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”

Sawmill Slough Preserve at University of North Florida (UNF)

I had been dissuaded from visiting Sawmill Slough Preserve. The University of North Florida web site warns that people should hike in pairs, and a sign at the trailhead reiterates this. However, I started on the trail at 9:15 on a Sunday morning, and there were already many cars in the lot. A short distanceContinue reading “Sawmill Slough Preserve at University of North Florida (UNF)”

Learn to Hike at Jacksonville Arboretum

Jacksonville Arboretum is a city park that is managed by a non-profit organization and maintained by volunteers. Its stated goals are to: Sustain biological diversity Maintain a natural area that can be used for research Educate the public about nature and natural resources Provide a peaceful place where people can self-reflect and enjoy nature [ResourceContinue reading “Learn to Hike at Jacksonville Arboretum”

Native Pine Trees in Florida

There are seven pine species native to Florida: Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)Pond Pine (Pinus serotina)Sand pine (Pinus clausa)Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii)Spruce pine (Pinus glabra)Shortleaf or Yellow Pine (Pinus echinata) Below are photos of four of the seven, taken during early spring at Jacksonville Arboretum. All trees were mature and of similar girth.

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”

Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting

On the ground, I noticed a translucent stem with a pinkish tinge, black flecks, and drooping, waxlike petals. It resembled the potato I’d grown in darkness, part of a fourth-grade science experiment. I thought it might be a sucker emerging from a nearby tree root, but took a photo just in case. The lighting conditionsContinue reading “Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting”