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Florida west coast, here I come. Tips?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Richard Peters, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. Hey everyone, this time tomorrow I shall be on a plane heading away from rainy old England and on my way to sunny (well, hurricany) Florida.

    I'm there for 12 days and staying in the West Palm Beach area with a visit to the Everglades and also Key West (deepnding on the weather). So, if anyone knows the area well and has any last minute suggestions for places to check out for wildlife/scenics etc then I'm all ears :) 
  2. You need to team up with HarryB and Slingher and Flygirl at the Viera Wetlands. Send them PM,s
  3. Toby D

    Toby D

    Mar 7, 2006
    Sanibel for Ding Darling NWR (and Sanibel is pretty nice, I've met several Brits(Well, Welshmen) there), Ft Meyers is pretty cool, too. Siesta Key, just because it is so wonderful a beach. In Sarasota is Ca' d'Zan Mansion and museum. This was the home of John Ringling, last of the Circus Bros. A beautiful mansion, art museum and circus museum. Don't miss it if you have the time.

    Sounds like you're on the East Coast. A must see is Miami's South Beach for Art Deco hotels and street/beach scenes.


    Homasassa Springs for the Manatee's.


    Another GBH can't find his Buick on Siesta Key.
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    Ding Darling, Sanibel
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  4. Thanks for the tips :) 

    I sent those memebrs a PM also, thanks for the suggestion!
  5. rmi1


    Jan 14, 2008
    Western Hemisphere
    Naples pier may work for some pelican pictures

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    it also works well for sunsets.
  6. wembley


    Mar 26, 2006
    Naples, Fl

    West Palm Beach is actually on the East coast!
    And it will be much wetter than England. Its the rainy season here and Hurricane Hanna is going to add to the rainfall totals later this week.

    I'm a Brit on the West Coast (look at the my forum name) and the best advice i can give you is this.

    1: sunblock
    2: bug spray
    3: more sun block
    4: more bug spray

    Oh and when you leave rainy England don't be wearing jeans and a jacket cause although the airport will be a nice 70 degree (sorry can't remember what that is in centigrade) and it'll be stormy outside when you land in Fl, as soon as those automatic doors open the humidity will hit you like a brick wall.

    Anyway, rainy season means not too much in the way of waterbirds but tons of mosquito's. For Birds check out the Florida birding trail http://floridabirdingtrail.com/birdlinks.htm or this site http://www.floridasmart.com/subjects/animals_birds_fl.htm
    lots of chances for Ospreys and hawks. Find a local baseball/soccer complex and look for nests on the top of floodlights. if you do some research on the birding trail you'll find swallow tail and snail kites. (btw love your red kite on your website)

    Was just in Key West. Rent a moped and head to the beaches on the south of the island towards the airport for nice white sand, aqua water and lone palms on the beach. Very tropical. Ft Zachary Taylor state Park is supposed to be very good for things like frigatebirds, and if your there for a few days then a boat trip to the Dry Tortugas to eithe snorkel or check out birdlife is probably worth it. In KW itself, there's lots of nitelife and tourist places but visit Mallory square around sunset for good candid opportunities and lots of street acts.

    if you want to give me a buzz pm me. Enjoy your trip.

  7. LindaZ


    Jul 29, 2007
    Wilmington, NC
    An umbrella? lol Good luck and have fun
  8. While on the West Coast, if you enjoy birds, you should have a look at Venice Rookery (google it) between Ft. Meyer and Sarasota. If you like eagles, the best place to see them is (don't laugh) at the Sarasota County landfill - a polite word for dump. No kidding - just drive to the area where they are currently dumping and you will see MANY bald eagles and all other sorts of birds. Main draw is the eagles though. Smell is not particularly pleasant, but you do get to shoot the birds. Just try to stay upwind and watch your backgrounds. It is literally right off of the I-75 main north/south interstate in the lower part of Sarasota County.

    Another very interesting way to spend several hours, especially if you are in the Naples/Sanibel area, is Corkscrew Swamp. A very easy couple of mile, flat hike on a boardwalk through a swamp with opportunity to see just about everything south florida has to offer in the way of wildlife. Highly recommended as is Ding Darling that someone mentioned earlier. Bring photo gear, all the glass that you can carry and binocs. Tripod is almost a necessity since you are often under the canopy and lighting can be dim.

    At Ding - I strongly recommend first thing in the morning or last thing in the late afternoon. Midday there is pretty much a bust, as is often the case with wildlife and, even if you do spot something, the lighting will be awful.

    Sun screen is a VERY GOOD IDEA this time of year, but beware that DEET, the active ingredient in most sunscreens, can wreak havoc with plastic. If you have it on your hands and handle your camera - beware. Likewise, if it is on your cheek and your cheek is pressing against the LCD cover on your slr back etc - it will melt. Yes, you need the sunscreen (and if does not have DEET in it, don't waste your time or money), but you need to exercise extreme caution around cameras, Ipods, laptops, etc. And don't fall for the local "tip" to use Avon Skin-so-Soft lotion as a mosquito repellant, unless you have a large supply of cortisone cream to smear on your itchy bites later that evening. On a serious note, having a tube of over the counter cortisone is a very good idea since, no matter what precautions you take, if the sun is out you will get bitten. (Cortisone also works on fire ant bites also - be careful walking in inland, non-beach sand or in sandy grass areas off of the paved paths. Fire ants nest in the sand and if you inadvertently put a foot into a nest, it will hurt - like crazy.)

    South Florida is, after all, a giant sandbar and swamp and the weather now is hot, muggy, rainy (potentially torrentially so) and downright uncomfortable. Be prepared for it. I imagine that the south Florida Chamber of Commerce would not be pleased with all of the dire sounding warnings.....but you really do know that these problems exist there this time of year.

    Oh - one last thing. I have a home in Sarasota (no- I never go there between Aug and October for all of the above reasons) and I find C'azador (the Ringling home) to be a bore. My apologizes to the earlier poster who recommended it, but my taste does not run toward the time lien of the famous art collection Ringling amassed there; if I take guests there, I walk the grounds which are spectacular and free to the public, but I seldom pay the admission and enter the house itself. If you enjoy touring mansions with pre - impressionist art, it might be your cup of tea, but do some investigating first.

    Notwithstanding the horrible sounding warnings that I have sounded - Florida has much to offer the tourist, even this time of year. The scenics are beautiful beyond words and the fish (the ones you dine on) are spectacularly fresh and tasty. Be sure to sample the grouper, snapper and pompano on the menus. Just order it plain grilled or pan sauteed and you will be delighted.

    Hope this helps and does not frighten you away.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2008
  9. Bolts


    May 7, 2007
    Tampa, Florida
    I'm going to jump in here and back up Rick...

    Neutrogena makes sunblock ranging from 30 to 85 (Neutrogena Ultra Dry-Touch). Buy the 85, slather it on BEFORE you get dressed to ALL exposed skin, wait for it to dry while you brush your teeth, and then get dressed. Don't forget your ears.
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