Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Rainbow River

 We go to Blue Run Park about once a week during hiking season. There are several trails and so much nature to observe.

It's always different, even from week to week. I've mentioned this before, but our favorite hike is on the paved trail, heading West to the Withlacoochee River bridge. The Swamp is on the left (where there is a big alligator hanging out lately, very near the trail...oh my!), the Rainbow River running on the right.

"The Rainbow River is formed by a first magnitude spring (Rainbow Springs) that is ranked fourth in the state for volume of discharge. In addition to the springs located at the headwaters, there are many smaller springs that discharge from numerous caves, rock crevices, and sand boils the entire length of the river. The Rainbow River is a gently winding river that is 5.7 miles long and merges with the Withlacoochee River at Dunnellon, Florida." Taken from the website HERE

We'll just stay with photos taken on the Rainbow River today!

This Pied-billed Grebe found him a tasty treat in the river.

He was having a time trying to get it to go down! lol

He finally got tired of posing for photos! lol

Other sightings....

White Ibis

Little Blue Heron

and a fishing boat.

You already know what the big scary alligator looks like so we'll skip him today!

How about this instead....for Halloween?

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Are you ready for a Hike?

I hope you're not tired of seeing the Swamp Sunflowers! 

We found some in the most unexpected place! 

Halpata Tastanaki Preserve from the hwy 200 trailhead is DRY! The trail is soft white sand in places!

But we saw more of the sunflowers there than the wetter areas at the Pruitt Trailhead.

They've put up a new sign, which looks nice and we will walk to the right of this photo along the sandy trail to begin and make a loop.

OK! Now let's switch gears! We still order our groceries online and pick them up at Walmart! Easy peasy!

And this week, our shopper gave us a bag filled with freebies. What a nice surprise! Thanks Walmart!

We usually just stick with grocery items but this week, I put a Wilton Bundt pan in the order. And for less than $9 I have a new bundt pan for my favorite cake recipe!

Thanks to my blog friends at The Low Carb Diabetic here, I have a cake that I can eat! YAY! I am allergic to sugar and usually just do without dessert but now I have this apple cake to enjoy! Here's the link to the original recipe HERE.

I cut it into serving sizes and freeze them in a ziplock bag. That way I can take out just one serving, thaw it and even put a few drops of water on top and microwave it for 15 seconds to eat it hot! 

Here's the recipe!

Apple Cake

8 servings
1 1/4 cup (140 g) blanched almond flour
1/4 cup (24 g) coconut flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1/4 cup (56g) butter or ghee, room temp.
1/2 cup xylitol or Swerve powdered
1/4 cup juice from lemon (about 1 and 1/2 lemons)
4 eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch Bundt pan with oil (well)
2. In a small bowl, add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Put aside.
3. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add the room temperature butter and sweetener (xylitol or Swerve). Beat on high for 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.
4. Turn the mixer to medium high and add 1 egg at a time, making sure it’s incorporated into the batter before adding the next. When all eggs are added, add the vanilla.
5. Add half of the lemon juice. Add the dry mixture to the bowl, mix and then add the remaining lemon juice.
6. Fold in the apples with a spatula. Batter should be light and airy. Add to the Bundt pan and spread to even out the top.
7. Bake for 35 minutes until edges are slightly brown and toothpick comes out clean.
8. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the cake out of the pan by placing the cooling rack over the pan and flipping it over.

And take my word for is AMAZING!
I've tried a few brands of almond flour and I've had good results with all of them. The one I used for this recipe had some coconut flour mixed in so that worked good!

Have you had a good week too?

I'm joining Angie for Mosaic Monday HERE . 

Also I like Thursdays HERE.   

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Seeing the Extraordinary!

I'll just jump around in my photos and show some of our sightings at the Pruitt Trailhead a few days ago. 

I take SO many photos that I can't possibly share them all but here are a few!

 Eastern Bluebird high in the branches.

Gulf Fritillary

Northern Harrier (we think)

Anhinga (we're sure! lol)

And now for the extraordinary! We parked at the trailhead in the blazing sun! No, it really wasn't that hot, around 80 degrees with a nice breeze. We put the top back on the Jeep and pulled out the snacks. 

We like to eat apple slices and cheese sticks and always have a bag of nuts and some Wheat Thins in the ice chest, just in case. We had just eaten some of the apple when I remarked about the big flock of buzzards overhead. 

Hubby said, one of those is an Eagle!

So out we hopped and we both took a bunch of photos (a bunch is Southern for a LOT!!!)

One more....

oh just one more.....

well, maybe one more! hahaha!

The one above has a dragonfly that photo bombed him! The Eagle was HIGH up, the dragonfly much closer! We estimated the Eagle to be around 4 years old because of the dark tips on the tail feathers. 

This man on his horse came off the trail and stopped to look too. 

And that was the perfect ending to a wonderful hike!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

In Search of the Swamp Sunflower!

I've seen these beautiful sunflowers in years past but never had a proper ID! 

Swamp Sunflower

But this year, I kept seeing them mentioned on blogs and websites I visit regularly. 

Sandra Friend did a post about them HERE

Ed Rosack took some amazing photos and a blog post HERE.

And Wally Jones did a wonderful post HERE!

We drove over to the Pruitt Trailhead of Halpata Tastanaki Preserve and took a hike and even saw a few on that trail. And then we drove down the dirt road to another trailhead and hiked Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway trail (Pruitt Trailhead). You can see the other trail from here but it's amazing how different they can be. This trail is always wetter so it's a perfect area for the Swamp Sunflower. 

We were about a week early for one field. It was mostly buds. 

But we walked down farther and came to a beautiful patch of sunflowers.

It was our first 'Fall weather' day....highs only in the 70s and a nice cooler northerly breeze.

So it was perfect! We saw a few other hikers and one man on a horse so that made it interesting too.

Trying to get the perfect pics! I recognize this man! heehee!

We are seeing so many different birds now but I'll save those photos for the weekend. (below the field with more buds than blooms, but we'll go back again soon!)

Has the weather been nice at your house too? Sunflower weather? A special thank you to those who prompted me to go in search of these flowers and to finally have a proper identification! 

I’m joining Thankful Thursdays and

I like Thursdays HERE too!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

What green eyes you have, Robber Fly!

I saw something fly in to the grasses next to the trail and stopped to take pics.

It appears to be a Green-Eyed Robber Fly also know as a bee killer. More info HERE

And it definitely has some type of wasp as it's prey.

Do you see how it is hanging onto the blade of grass above it?


It was very small but the orange color and green eyes really stood out!

And do you see the large grasshopper in the grasses ahead?

American Grasshopper

He really blends in to this tree too.

And this caterpillar stands out on the trail.

Don't step on him, Honey! 

The Warblers are back on the Florida Trails.

Flocks of Pine Warblers and Palm Warblers were darting back and forth and even landing on the trail in front of us.

And isn't this a neat photo of a Red Shouldered Hawk that hubby took! 

Thanks hubby! Sharp eyes!

Showy Rattlebox

It's been perfect weather for hiking and birding this week! Are you getting outside some too?

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’.