Road trip to central Florida

Bok Tower Gardens was bursting with color this summer.

I struggled to get a decent shot of the hummingbird. The light was bad but I managed to get the above. It was hot and muggy so it makes it harder to wait to get the hummer in those fleeting seconds of feeding.

It’s hard to ignore the cute cottontail bunnies

The bell tower

After leaving the gardens, I headed to a nearby fish camp to see if I could find any birds. It was quiet the morning I was there but I’m sure on the weekends it’s busy.

I did find two sandhill cranes feeding along the drive in.

Looking out over the lake, it was such a beautiful calm scene.  It’s these small hidden places that make Florida special.

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Little critters buzzing around

It was early August when I visited Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of birds there since fall migration hadn’t started yet but I was ready for a road trip. There were a lot of other flying critters though so I had a fun morning torturing myself trying to get pictures of little things buzzing around.

I found this spiny orb weaver with a bee in his web.

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Spring in central Florida

I love Bok Tower Gardens in the spring. It’s the only place I’ve seen orange sunflowers.

The pitcher plants are really cool as well.

Lots of things were blooming when I was there in late April. I just wish it was closer. It’s now almost 2 hours away, though worth the trip. I usually make several stops on the way home at other parks but it’s too hot to do that in the summer. 

Butterflies were everywhere but I mostly saw monarchs.

The birds were not plentiful but I did see some redstarts and great crested flycatchers.

And now I know why they call it a “cottontail” bunny.

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Back at Bok

Driving into Bok Tower Gardens you wind through orange groves and you can see the top of the carillon hovering over the trees. At this point the trees were heavy with ripe oranges in early April. I wish it was closer to my home. It’s an hour and a half away but worth the drive every once in a while. The worst part is putting your life on the line driving across crazy I4 for about 45 minutes but after that it’s a nice back road drive through small towns. I like seeing the cows as I pass by and I keep an eye out for eagles cruising in the skies.

This huge beautiful arrangement greats you at the entrance of the visitor’s center.

Lots of yellow and orange blooming when I was there. I love the orange sunflowers.

Little critters were flying around.

I found a lot of amaryllis blooming near the back exit by the parking lot. It made me think it was still Christmas but the heat reminded me it was not.

This was an interesting cactus. I don’t remember ever seeing these guys sprout like this. It looked like a big asparagus growing out of it.

I was hoping for a few spring migrates at the bird feeder by the pond but all I got was catbirds and cardinals.

While sitting on the bench waiting for birds at the feeder, this guy walked right up to me. Maybe people feed them here? He looked at me for a few seconds and then went to the ground under the feeder and started digging around for seeds. I think we had a connection!

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Things blooming in early April

The winter months are my favorite time of the year since the weather is so mild here in central Florida. But, when April rolls around I always think it’s my favorite month. It’s still cool in the mornings and everything is blooming everywhere. The flowers look fresh and haven’t been fried by the summer sun yet.

Even the pitcher plants were blooming.

The little critters were buzzing around.

Painted buntings were everywhere this year.  This couple only stopped at the feeder for a few minutes.

Of course cardinals are always around.

A bunny on the trail at Bok Tower Gardens in early April.

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Bok Tower Gardens

Even though chipping sparrows are not rare, I don’t see them often.

I found a female ruby throated hummingbird feeding in the english garden at Bok Tower Gardens in late February. It almost looks like she was molting around her face.

I was standing on the path for a while under a pine tree waiting for the hummingbird to come back to the flowers and someone walked by and said “Look at the owl over your head”. I didn’t even notice him when I walked up earlier. I’m glad he didn’t poop on me!

Butterflies and flowers in the garden near the bell tower.

The door to the courtyard at the historic house on the grounds. The Pinewood Estate is closed for now but you can still walk around the grounds.

I found the Fairy Garden on this visit. I usually don’t venture into the children’s garden there but it was a quiet morning so I wandered in to see if there were any good birds back there. I loved the big oversize nest and the little houses made from nature. It’s so creative.

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Wide open spaces

More shots from my trip to Bok Tower Gardens in November. I had a weekday off and Brett had never been so he took off and went with me. He was surprised at how big the koi fish were in the moat around the bell tower. You can feed them here so they are huge.

We took some time to just hang out and breathe with the wide open spaces here. It was quiet this morning and the oak trees were great shade.

Color on the path in the children’s garden.

We felt like we were on a farm for a few minutes.

Just outside the gardens in the parking lot, I stopped to look at the plants and noticed several caterpillars. I had already put my camera up so I snapped these with my phone.

After leaving the gardens, we stopped to check out some cows.

We really were just looking to see if the whooping cranes that hang out in a cow pasture were still around.

The cranes were still there but they were napping all the way across the pasture. This was with my 400mm and super cropped. It’s good to see them still there though. It was good to be out of the house and we had a nice day trip. We need to do more of these.

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Getting out in the gardens

Still so many pretty flowers at Bok Tower Gardens in November. The big lily pads were still blooming.

I hadn’t seen any frogs there in several years so I was excited to see this guy in a small pond.

Little flying critters.

I’ve taking a ton of pictures of the bell tower but this was the first time I noticed that there was a calendar carved in the back of the tower. I’m not sue what the lines mean. Has anyone seen this before?

There were still lots of caterpillars in mid-November.

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Little hummers and other things

My second ever rufous hummingbird sighting. This one and the one before were both at Bok Tower Gardens. Rufous hummingbirds are fairly rare around this area. This is only the 2nd time of hearing about one and I was happy to have seen it even briefly. I caught him high up on a tree taking a break. When he went to feed, he would go deep in the bushes or the other side making it impossible to get feeding shots. At one point I could barely see him feeding deep in the firebush.

Ruby throated hummingbirds are pretty common. I caught this male feeding near the carillon tower.

He buzzed off and disappeared. I stood under a pine tree for a long time waiting for him to come back. At one point I looked up and he was sitting right over my head.

Birds with yellow. The top one is an easy one, a yellow throated warbler. The 2nd I think is a red eyed vireo with a bug. The last is a a female common yellowthroat.

An ovenbird and blue gray gnatcatcher.

A usual sight, a harmless black racer crosses the sidewalk in front of me.

A bee house in the garden. Used by mason or other solitary bees, they lay their eggs in the holes.

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