A first visit to Bok Tower Gardens – Skywatch Friday

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The bell tower building contains 60 bells and was finished in 1929.

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Looking straight up, it’s pretty tall.

DSC_7047The details in the openings at the top have different birds. The gardens started out as a bird sanctuary by Edward Bok. The 30 year editor of the Ladies Home Journal magazine would spend his winters in Lake Wales and developed the gardens with the help of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr ( his dad developed Central Park and Prospect Park in New York) and many others.

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The door no one enters. To tour the inside of the bell tower, you need to have a high level of membership to go inside on one of the very few tours a year.

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The lily pads were amazing.

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Beautiful purple buds growing around the lily pads.

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I was hoping to see frogs sitting in them but no luck there.

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I’ve never seen these blooms before.

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Looking down over a citrus grove, the bell tower sits on one of the highest points in central Florida.

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The gardens were decorated for Halloween.

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When did black and white pumpkins become so popular? Some had the spray paint starting to peel off. I guess I like the traditional orange ones.

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The spider was pretty cool, made with pumpkins and branches.

I’ve been saying I want to visit Bok Tower Gardens for the last 5 years. I finally made it there on a rare random Monday off. It’s just under an hour and a half from my house so I need to get there more often. It was a beautiful day and very few people there. I took a ton of pictures so more to come.

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“I don’t like spiders and snakes.”

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You gotta look up as well as down when walking the trails. This guy was hanging over my head. I think it’s a harmless black racer.

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Does he think I can’t see him behind that stick?

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A pretty silk orb weaver. These guys were all over the trails.

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Spotted orb weaver. This and the one above are the two I see the most on the trails.

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Next time I’m going to count how many of these I see down the trail. I’m guessing more than 50?

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Up close.

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A pretty type of flying bug, I don’t see many pink dragonflies around.

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This guy was hanging in the port-o-potty in the parking lot.

She said, "I don't like spiders and snakes
And that ain't what it takes to love me
You fool, you fool
I don't like spiders and snakes
And that ain't what it takes to love me
Like I want to be loved by you"
A great oldie from Jim Stafford. He grew up in Winter Haven, Florida. Not too far from where I took these pictures. I never paid much attention to this song but now when I’m walking the trails I end up singing it.
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Birds at Lettuce Lake Park

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This phoebe was too friendly not to stop and take his picture.

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A juvenile little blue heron sees something in the water.

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A limpkin was close to the boardwalk.

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Grackle shining in the sun.

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The little blue heron was moving around the boardwalk. By next summer he will molt and his new feathers will be all blue.

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Another phoebe.

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A black and white warbler hanging upside down.

Nothing new at Lettuce Lake on a recent Saturday morning.

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Flowers at the Botanical Gardens.

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Shots of flowers in the drizzle. The sun came out an hour later and it was hot and steamy.

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Roly Poly alligator

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Oh look, an alligator close to the boardwalk. Of course, he’s not going to move. They never do for me.

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Oh wait, I think he moved.

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Maybe not.

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He is moving! Looks like he’s rolling over in the water. Maybe trying to catch a fish.

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He’s opening his mouth wide.

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He straightened back up.

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He swam off into the shade.

That was exciting. Other people get to see them walking across the trail or eating a turtle. I get to see him take a big gulp of water. Actually, it was the highlight of the morning at Lettuce Lake Park.

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Lettuce Lake in the morning – Skywatch Friday

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The moon was still out when I got to the park at 8am.

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You would think by these pictures that it was started to feel like fall around here. Oh no, we’re still at 85 degrees. We’ve been getting a lot of rain so I’m not sure why some of the leaves were turning so early.

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It was nice to see the red leaves. Something we don’t see often here. Most of the time it goes from green to dead.

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Ferns growing on a tree branch.

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There were more spiders than birds.

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This looked like a big cotton ball in the middle but it’s some kind of spider web.

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Little squirrel looking for a handout.

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You had to keep an eye out over your head as you walked along the boardwalk. I kept doing spider checks in my hair.

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Into the sun.

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View of the lake from the tower. Taken with my phone. You can just barely see the moon in the sky.

I had a nice weekend morning walking around Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa. The weather was perfect but the birds and animals were scarce. The swamp was flooded so the wading birds were not around. I got a good 3 hour walk in before heading home for lunch.

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Wet and drippy morning

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I got out of my car at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo just as the rain was going from a heavy downpour to a light sprinkle. After waiting 30 minutes I was ready to get out. Everything was wet and drippy including me since all of the trees were still dripping on me. The birds were hiding so I started snapping pictures of all of the wet stuff around the gardens. I was trying to be creative catching the light through the raindrops but it’s harder than it looks. I probably could have used a tripod. Next time I’ll throw it in my car just in case.

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Back on the trails at my favorite park.

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One of the first birds I see walking down the trail is a common yellowthroat.

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He was checking me out.

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A hairy woodpecker flew in.

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Then a red bellied woodpecker showed up.

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Another bird, I think this is a female yellowthroat.

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Down the trail, I see the royal couple looking over their kingdom from a tall cypress tree in the middle of the lake.

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Green heron doing his “trying to catch a tiny fish” pose.

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Another red bellied woodpecker.

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Another downy woodpecker. The trail was full of woodpeckers.

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This is the 2nd time I’ve seen black bellied whistling duck babies and again they are far away and into the sun. I waited for half an hour hoping they would swim towards me but they kept getting farther away. This a late family.

It was so good to get back out on the trails at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. I had not been since May. It’s way too hot in the summer. There wasn’t a lot of bird activity yet. The winter birds and ducks hadn’t gotten there yet. It was still fun to get out and walk. But, the spider webs were out of control. You really had to watch were you were going. They were across the trails in the trees and along the sides. Soon, meaning maybe mid-November, the weather will break and it won’t be so miserably hot there.

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Bored waiting for a flycatcher to show up.

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Tiny butterfly at Fort Desoto.

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Teeny tiny things flying around.

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There were lots of weird looking plants.

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Spiky plant.

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Moth on a flower.

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Up close.

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These moths were everywhere.

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I think these are sea grapes (although I wouldn’t eat them).

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It’s weird to see how this tree trunk has grown.

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Staring out towards the water.

It was an early morning on Saturday in late September. There had been a rare type of flycatcher seen at Fort Desoto Park a few days earlier. I knew it was a slim chance to find him still at the park but I figured it would still be a nice morning out either way. There were several other people also looking in the same wooded area for him. We stood around hoping he would eventually show up. I got bored waiting and started taking pictures of other stuff around me. After two hours of looking around for him, I headed out of the woods and up to the north beach area for a nice walk on the beach.

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Birds and bees at the Botanical Gardens

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One of the few birds I saw this morning. A mockingbird staring down at me.

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Dragonfly trying to hide behind his wings.

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I saw this bunny hiding in the water fountain. Can bunnies swim? He may have come through the pipe where the overflow water comes out.

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The only other bird I saw, a hairy woodpecker.

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Bees were buzzing around the flowers in the frog pond.

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I was hoping to get lucky and not get rained on. The news was saying 70% chance but it usually holds out until after lunch. I drove into the parking lot of the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo around 8:30 and it started pouring. I checked the radar on my phone and it looked like it would move through quickly. I sat in the car for half an hour until it was just a light sprinkle. I got out and started walking around and 20 minutes later the sun came out and it felt like a sauna. I still got my walk in but it was very quiet at the gardens.

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