Myakka River State Park, the oldest state park in Florida, is an idyllic spot about ten miles east of Sarasota. The river flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pine lands. The river and its two shallow lakes attract a myriad of wetland creatures. making birding, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation popular activities. A seven mile scenic drive winds through the shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of the lake. We biked the drive, stopping every so often to admire and photograph the wildlife and vegetation.
Although we saw a variety of water birds, the park was dominated by a huge flock of vultures. They perched on the banks of the lake, taunting the alligators who were trying to bask in the sun. They even pecked at the gator's tails. In between the teasing, they swooped about riding the air currents.Those birds were huge. What did they all find to eat? We got a warning brochure, telling us that the vultures like to feast on car tires. They also pick the gaskets around the windshield until it falls into the car. The armadillos were equally cheeky. They rooted about alongside the bike path, feasting on grubs paying us no mind, no matter how close we got. We also climbed a tower to the canopy walkway. It provided great views of the epiphytes hugging the trees. This truly is a special environment.
The park has a campground with some sites big enough for the likes of us. There were canoes for rent, a tram tour was available, an airboat toured the lake. We only scratched the surface in this large park today. We just might have to come back and stay awhile.