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”

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)”

Hatchling Season at Sweetwater Wetlands

The Transcript: Welcome to Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, Florida. This marshland park is dotted with overlooks. Let’s see what we find. This young Common Gallinule is nearly grown. Although gallinules may occasionally eat insects or snails, they’re primarily herbivores. This bird is managing the habitat by consuming Hydrilla verticillata, an Asian plant sold toContinue reading “Hatchling Season at Sweetwater Wetlands”

Red-shouldered Hawks – Monogamous and Opportunistic Florida Residents

The Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) is one of my favorites to watch, particularly during breeding season. This is when pairs circle together, heavily‑banded feathers stretched wide. The Red-shouldered prefers mature forest adjoining small areas of open land. My own neighborhood adjoins a section of forest, and Red-shouldereds routinely fly through the closely packed trunks andContinue reading “Red-shouldered Hawks – Monogamous and Opportunistic Florida Residents”

Turkey on the trail

Recorded at Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park, Jacksonville, FL (7000 Roosevelt Boulevard) Transcript: That was an unusual experience. I’m near the junction of the [second] spur trail and, to my right, maybe 10-15 feet away, a wild turkey was sleeping in the sun. And it was just dozing. And when it realized I was here,Continue reading “Turkey on the trail”

Black Vultures: Clever Carrion-eaters and Hunters

Although Black vultures feed on carrion, they also hunt slow, injured, or newly-born animals. I once  saw three vultures surround a large pond turtle, which strayed too far from the water. First they ripped off its legs, and then they devoured the body. I’ve also seen them loiter around a doe and her newly-born fawn,Continue reading “Black Vultures: Clever Carrion-eaters and Hunters”

It’s May and wild birds are nesting at the Jacksonville Zoo (Florida)

In spring, Wood Storks, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night-Herons nest in the mature oaks and bamboo stands of Jacksonville Zoo (370 Zoo Parkway), so be sure to take binoculars while visiting. Black Vultures can also be seen year-round.

Three Bird Calls

The bird in the foreground is a Cardinal. Someone once described it to me as sounding like a ray gun. In the background, a White-eyed Vireo is also heard. The remaining background calls are made by another Cardinal and a Carolina Wren, which sometimes sound like a car alarm. Photo by theSOARnet with Pixabay

Trails at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

Where is it? There are two trailheads a few miles apart. The trailhead for hiking is at:  11101 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL.The trailhead for equestrian and bike use is at:  13201 Progress Blvd., Alachua, FL. Note that bicycles and horses are not allowed on the hiking trails. Likewise, hikers are not permitted on the bicycleContinue reading “Trails at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park”