The Swamp Comes Alive in Spring

The weather was pleasantly cool and breezy; a good day for day-hiking. Since many trails in northeastern Florida remain flooded, I opted to walk the elevated trails at Sweetwater Wetlands. Water levels being high, the park’s dry basins had filled. Alligators of all sizes took advantage of the expanded habitat. One young gator amused visitorsContinue reading “The Swamp Comes Alive in Spring”

Eagans Creek Greenway in Fernandina Beach

Pre-Covid, I’d visited Eagans Creek Greenway in Fernandina Beach, Florida; but the weather was hot, I found the trail signs difficult to interpret, and swarms of mosquitos turned me back at the halfway point. Today, the temperature was moderate, the sun was shining, and many trails in Central Florida were flooded, so I decided toContinue reading “Eagans Creek Greenway in Fernandina Beach”

Lost in Seaton Creek Historic Preserve

Yesterday I visited a new-to-me park, Seaton Creek Historic Preserve in northern Jacksonville (Florida). There was ample parking at the trailhead, although the parking lot looked as though it may sometimes be muddy and impassable. I had downloaded a trail map, and planned to do a figure 8: Take the 2.3 mile Houston Creek TrailContinue reading “Lost in Seaton Creek Historic Preserve”

Photographing Wildlife Safely

If you’re reading this, you probably take a lot of photos. And, odds are, you’ll be taking many more. So there will always be another great shot to replace one missed, provided the photographer puts safety first. Safety begins when one pauses for the shot and glances down. Is she standing next to a venomousContinue reading “Photographing Wildlife Safely”

Winter Birds at Sweetwater Wetlands (Gainesville, FL)

From a distance, there appeared to be a lot of dead vegetation in the marsh. It looked like scattered chunks of palm bark. Then, in the water, I noticed a duck with a bright orange bill. I lifted my binoculars for a better look, and then realized that the woody shreds were moving. This wasn’tContinue reading “Winter Birds at Sweetwater Wetlands (Gainesville, FL)”

Walkingstick Rescue

I’ve been partial toward stick insects since my husband and I hiked a Florida park, where sporadic high-pitched whines crossed the trail in waves. Sometimes the sound was nearly imperceptible, then slowly grew in volume. At its peak, the sound matched the whir of green aliens in outer space movies. Late that afternoon, we noticedContinue reading “Walkingstick Rescue”

Beauveria bassiana – An insect-eating fungus

I noticed something along the trail – a 1 cm, white gob hanging from the underside of a palmetto frond. It looked like a small bird dropping, except that it was alone and on the wrong side of the leaf. Something about the curvature of the spot suggested an insect. I’d read that some caterpillarsContinue reading “Beauveria bassiana – An insect-eating fungus”

European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors

While hiking, I noticed a wasp with striking bands of yellow and black. It ignored me as I filmed, enraptured by the blossoms of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a poisonous plant native to the eastern United States. The insect was a European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula), a species introduced into Boston in the 1970s. UnlikeContinue reading “European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors”

Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is known for its large garden and ancient oak trees. As I walked the roadside edging the garden, I heard a scream. I stopped and listened. Silence, then the screaming resumed. And this time it didn’t stop. I was alone in the park and, as I ran to the sound,Continue reading “Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer”