Friday, March 31, 2023

'Shades of Blue' at Blue Run Park

 Blue Run Park is always a great destination to see lots of birds and beautiful sights.

Wild Blue Iris (Blue Flag)

This Blue Iris grows along the river and swamp and can be seen from the trail. 

We enjoyed a beautiful walk along the Rainbow River and stopped at our favorite spots.


It has greened up so much lately and the vegetation is so lush that we almost missed this little guy!

But when he raised his head, we recognized it as a Little Blue Heron.

And it was such a brilliant blue that I'm sure it was sporting breeding colors.

The water was a deep blue when we reached the Withlacoochee River too and hubby took a photo of this narrow motor boat. I love taking photos of the boats we see there but don't always include them in a post.

And when we looked down from the bridge we spotted three Alligators. There was one in the swamp along the way too. 

Lots of people go to Blue Run Park in hopes of seeing an alligator. It's really the only place we hike that we can spot a 'gator!


Are you starting to see signs of Spring where you live? Our temps are feeling more like summer this week!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’ 

 and Mosaic Monday HERE and I like Thursdays HERE !  

I'm including the link to Ocala's Good Life magazine again! I don't want you to miss it. 


Enjoy our article in Ocala's Good Life magazine HERE.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Ross Prairie State Forest and the Hermit Thrush

The sign may be on the ground but the trail is in the best shape ever. Just be sure you wear good hiking shoes and be aware of the roots and stumps in the trail. A walking stick would be helpful!

Ross Prairie

Let's hike the Holly Hammock Trail. It's only 2.3 miles but of course we will go on some of the side trails too and stretch the hike out to 2 1/2 hours!

Ross Prairie

Follow me!

Ross Prairie Wildlife area is over 3,000 acres of pine forest, oak hammocks and prairie land. In the wet season there are marshes that attract all kinds of water birds too.

It's beautiful in every season but nicer in the winter months when it's cooler (and there are less bugs)!

Hermit Thrush

We saw a lot of different birds on our hike but the one that posed for us was the Hermit Thrush.

Isn't he a beauty?

He moved around some but stayed close to the trail. 

I love the photo my hubby took looking up into the branches of the oak trees.

So that's what we saw when we went deep into the forest.

There's something so calming about getting away from the sounds and noise of civilization.

Do you have a forest nearby where you can walk? I remember walking on old logging roads in the mountains of NC. I hope you can find a peaceful place to enjoy nature!

Monster in the trees?

Is he on the ground now? (don't worry, it's just an old burned out log!)

You just never know what you'll see, real OR imagined!  

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’.  

 Mosaic Monday HERE and I like Thursdays HERE !  

I'm including the link to the Ocala's Good Life magazine below if you would like to read an article about our hiking adventures! Thanks!

Enjoy our article in Ocala's Good Life magazine HERE.

Friday, March 17, 2023

The Florida Scrub-Jays at Halpata Tastanaki Preserve

 One of our favorite hiking trails in the cooler months is Halpata Tastanaki Preserve from the SR 200 trailhead. 

Florida Scrub-Jay

It's a very open trail and there are areas of white sand that reflect the sun, so it's better for a cool day.

We have in the past seen Florida Scrub-Jays on the back loop near the Savannah. But they are banded so we knew these birds were a different flock.

They were very near the parking area and would be easy for someone to find without taking a full hike. 

We spotted one at the top of a tree as soon as we started our hike.

And then another one hopped out onto the firebreak and showed off for us.

He was really fun to watch!

We saw 4 while we stood there taking his photo.

One of them was really bright blue.

This one was shy!

They are so unique and it's so nice to have these habitats for this endangered species.

It's on the federal endangered species list because of the decline in habitat caused by extensive development. 

So we watched and marveled at this flock of friendly birds.

And then we walked the loop and saw a few more birds and lots of wildlife tracks! (deer, bear, turkey, coyote, raccoon, wild hogs and rabbits)

Black and white Warbler, thanks David Gascoigne for help with the ID!

Palm Warbler

Mourning Dove

Halpata Tastanaki Preserve is a nature lover's paradise!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters 

and I’d Rather B Birdin’.  

 Mosaic Monday HERE and I like Thursdays HERE !  

We were honored to be featured in the Ocala's Good Life magazine this month and would like to share a link to the online version below. Thanks to JoAnn Guidry for such a wonderful article! What a fun experience! Happy Trails!

Enjoy our article in Ocala's Good Life magazine HERE.

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Foxy Family in the pine forest!

I had planned a quick hike on the Greenway. (hiking the section between SR 484 and Hwy 200)

But before I even had my camera on, I looked ahead and saw something unusual on the ground!

Sherman's Fox Squirrel

Of all the critters you might see in the forest, the fox squirrel is one of the cutest!

I saw the one next to the trail run into the forest so I watched him climb a tree.

And lo and behold I saw another one scampering at the base of the same tree.

I was trying to stand perfectly still so they wouldn't go deeper into the forest when I lowered my camera to look around.

And there was one in the tree right next to me, watching ME!

I got lots of photos of him.

They are such beautiful critters!

There were really only two that I could get good photos of but I enjoyed watching them chasing each other!

I think they had fun watching me too!

This one was ignoring me. Doesn't it look like a cat in a tree?

But after awhile, I decided to finish my hike. 

It was hard to step away.

Right at the top of Bluebird of Happiness Hill, there was a big bird in the distance.

I love photographing this palm tree that grows in the wild.

And it turned out the big bird was an Eagle! WOW!

Bald Eagle.

When I turned to go back to the Jeep, I saw the Fox Squirrels again.

Two of them were together chasing each other up and down a tree.

One of the signs that a Fox Squirrel has been around is the stripped pine cones. They love to eat these.

I had fun watching them but they were playing their tricks to get rid of me.

Stretching out to be less noticeable?

This one was in a big hurry to get away. lol

And don't worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this post. They jump from limb to limb and keep on going!

What a fun sighting to see THREE of these critters in the forest! (two in the photo below)

Have you had a good week? Did you get out in nature to enjoy the surprises it holds? ENJOY!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’.  

Friday, March 3, 2023

'Bluebird of Happiness Hill' hosts the American Kestrels!

Did you notice that I said Kestrels...plural?

I hike this section of Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway....often! 

I park on hwy 484 and walk West (there's a good turn around at SR 200).

We see Kestrels pretty often in the winter months but I don't remember seeing 2 of them perching together.

Male American Kestrel

After awhile the female flew to another branch.

Female American Kestrel

This bug or dragonfly 'photobombed' me but it does look like she is wondering if it will fly close enough for her to snag it.

I saw a beautiful Mourning Dove on an old snag closer to the trail.

Mourning Dove

And when I looked at my photos, I could see that the Kestrel was in the distance.

I'll include this photo of one that has been preening.

And one more of the pair! It may be a long time before I see 2 Kestrels together on a branch!

Well, you expect to see Eastern Bluebirds on the hill so I'll end this post with these remarkable beauties!

Eastern Bluebird

They are such a bright blue at this time of year.

He's looking for YOU! lol

Have you seen some pretty color this week? Birds or flowers?

Enjoy your weekend and if the weather's nice, get outside to enjoy nature! 

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

and I’d Rather B Birdin’.