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Calusa Backwater Adventures With Calusa John - April 2009

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On: Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:37AM | By: John Paeno

Here we are again, with spring coming in. Last year at this time we were just starting to get into the Bull Redfish in the flats. I wish I could say the same this year, but I have not had a chance to get out for pleasure fishing yet. People have been coming in from all over the country just to kayak Pine Island. We have been kayaking and camping all over the area when the weather was warm and we hunkered down when the cold fronts came through. The Cowboy and I were at the “Taste of Pine Island”; Patty and the Kiwanis really put on a great event. With the Cowboy as MC, we both told stories to the thousands of people who came to the event. We also did the Burrowing Owl Festival in Cape Coral reaching thousands of eco-conscious children and adults. The same day we had a kayak and the RRC Calusa Heritage Trail Day. It has been a little chilly at night for stargazing, but, of course, that does not stop the Cowboy and me from pulling the lawn chairs out back by the pond and picking the constellations out.

We have developed some great stories from ancient mythology about the stars and how they got there and how they got their names. In the colder weather we have been doing a lot of walks on the Calusa Indian Mound site. Walking the site of the lost civilization of the Calusa on Pine Island is fun, and pretty well protected from the winds. This site was the Calusa city of Tampo (later known as Tampa and mistakenly located 90 miles north of here on Spanish maps after 1513) in 1513 and had an estimated 750-1000 people living there. People have been entertained on the recent walks by the young ospreys leaving the nest located next to the trail. I have to say it is not just the wilderness walks where you see neat wildlife. We were at the Pine Island Chamber Expo (3/7/09) and I got some great video of a pileated woodpecker in the palm right next to me. They are the largest American woodpecker. We have been telling stories on the Creative Gulf Coast Weekends out at the Cracker Cafe in Bokeelia. They have a sweet little set up out there. You can eat in the restaurant and then go outside in the garden area and enjoy live entertainment (from music to stories). Pappy Player was out there for the February event. Of course, we have been on the water, too.

We took out a journalist from Ohio that was writing a story on destinations. While we were out we came across the one hundred-plus wading birds and pelicans in one of the back flats. It was humbling to see. I motioned to the journalist to come over to me quietly so she could get a good view. We sat there in the yaks about 150 yards away and watched this spectacular sight. Dozens of roseate spoonbills waded and flew around. For a moment there I could get a feeling of what this area must have once been like. The journalist had a great time and I expect she will write about us. But the important thing here to remember is that the wading bird is an indicator species and, from what we saw, it is a good sign of a wading bird recovery in progress (let’s hope). Until next time. John Paeno is owner/operator of Calusa Ghost Tours and co-owner of Calusa Backwater Adventures. He also is a staff writer for the Nautical Mile Magazine of Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties. search Calusa John 239-541-2532


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