Morning Meandering

Seven years.  This period of time seems to have some significance.  Break a mirror – seven years of bad luck will follow.  The first acknowledged “global war” took place primarily in Canada and the northern American (British) colonies and lasted seven years.  The Bible relates the story of seven years of famine in Egypt and predicts that seven years of tribulation will precede the end times.  Marriages are supposed to experience a “seven year itch” and some folks run off to seek scratching which results in lawyers becoming more prosperous.

It is not all bad news.  I can name at least four marriages (including my own) which experienced no itching or subsequent need for scratching.  I personally broke a mirror in high school and was rewarded with moving next door to a girl I eventually married (over 45 years ago).  Periods of global peace have lasted much longer than seven years.  The Bible is full of stories about very long periods of joy and happiness.

More good news!  Seven years ago this month, Florida opened its 160th State Park!

Colt Creek State Park in Polk County has, over the years, been a cattle ranch, commercial pine tree forest, hunting preserve and was briefly used to mine lime rock.  This land was purchased by the state due primarily to its importance within the floodplain of the nearby Green Swamp region.  Water flowing from the park makes its way to four of Florida’s major rivers including the Withlacoochee, Hillsborough, Peace and Ocklawaha.

There are over 12 miles (19.3 km) of trails within the park from which one can enjoy pine flatwoods, cypress domes (see “Additional Resources”), open pastures and bottomland forests.  In a recent year-long survey, 150 species of birds and 79 butterfly species were observed.  Mammals within the park include white-tailed deer, bobcat, river otter and Sherman’s fox squirrel.  Fishing is possible and canoes and kayaks are available.  The park has plenty of picnic tables and grills while a large screened pavilion could host over 100 people.  There is access to primitive campsites for those who want to backpack into the park’s more remote sections.

I visited the park early one morning this week and enjoyed a very quiet walk in the forest, a rest by the lake and an exciting wildlife encounter.  It was very windy throughout the morning and not many butterflies were about.  I think that may have affected the bird activity also as I didn’t see a lot of variety today.  It’s a beautiful park, well maintained and (maybe it’s best feature) very close to the house.  I shall return.

Hope you enjoy a bit of the sights as much as I did.

Entrance

Entrance

The largest of the lakes (which is actually quite small) in the park, Mac Lake, has a pier for easy fishing and small boats are permitted (no gasoline engines).  It’s a scenic lake and was quite tranquil at the start of the day.

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

Pickerelweed is pretty common throughout the state anywhere it can find a wet place to grow.

Pickerelweed

Pickerelweed

I surprised a pair of juvenile White Ibises on the path near the lake.  They will molt into the distinctive all white plumage early in their second year.

White Ibis (immature)

White Ibis (immature)

The sound of the wind blowing through the tops of tall pine trees made for a very pleasant walk through the woods.  Fresh pine scent all around me didn’t hurt, either!

Pine Forest

Pine Forest

A Blackeyed Susan brightened up the hike.

Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

You’re never really alone in a forest.  This Red-shouldered Hawk kept a wary eye on me.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Butterweed was blooming in profusion along the edges of the fields.

Butterweed (Packera glabella)

Butterweed
(Packera glabella)

Two types of thistle are common within our county.  This one is the less prickly, Nuttall’s Thistle.

Nuttall's Thistle (Cirsium nuttalli)

Nuttall’s Thistle (Cirsium nuttalli)

A Sandhill Crane was busy feeding in a small pool and didn’t notice me right away.  A second crane soon appeared but I didn’t see any chicks (most pairs currently have young).

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

The surrounding bottomland is full of beautiful trees which offer shelter for all sorts of life.

Hardwoods

Hardwoods

Mushrooms abound in the area.  I have not attempted to identify any of them.

Fungus

Fungus

This common member of the Gaillardia family is called Firewheel.

Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)

Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)

I think this may be a member of the Skullcap (Scutellaria) family but I’m not sure.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Skullcap (sp.?)

Skullcap (sp.?)

The Mexican Pricklypoppy provides a sunshine burst of yellow.  Be careful if you get too close, though!

Mexican Poppy (Argemone mexicana)

Mexican Poppy (Argemone mexicana)

While I was taking a rest and water break, a Bald Eagle appeared overhead.  He was apparently hoping to enjoy a morning of quiet fishing.  It was not to be.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

A Red-shouldered Hawk flew in to voice an objection to a violation of his air space.

Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk

Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk

The eagle ignored him and the hawk retreated.  He was soon replaced with a more aggressive raptor.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite

The kite harassed the eagle for several minutes, displaying his versatile aerobatic technique.

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Soon, the eagle performed a barrel-role and flew upside down under the kite, no doubt to emphasize his talons were MUCH larger than the kite’s!  The kite disappeared.

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

Bald Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite

A scream from the eagle advertised for all to hear that he was claiming this piece of air this morning.  He wasn’t bothered again.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

So, Colt Creek State Park has weathered seven years without bad luck, wars, plagues or lawyers.  We hope it survives for a very long time.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Additional Resources

Colt Creek State Park

Cypress Domes

 

Linking to Stewart’s “Wild Bird Wednesday”.  See more birds from around the world at Paying ReadyAttention for

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

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38 thoughts on “Morning Meandering

  1. Another great park…you live in such a perfect birding area! I am SO envious of your beautiful flight shots always and to get both the kite and eagle in one picture is just amazing. I always love watching those battles for sky territory among any two species of bird, but those two, wow!

  2. Another beautiful park. Loved the eagle story and barrel roll. Great shot! Over 45 years–good for you! It’s a blessing to find the love of a lifetime. Our daughter lived near a pine forest for a while, I loved to linger outside and hear the swishing of the branches that you mentioned.

  3. What a beautiful place you live in. All the amazing birds and the lovely flowers . The Bald Eagle is magnificent ! // Maria

    • We are very fortunate to live here where there is so much Nature all around us! Thank you so much for your kind remarks!

  4. What a marvelous place. i especially like the kite-eagle interactions and the beautiful flowers.

  5. What a wonderful spot for wandering. Your thistle photo is just beautiful. By the way, at our home bird feeders, I had been wondering what kind of fights were going on between doves, cardinals and others to make such a mess, even to the point of finding feeders knocked to the ground. Two nights ago, just at dusk, we learned who was really responsible: a pair of raccoons. Have to admit, though, they were fun to watch.

    • HELLO YOUNG SISTER!

      Those ‘coons don’t wear masks for nothin’! 🙂

      It IS a good spot. Hope to return soon and capture some butterfly images. LOVE YOU!

  6. Beautiful images Wally!!! I love ’em all, the flowers, the scenery, the birds…but especially the Sandhill Crane with it’s beak and droplet of water —as the water ripples. Love that one. Sorry it’s taken me so long to stop by and visit this past week, I’ve been busy doing a watercolor painting of an Indigo Bunting and I finally finished it and got it framed this past weekend. If you’d care to view my finished painting it’s on my personal blog –Hootin’ Anni’s [ http://hootin–anni.blogspot.com ]

    Hope your week is off to a great start.

    • Thank you for visiting, Anni! We appreciate your nice remarks. I left a comment on your other blog regarding your painting – it’s wonderful!

  7. Your photos are a wonderful illustration of the natural history of the park, Wally. I’m amazed by the number of state parks in Florida. Utah only has about 45 (Antelope Island is one of them).

    • Thanks very much Ron. I’ll return there soon as I hope to find many more flowers in bloom along with the butterflies they attract. Of course, I’ll attempt to find as many birds as possible first!

  8. Helleow Wally!
    At long last you’ve given me a link to your blog!!
    Many thanks! 😉
    I have appreciated your kind and enthusastic comments and felt quite frustrated for I couldn’t get back to you.
    What a nice place Colt creek seems to be, I can only image how elated one can feel in such an environment.
    Great captures of the birds in flight.
    Cheers!

  9. What a great showcase of all the beautiful sights to see at Colt Creek. Lucky you, it looks like you had your very own airshow! How cool to watch the interactions of those raptors! Thanks for the great report, as always, Wally!

  10. It looks like a beautiful piece of country. Lovely wildflowers – I assume most of them flower in the spring or early summer. Wildflowers around here flower best in the late winter. Your photos of the raptors are wonderful. Great to even see other birds harassing the eagle – and you got great photos as well!

    • The majority of the flowers do bloom in spring and early summer but due to our temperate climate, we can find something blooming year ’round. That area is close to several small lakes, a couple of rivers and a large swamp, so we get quite a variety and good number of raptors there. It was fun to watch the aerial display!
      Have a good weekend, Mick!

  11. Hi there Wally, your pickerelweed looks like our camus that grows wild here and the natives used to eat it. WOW that is some great shot of the sandhillcrane. Nice flying shot of the eagle. Just a wonderful posting to share with us.

  12. Wonderful, beautiful, ever-sweet post. And a big HOORAH to this new park!!!

    🙂

  13. Mercy! A kite and eagle in the same frame? Impressive. I love the hawk perched on the branch as well. A very active park!

  14. Anonymous

    The lake is very beautiful. I love the eagle. It’s a very majestic bird.

  15. Wally, I’d be more than happy to have one of those birds in my lens let alone two, terrific shots.
    Not to mention all the other pics.
    All the best Gordon.

  16. Your eagles have more spunk than our wedge-tails, our largest raptor. I have seen then again and again chased away by magpies and/or crows. Love all your flora. It is good to see that there are still peaceful places like this in the world.

    • Many times the eagles will fly away when harassed but I think this fellow got fed up and flexed his muscles! Thank you for your visit!

  17. Beautiful photos. I love the picture of the Sandhill Crane.

  18. Looks like a nice place. Love the swallow tail kite. I still haven’t seen them this year yet.

  19. the eagle is wonderful – throw in the kite and WOW! loved the crane photo, too. beautiful area.

    and i saw my first firewheels here today, too.

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