An early morning walk

I left the house in the dark in early October, heading north to Chinsegut Wildlife trail. It’s only an hour away but feels like a completely different place. I made some quick stops along the way, taking shots of the light coming up over the trees and through the fog.

Right before the trail I saw this old building. At first I thought it was a house but it might have been some type of small factory or type of barn. There were trees growing in the middle of the building. I had to stop and get a shot of it. As I was taking some pictures with my phone, some crows flew out of the building. I thought “Is it Halloween already?”

When I got to the conservation center to park the sun was just coming up. I hadn’t been out for a long walk in a while and it felt good to be out in the woods.

Due to a lot of recent rain, things were pretty swampy. I had on a lot of bug spray so I was able to linger a while and listen to the swamp sounds.

It looked a little like fall with a few red leaves but I would suspect that they are really from the trees being so flooded for a while.

I found a sandhill crane family near the parking area and junior was almost grown up. He didn’t quite have a full red head yet though. They walked around for a while, picking off some bird seed in the ground feeder and then eventually headed into the woods.

 

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A new preserve close by

I had only recently heard about Lake Dan Preserve through a hiking group. It’s only 30 minutes north so I decided to check it out in early February. It was a colder morning but the sun was warming up. The parking lot was small and hawk was sitting in a tree right over my car. There wasn’t a lot of birds when I first got there.  Only a few yellow-rumped warblers. Probably because that hawk was sitting there out in the open. I hit the trail and walked across the bridge over the lake.

Out on the edge of the lake I could see deer getting a drink.

As I got farther down the trail, I came across a deer that was standing right in front of me. She stared at me for a few seconds before taking off across the field. She did stop and look back for a few seconds before heading into the woods. There were a lot of deer up here roaming around.  All females that I saw this morning.

The only thing I didn’t like about the trail here was that most of it was soft sand which didn’t help my hip. Even walking on the edge didn’t help. I could feel my hip starting to hurt. I really need hard dirt or paved trails for now to keep my hip from going back out again so I didn’t walk as much as I would have liked to.

I found this interesting swamp pond about half way on my walk on a side trail. It was very quiet and I could barely make out deer getting water on the far end. I’m sure lots of critters use this instead of the big lake close by. It was kind of cool to be out here in the quiet and the bald cypress trees in the middle made it feel like winter. It’s amazing what you can find a half hour out of Tampa. First shot is out of the camera, the second I added a filter to make it look more like winter. I wasn’t sure which one I liked better.

My Corner of the World

 

A quiet morning at Lettuce Lake Park

Things up in the trees along the boardwalk at Lettuce Lake Park.

You can usually find several night herons in the swamp.

The view from the tower above, taken with my phone. It always makes me feel like I’m somewhere else other than close to downtown Tampa when I’m standing up here.

Looking into the swamp from the boardwalk. There’s gators hiding in there somewhere.

At the end of the boardwalk, the HIllsborough river floats by and turns the corner.

Under the trees along the trail, it was quiet early in the morning. I had the trail all to  myself

SkyWatch Friday

In the swamp in July.

The usual birds at Chesnut park in July including that titmouse hanging upside down trying to get a bug.

I was hoping to see some baby deer in mid July but I think it was too early. Only adults and young bucks.

The usual critter in the swamp.

A usual summer storm was moving in.

The boardwalk swamp was full of water after days of rain. It was weird to be walking around with so much water. Even in the early morning it was hot, muggy and buggy.  The last one is a quick video oft he sounds in the swamp.

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Rapids in Tampa??

Yes, if you can call the above rapids, then we do have them in Tampa. At Hillsborough River State Park. According to the Florida State Park website, these are Class II rapids. I visited for the first time in mid-June after several days of heavy rain.

The elevated bridge that crosses the river.

The water in some of the swampier areas of the park looked like tea.

Lots of beautiful old trees along the trails.

The park’s purpose it to preserve the “real Florida”. It was hot, muggy and buggy in June and that’s exactly the real Florida. I had 2 layers of DEET on and still came home with lots of bug bites. I didn’t see a lot of wildlife the morning I was there. Not like all of the other parks I frequent close by. Very few birds but I’m sure there were lots of snakes hiding. It’s about 45 minutes away from my house so not a long drive but I don’t think I’ll go back until winter (which around here means January).

SkyWatch Friday

Green is good

The rainy season in August caused the lake at Lettuce Lake Park to flood, raising the plants and bringing them closer to the boardwalk. Everything looked fresh and green one morning right after a shower.

At first I thought this was a branch that had fallen in the water. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a snake, belly up in the water. It’s only a matter of time before a gator makes a meal out of him.

There’s a lake under there somewhere.

In the swamp.

After the rain stopped

The rain never seemed to stop in late June and continued in early July. We finally had a Saturday morning that was clear and sunny so I headed out to Chesnut Park. The swamp that the boardwalks run through was full of water. It was hot and steamy by 8am. Someone left a painted rock on a stump. All of the above was taken with my phone.

Hiding in the grass.

Most of the deer were in the back of the baseball field where the trees start. I found a few others near the boardwalk.

I climbed up the 3 story observation tower to check out the lake. I could hear thunder off in the distance. I guess this squirrel was doing the same thing.

The rain was moving in fast so I headed home after a 2 hour walk.

SkyWatch Friday

Lettuce Lake Park after the rain.

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Fir trees come with their own built in ornaments.

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Spider webs and dew early in the morning.

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Fungus in the water soaked swamp.

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Buzzing around in the tree.

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Got a snack.

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Paddling by.

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The lake looks very inviting.

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The swamp does not look inviting. Both the lake and the swamp are full of alligators. The trails and area around the boardwalk was flooded from all of the late summer rains. I’ve never seen the water this high before. Some of the foot trails were still under water and closed. I kept an eye out for wayward alligators and snakes.

Skywatch Friday