Friday, April 12, 2024

Finding beauty close to home!

We've had a lovely Spring with perfect hiking weather and lots of pretty things to photograph in the forest.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

This is a trail I take from hwy 484 through the woods in the direction of Shangri-la. 

Shangri-la is a trailhead and a campground and it's a favorite destination too.

This particular trailhead is only 3 miles from my driveway so I go there often.

And of course there are trails that take off in several directions so every hike is different.

One day I photographed these Blue Lupines in full bloom.

They are scattered throughout the forest and really are a burst of color among the pine needles and old leaves.

And then another day I spotted these white Lupines! 

I had never seen them before so that was amazing!

One more close up!

I watched a little Black-capped Chickadee high in the tree.

The leaves of this tree are a pretty Spring green.

And then there were two Red-bellied Woodpeckers chasing each other.

I think it might have been a Spring ritual too.

Lots to see and do! I need to take some 'energy pills'! haha!

Have a beautiful weekend!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

  and Mosaic Monday HERE !  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

The "Birds"!

 What you focus on in this photo is the beautiful melodic Eastern Meadowlark.

He's always a welcome sighting at the Pruitt trailhead of Halpata Tastanaki Preserve.

But what you might notice on closer observation is 100s of black birds in the background.

They are crows! Hundreds of them! They streamed through until I gave up trying to count them.

It's Spring and the birds are on the move. And there are birds around that I don't normally see. 

I looked out at this beautiful tree and saw deer browsing. Later 3 more walked across the trail in front of me.

It's probably a good thing I don't get photos of everything I see. I walk slow enough as it is! 

They weren't the least bit concerned about me from that distance.

I watched a Swallow-tailed Kite overhead.

And then spotted this American Kestrel.

He's a little ruffled by the wind.

I saw several on this hike but they usually perch too far away for a good photo.

A few more sights along the way and we'll head back to the Jeep!

Oh and here's the 'monster' of the day!

Doesn't this piece of pine bark look a little like a gator?

I hope you are enjoying the birds of Spring where you live!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

  and Mosaic Monday HERE !  

Friday, March 29, 2024

Sharing the Trail at the Shangri-La trailhead!

Let's drive back over to Shangri-La trailhead!

(horse trailer from the rear)

You can always count on seeing a few horse trailers and horses on the trails.

But let's see if I can find a parking space! lol

Some of the trails I hike on are shared trails but that's never been a problem.

I sometimes see a horse but it's an easy trail to step aside. And I always give the horses a wide berth. I don't want them to be nervous around me.

And the riders are always friendly when they pass.

Don't you love this horse trailer and the artwork at the top?

It's beginning to be one of my favorite hikes because of the beautiful forests with a chance to see wildlife and birds, flowers and butterflies.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, bull thistle

And when I left, this lone turkey wandered onto the dirt road in front of the Jeep.

So it was a chance for me to pull over in the grass and watch him wander!

I think I've learned my hiking form from him...a bit of a wander and meander!

Have you seen signs of Spring at your house this week?

It's beautiful here in Florida and I'm still hiking just about every other day which makes me happy AND healthy!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

  and Mosaic Monday HERE !  

Friday, March 22, 2024

Let's go back to Blue Run Park in Dunnellon!


When we want to see a lot of birds and wildlife, we head to Blue Run Park.

White Ibis

It's also a place to 'visit' with a few regulars. A lot of people go there every day to walk or ride bikes so it's fun to see some familiar faces.

We love seeing the boats on the Rainbow River too.

The bridge is near where the Rainbow River and Withlacoochee Rivers come together.

The Withlacoochee was sparkling on this particular day.

And below the bridge we spotted two alligators.

Two Red Shouldered Hawks were perched in a tree nearby. 

I have one pictured below but he really blends into the trees!

There were so many small birds but I think most of these are Yellow Rumped Warblers.

One more with the yellow rump visible.

And this is easily identified!

Wood Duck

He flew past us and landed in a pool of water close by!

And then he flew out again!

Lots of neat turtles on the logs.

And a Moorhen hiding in the tall grasses.

I love my forest hikes but you can see a lot more birds and wildlife at Blue Run Park!

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

  and Mosaic Monday HERE !  

Friday, March 15, 2024

Halpata Tastanaki Preserve - Plan B

 I've learned over the years not to worry if I get a late start or change my mind about my original plan. 

Iridescent Green Beetle

There may be a reason not to go in the direction I was headed.

On this particular day, I had planned to take a hike from the trailhead near my house, beginning on hwy 484. But when I came to the hwy, the traffic was at a standstill to my left. So I turned right and drove to Halpata Tastanaki Preserve.

It was a beautiful day and I saw lots of birds and wildlife.

I love this new sign on the fence post.

Gray Catbird

I found out when I got home and searched online that the traffic was stopped because of a bad wreck involving 2 cars and an ambulance. It had happened less than an hour before I left my house. So I was thankful for my late start that morning.

I watched 2 Florida Scrub Jays from a distance.

I see the most variety here on the HTP preserve and it's one of the first (it's actually the second) trail we ever hiked here in this part of Florida.

Three White-tailed Deer ran across the trail right in front of me! I was happy that ONE showed up in my photo!



Monster (thanks for asking, Iris! I always wonder if anyone will question my 'monsters'. This is a broken trunk of a tree about 4 ft high. It looked like a huge 'monster' bird...just for fun!)

And how about this very cute animal track!

So it turns out that Plan B was the best plan. It's great to have so many trails close by so that I have choices. I have much to be thankful for!

Are you having good weather to enjoy time outdoors?

I’m joining Saturday’s critters HERE

  and Mosaic Monday HERE !