The official raptor of Cedar Key

osprey

In Cedar Key, along Florida’s gulfside “Nature Coast,” you are never more than 50 feet away from an osprey. At least it seems that way. Fishing, nesting, defending nests from black vultures, chirping their loud whistley call, glowering down from trees at passersby. I love this bird.

Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT.

marsh house

The Marsh House, Cedar Key. Our home away from home for a few days. Perfect spot.

view

View.

I love a good marsh.

white ibis

White Ibis.

I wasn’t even unpacked (although I did have a glass of wine in my hand) before I hit the porch and spotted ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, vultures and osprey. This is a birdy place.

muir

George Washington did not visit Cedar Key, but John Muir did.

Sign outside the Cedar Key Museum State Park.

salt kettle

Confederate salt kettle outside the museum.

I picked Cedar Key for the birds, nature, seafood and warmth after a long winter. Turns out to have some cool Old Florida history too. TIMELINE.

After a tasty seafood dinner at Steamer’s Clam Bar and Grill in the vintage waterfront downtown, we drove a mile back north to our rental and walked a boardwalk over mangroves and marsh, around the edge of a big old cemetery founded in 1886. In the gathering darkness, bats fluttered above. We heard the little night noises of animals, water moving in small waves through seagrass, wind in the pines, palms and spanish-moss-draped live oaks. We spied the glow of a couple of small lights next to headstones in the cemetery. “Spirit lamps,” I whispered.

“I think there is something a little bit spooky about Cedar Key,” I said, and my husband agreed.

os

And something a little bit wild too.

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