Up close with a hitchhiker

I was playing around with my macro lens using my stash from my trip to the Sweetfield Farms sunflower festival.

There are a lot of different types of sunflowers. Some have all yellow in the middle, some have black middles, some grow big and some grow little.

As I was taking up close shots of the flowers that I picked at the sunflower festival, I noticed this tiny critter hiding under one of the petals. He was smaller than my pinky nail and blended into the yellow petals. After taking some pictures of him, I relocated him to the backyard.

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A field of sunflowers

It all starts here. Not quite yet blooming at Sweetfield Farms.

It’s somehow theraputic to walk around a sunflower field. They were in full bloom in mid-May. Most were blooming way over my head.

It was a perfect sunny day to take pictures of the yellow flowers (even though ti was a little warm)

Every one looks just a little different. Many had bees on them.

Someone had made a face out of this older flower. You could see the sunflowers seeds underneath. In the past you would just buy the flowers already picked at the barn on the way out but this time you could pick your own. They give you clippers and let you walk around and pick out the ones you want. One thing they said was to cut the flatter faces if possible. Those were fresher since the seeds hadn’t started to grow. As the flower gets older the seeds grow and the face bowls out. By the time it bowls out the yellow petals will fall off soon. Another thing is that they are heavy. I cut 5 big ones and was trying to carry by camera stuff and the zinnias I had cut before this. It was a long trip back to the car. This is where having Brett with me would have come in handy (although then I would have spent a small fortune). He was busy playing golf so I was on my own.

My stash when I got home.

I guess my love of sunflowers started early. We grew them in our backyard when I was growing up. They were always much smaller than the ones on the farm. This was me in the early 70’s.

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Fun on a farm

I love going to see the sunflowers at Sweetfield Farms in the spring. Not just because there are fields of flowers but there’s also farm animals. They had baby goats when I visited in mid-May. They were so cute They would come right up to the fence and you could feed them hay. The kids were going crazy over them.

It’s always fun seeing the male turkey showing off when the female walked by.

And you know I love chickens.

They also have vegatables that you could pick. I think the zucchini blooms those yellow flowers.

A grasshopper on a leaf. I’m sure it’s not a good thing to have a grasshopper on your farm. Assuming a lot of them would eat through your plants.

I found a bluebird near the edge of the farm.

So many sunflowers. These were some of the smaller ones. More to come on those.

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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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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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Flowers in the fall.

Lots of things blooming at Bok Tower Gardens in late September.

A few of the critters. I rarely see ladybugs anymore.

Early morning at the bell tower. This is a great spot to take a break. Sitting under the big oak trees looking out at the old orange groves far away.

I made a quick trip to Bok Tower in central Florida in late September. It was a quiet morning and not too many birds but lots of plants were blooming.

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“Walking on sunshine!”

Sunflowers from beginning to end.

Up close with so many different sunflowers. Most were covered with bees and bugs.

The field was bursting with yellow.

Bringing in the stash. I spent a Sunday morning in late May north of Tampa at Sweetfield Farms. In the spring, they have a sunflower maze and activities during the sunflower season. The fields were full of sunflowers, all blooming. This guy cuts fresh sunflowers all day so you can buy and bring them home.With farm animals and lots of outdoor activities, it was a fun way to spend a morning. Brought some just picked vegetables home to cook that night.

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