Swallow-Tailed Kite

Southwest Florida relishes in the migration of Swallow-tailed kites from South America.  They come to this area to breed around February-March and by the end of summer (August-September) head back.  They are a bird of prey with a forked tail that is easy to distinguish.  They appear to be suspended motionless in the air and glide, roll and occasionally flap their wings.

They nest in tall trees in the open woodlands and prefer tall trees (pine or cypress).  The diet on flying insects, frogs, lizards and other birds. Typically two eggs are laid with the female staying with them up into the first three weeks of hatching and then will take turns with the male seeking food and bringing it back for their young.  The young take flight in about 5 to 6 weeks following their birth.

We have seen several of these magnificent raptors, remember to look up!


Sunsets in Southwest Florida

Sunsets in southwest Florida are fantastic and something to behold…. on the M/V River Queen, we enjoy the leisurely ride along the Caloosahatchee, admiring nature, enjoying a story or two.  Recently, a nice group of folks joined us for a Saturday evening trip, they brought their own beverages on board and we surprised them with a few items to munch on.  The sunset as you can see in the photo’s didn’t disappoint and the birds flocked to the mangrove island and provided a spectacular show as well.  If you’d like to join us, give us a call, 239-693-1434.

Manatee Education

The Captain and I delight in sharing the knowledge we have obtained over the years about the Manatee, southwest Florida, the Caloosahatchee and Orange Rivers.  What makes us unique as a tour boat business is the importance we place on providing an education to our guests, and of course, seeing a manatee as they migrate here when the water temperature turns colder in the Gulf of Mexico is neat too!  We never know what we are going to see or experience on our trips which makes it even more fun!

This year, we have added additional crew members to help provide the education.  Two are current students at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and have an enthusiasm to share.  Our third new crew member is also formerly with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and he too is excited to share his knowledge!  We are working on ways to enhance the ECO TOURS that are offered once the manatee move out of the area.  So check back with us as our curricula grows!

The weather has warmed up significantly over the past few days… and most people visiting southwest Florida are really happy about that!  I love the sunshine and warmth myself.. however, the double-edged sword is when you operate a “MANATEE” tour business… and the manatee have moved out of the area… it is disappointing for us and for YOU our guests.  🙁  Good for the manatee, to have a food source to rely on in Pine Island Sound… sad for us because our tours operate in/around the Caloosahatchee and Orange River.  So if anyone hears me say I’m praying for cold temperatures at night and for the Gulf waters to drop and stay below 70 degrees… you’ll understand why!!

Manatee Tours

As the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico cools to below 70 degrees, the manatees start to move into warmer waters.  It is still early in the season, however, we are seeing manatees!!  And they are so sweet.  Little noses come up to the surface, nostrils open and they take a deep breath and then go about their merry way.  On Christmas Day, 2017, Captain John and I took the day off from touring and headed out in his personal vessel along with our two dogs, “Bella” and “Tiller” (Labradoodles).  And where did we go?  In search of manatees of course!  A very lovely day, relaxing and full of positive experiences with these gentle giants.  Tours are underway again and observations were plentiful.  Although we don’t have hundreds in the waterway yet… we are enjoying those we see!  Come join us.

-Kathy Cookman

Manatee Nose

Manatee Tail

Manatee at surface, note the propeller scars

Manatee “footprint”

“Bella” watching for manatees

“Tiller” watching us

Manatee Greeting

Sweetwater Landing Marina Construction


If you’ve been out with us before, you probably remember the parking lot near the bathrooms.  This is an aerial view of “SOME” of the construction that has been going on at Sweetwater Landing Marina!  Progress is being made despite the rainy season, hurricane Irma, etc.  We are excited to have the M/V River Queen back in the water and ready to resume river tours!  Right now the water is still pretty warm and a “few” manatee’s have been seen in the Orange River.  We will be offering Eco River Tours after Thanksgiving and as the Gulf of Mexico waters cool to below 70 degrees and the outside air temperature begins to drop, the manatee’s will migrate into the area and Manatee Tours will begin!  In the meantime, check out a few of the pictures showing the changes!  We are really excited for Brandon and the crew at Sweetwater as well as our guests who join us for excursions.  The new parking lot is scheduled to be paved on November 20, 2017 making parking available soon.


Sweetwater Landing – Boater’s Lounge/Owner’s Residence  


Bathroom/Shower demo

Parking lot torn up, boater’s lounge underway

Boater’s Lounge/Owner’s Residence

Boater’s Lounge/Owner’s Residence










Foundation for additional boat storage building

Additional boat storage building underway!

Clearing the way for a restaurant, etc.















Restaurant construction

Restaurant picture

Site plan