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”

Paraners Branch Loop Trail in O’leno State Park

I visited O’leno State Park during a foggy, overcast day. My plan was to try Paraners Branch Loop Trail, which I missed during my last visit. I crossed the swinging bridge and stopped to take some pictures along the water. I then took River Trail. After following yellow trail markers for a time, I turnedContinue reading “Paraners Branch Loop Trail in O’leno State Park”

Scenic O’leno State Park

O’leno State Park (High Springs, Florida) surpasses expectations. The road into the park is paved, and the parking lot holds a moderate number of cars. Visitors are greeted with well-kept restrooms, a playground, and an expansive, well-kept picnic area. On this initial visit, I walked River Trail, Dogwood Trail (to Limestone Trail), and Limestone Trail,Continue reading “Scenic O’leno State Park”

Turkey Creek – easy trail through new-growth forest

This week, I visited Turkey Creek Preserve, which opened to the public last year (2021). A dozen years after its purchase in 2009, this 376 acre site remains new-growth forest. It is testimony to the fact that it takes decades to reestablish decimated habitat. There are two trailheads, one of which offers a well-kept parkingContinue reading “Turkey Creek – easy trail through new-growth forest”

The Secret Gem at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

The first time I visited Washington Oaks Gardens State Park (Palm Coast, Florida), I didn’t realize that it is divided by Old A1A, the two-lane highway that follows the eastern coastline. I enjoyed the manicured garden and hiking trail, but completely missed the beach and its coquina outcropping, one of the largest in the country.Continue reading “The Secret Gem at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park”

How dangerous is a Pygmy Rattlesnake?

Something wriggled next to my foot, as I stooped at a decaying stump and photographed a beetle. As it unfolded and slithered past my leg, I gazed in appreciation. Then, it’s pattern suddenly registered! I stepped back, realizing it was a Pygmy Rattlesnake, a venomous snake common throughout the southeastern United States. It’s a smallContinue reading “How dangerous is a Pygmy Rattlesnake?”

Lucky daytime spotting of the Horned Fungus Beetle

Alone on a swampy trail, I noticed a half-inch beetle feeding on a mushroom. It was gray and bumpy, resembling tree bark. I was lucky to sight the Horned Fungus Beetle (Bolitotherus cornutus), since it’s active at night. This particular morning was overcast and the lighting was dim, which led this individual to indulge inContinue reading “Lucky daytime spotting of the Horned Fungus Beetle”

Campsomeris quadrimaculata – a giant wasp found in Florida

While walking, I came across this huge, beneficial wasp. It pollinates a wide variety of flowers and keeps beetle populations in check. It has no moniker. However, I’m nicknaming it the Lighthouse Wasp, since it flashes yellow beacons as it feeds. Below is a one-minute video with additional pictures and information. Video Transcript: I noticedContinue reading “Campsomeris quadrimaculata – a giant wasp found in Florida”

Nature Reclaims La Chua Trail

Early morning visit to La Chua trail (Payne’s Prairie, Gainesville, FL). A few years ago, nature reclaimed the long arm of this trail with flooding that failed to recede. This year, only the boardwalk is left. The water was high on both sides, coming approximately 4 feet from the floorboards. Although anoles enjoy hunting andContinue reading “Nature Reclaims La Chua Trail”

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”