can look at the picture of the beautiful sunset we enjoyed along Sanibel Causeway while eating our picnic dinner, close my eyes and imagine I am in paradise. I have to again thank Bill & Sissy for their hospitality, if it wasn't for your opening arms I wouldn't be able to enjoy a vacation in Florida each February. And it was an added bonus to get to spend time with Keith & Kris! I'd like to make my reservation for the same time the same place next year for more Fine Dining, please.
Happy Birding, Jane