BAREFOOT BEACH RESERVE
Following a well needed sleep after a lengthy (though enjoyable) travelling period, we were ready to embrace our first full day in Florida, whilst fending off jet lag!
Meeting at 8am, lathered in sun cream and covered in protective gear, filling two buses we eagerly headed off to The Barefoot Beach Reserve. The drastic temperature increase was a delight, the sun was beaming down blissfully. Although it felt odd to be wearing minimal layers after succumbing to Bangor’s identifiable declining temperatures.
We had a scheduled talk from Jimmie Trulock – an (extremely knowledgeable) ex park ranger at The Everglades and a current volunteer at the reserve. And Florida’s Master Naturalist.
Jimmie kindly guided us around the reserve, showing us an array of beautiful fauna and tree species, aswell as telling us about their histories and their uses. Ie: some trees being used for pharmaceutical purposes. The talk was super interesting and Jimmie displayed a strong passion for nature and his work, which we made notes about in preparation for our assessed blog posts.
We were blessed to see animals freely inhabiting their natural environments, some of which included stunning gopher tortoises, brown anoles, raccoons and feeding pelicans.
We then had another lecture, listening to another naturalist talking about sound pollution, the different types of sound and the ways in which we can be kinder to our senses.
Following a few insightful hours at the reserve, we had 3/4 of an hour free time to roam around the reserve as we pleased. The majority of us headed to the beach, captivated by the stunning, soft, white sand and the dashingly beautiful blue water. We swam, splashed, and experienced animals feeding naturally – and peering for fish, whilst laughing lots and creating wonderful new memories.
Canoe time! We paired up and ventured out on the canoes, it was my first time canoeing so I was a little rusty; I soon grasped the concept of manoeuvring around the peaceful reserve, after frightening Carla a handful of times with my unpredictable steering methods (oops!) and it turned out to be a pleasurable experience, navigating around mangroves and embracing our surroundings.
Rowing our way eagerly around the calm waters, we witnessed gorgeous dolphins (my favourite marine mammal!) swimming both elegantly and closely to our canoes. The experience was incredible, it felt magical and captivating – to say the least. We also saw a number of magnificent bird and fish species, boats, and bubbly Americans.
Our accommodation gratefully has a pool, which we all went in afterwards for a swim and a cool down, before a debriefing about the day we’d experienced and the plans for the upcoming day. It was incredible to spend a day with wonderful people who share my passions and my admiration of animals, whilst experiencing new things and visiting new places!
SPECIES LIST OF THE DAY
- Gopher tortoise
- Brown anole
- Red breasted woodpecker
- Cuban tree frog
- Ant lion