We had an early start to get to Punta Gorda and board one of the Kingfisher fleet of boats for a 3 1/2 hour trip up river and into the interior of Florida. Near the coast the river is lined with huge properties, many of them 3 floors with the bottom floor being mainly as a precaution to storm surge and not used as a living area. They almost all had boat docks with big speedboats in them - how the other half live!
Further inland the buildings disappeared and gave way to mangrove and needle grass swamp and that was when we started to see a bit more wildlife. We saw 2 rookeries, islands where birds congregated to nest. Interestingly there were several different types of birds at each of them. Wood stork, Great White Egret, Snowy egret, Cormorant and several types of heron.
The furthest point of our trip was at Liverpool, or what is left of it. It was founded in 1856 when a Liverpudlian found phosphates in the area and built a dock to ship them from,a small town grew up round the dock and he named it Liverpool. There is not much left now - just a few pilings along the river bank.
We also spotted a couple of alligators lurking in the water but they were quite a distance from the boat and disappeared quickly.
When we got back to the dock this man was cleaning his catch and the Egrets were waiting to be fed. It was fascinating to watch as the birds seemed to know which bits they shouldn't touch but to wait for him to give them the bits he was discarding. He had a pile of fillets to his right which were totally ignored by the birds.
Finally we couldn't not include this picture of a flame tree in full bloom. We were quite surprised to see them in Florida but there are lots around and this is probably the best we have seen.