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

Critters at Chesnut Park.

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Some of the summer birds at Chesnut Park in mid-June.

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I don’t see Cooper’s hawks that often. This one was watching his nest, far into the woods. We couldn’t see the babies but we could hear them crying for food.

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Not great shots but I couldn’t resist. The above two shots are of a blue-gray gnatcatcher nest high up in a tree. It looked like a golf ball from the naked eye. I think there were 3 babies on the nest. By the time you could see them, they were outgrowing the nest. These are extremely zoomed in and cropped. Thanks to Joe with his scope that knows every bird that is born at the park.

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Even smaller critters have taken over. Grasshoppers and butterflies were everywhere.

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This little beauty had deer flies on her face. They are worse than mosquitos.

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Taken with my phone, a shot of the swamp from the boardwalk.