Lunch And A Matinee

Human beings like to be entertained.  Cave men whiled away the time between hunting and gathering by covering the walls of their homes with drawings.  Plays were staged to take our minds off the troubles of the day.  “Moving pictures” transformed entire societies and new industries were developed to satiate our ever-increasing desire for diversion.  If you question whether we are addicted to being entertained, try unplugging the televisions and computers in all our homes for a few hours and see how quickly rioting in the streets will begin.

Fortunately, I married wisely.  Gini is as easily entertained by the song of an Eastern Meadowlark as she would be by attending an orchestral performance of Mozart’s greatest hits.  We seem to find so much in Nature at which to marvel, it just doesn’t matter if we’re missing a favorite television show.  Besides, that’s why recording was invented!

Well, we lollygagged all morning on Peavine Trail (see our previous post “Happiness Is A Dirt Road”) and it was already time for lunch.  We drove to Overstreet Landing on the eastern shore of Lake Kissimmee which is always a treat because to get there you have to travel Overstreet Road.  This gives us the opportunity to view vast pastures, grasslands and sod farms.  The open area is richly populated with Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, Bald Eagles, Wild Turkeys, Northern Bobwhites, White and Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret and soaring Vultures.  With the fall migration, we also saw Savannah Sparrows, Palm Warblers and a Northern Harrier.

When we arrived at the shore of the lake, we parked under the welcoming branches of an oak tree, opened all the windows and doors of the truck so we could enjoy the breeze coming off the lake and prepared to enjoy our sandwiches with an unparalleled view of premier lake, prairie and grassland habitat.  We were soon joined by a Turkey Vulture who brought his own lunch of a decaying catfish carcass and settled on a fence post not far from us.  All present enjoyed a fine meal, peace and quiet.

After lunch, we spotted a Snail Kite in the distance hovering over the grass in the lake looking for the Apple Snail which makes up its diet almost exclusively.  A large flock of Cattle Egret flew in front of us, a Little Blue Heron hunted stealthily in the shallows and a group of four Wilson’s Snipe sprang into the air, startled by an incoming boat.

We drove a short distance to the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area and poked slowly along the rough dirt roads through scrub woods, long-leaf pines, palmetto, cypress domes* (see “Additional Resources”) and a long stretch of dry grass prairie.  Along the way, we tallied 40 species of birds and even found a few fall warblers:  Palm, Pine, Prairie, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped.  A creek crossing produced a pair of Wood Ducks, Snowy and Great Egrets, Tricolored and Great Blue Herons and a Limpkin.  We found several American Kestrels and Eastern Phoebes taking advantage of millions of insects.  A lone pine tree in the prairie contained a large nest used by Bald Eagles last year to raise a family.  It seemed empty, but may be taken over soon by a Great Horned Owl.  We’ll check next month.

As the sun began to cast long shadows, we turned onto the paved road and spotted a group of Wild Turkeys, the strong light showing off the iridescence of their plumage.  The evening sky displayed colors no artist could duplicate.  As the curtain of night began to lower on our day, hundreds of Glossy Ibis headed to their roost.  We did the same.

We didn’t get a lot of useable photographs due to the time of day and position of the sun but here are a few images which may give you a flavor of our afternoon.

Our lunch guest.  The portion of the brain which detects smell is relatively large in the Turkey Vulture and they can detect carrion below a forest canopy.  And they’re so cute.  Besides who can argue with such an elegant scientific name?  Cathartes auraroughly translated as “Golden Purifier”!

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

 

The lakeside venue for our picnic included a panorama of lake, marsh, grassland, cattle egrets in flight – oh, yes – and a contented vulture.

Cattle Egret, Turkey Vulture

Cattle Egret, Turkey Vulture

 

A stealthy approach will yield results for this very patient Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 

These pretty white blossoms are called Short Leaf Rose Gentian.  Stars scattered along our path.

Short Leaf Rose Gentian (Sabatia brevifolia)

Short Leaf Rose Gentian (Sabatia brevifolia)

 

Very small but very attractive is the Southern Fleabane.  (Please let me know if this is a different species.)

Southern Fleabane (Erigeron quercifolius) (?)

Southern Fleabane (Erigeron quercifolius) (?)

Our matinee was in living technicolor.  A Cloudless Sulphur extracting sweet nectar from Britton’s Wild Petunia.  Unfortunately, this is a very prolific invasive plant which has been vigorously marketed by nurseries as a “Mexican Petunia” and is driving out native plants throughout the region.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) on Britton's Wild Petunia (Ruellia simplex) - "Mexican Petunia" - Invasive Plant

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) on Britton’s Wild Petunia (Ruellia simplex) – “Mexican Petunia” – Invasive Plant

A lone pine tree in the prairie made a fine place for Bald Eagles to nest last year.

Bald Eagle Nest

Bald Eagle Nest

My camera lens will get dirty from time to time, but in this case, all the specks are flying insects.  Which is precisely why this happy Eastern Phoebe is perched in this location!

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Limpkins always remind me of something almost prehistoric, especially their calls to each other at dawn and dusk.  (Hear their call:  http://www.xeno-canto.org/102268.)  These birds have especially designed bills for opening Apple Snails and extracting the meat.

Limpkin

Limpkin

An example of the type of dry grass prairie which once stretched across a large part of Florida.

Prairie

Prairie

Cypress domes dot this area and provide refuge for an amazing variety of wildlife.  *(See Additional Resources.)

Cypress Dome

Cypress Dome

A Northern Mockingbird bid us farewell as we prepared to head home.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Wild Turkeys are highlighted in the strong light of the setting sun.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Nature provides the ultimate in “wide-screen” entertainment!

Prairie Sunset

Prairie Sunset

Glossy Ibis heading to a roost just after sunset.

Prairie Sunset

Prairie Sunset

We enjoy entertainment just as much as anyone.  It’s just that all the best stuff seems to be beyond the reach of an extension cord.  And when the power goes off, we won’t be all that upset.

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

Additional Resources:

Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area and Prairie Lakes Unit

(NOTE:  If you visit the Three Lakes WMA, check their website listed above for hunting dates.  If you venture afield during scheduled hunting times, be careful and wear an orange vest!  Be safe!)

*Cypress domes are stands of trees growing in a low place which usually stays wet year round.  The depression is lowest near the center of the dome and those trees grow more vigorously than the surrounding ones, thus creating the “dome” shape.

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 65 Comments

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65 thoughts on “Lunch And A Matinee

  1. A matinee, and I forgot to bring the popcorn. I was so enthralled with that unusual purple flower that I nearly missed the butterfly!

  2. Thanks so much for your comments on my blog…I always enjoy the photos you do but these are really entertaining! And the vultures look entertained also.

  3. All your photos are great, but I really like the way you captured the black plumage of the vulture.

  4. Ron Dudley

    “It’s just that all the best stuff seems to be beyond the reach of an extension cord”.

    Ahh, Wally – we’re so much alike in many ways. My sentiment exactly. And you found more dirt roads! Interesting explanation of the cypress domes at the end – I didn’t know that. Neat post!

  5. I always feel like if I’m not careful vultures will assume I’m on the menu. I like to stay alert around those buggers.

  6. fine images of great birds. Love the vulture and limpkin. Nice scenarey too.

  7. Wow, I thought I was the only one left who lollygagged!! Your photos are just gorgeous. Love the little star flowers and the nest!

  8. I always tell Bill how lucky he is that I’m so easily entertained! (Really, I am … and we don’t see nearly as much wonderful nature as you two do!). But I don’t care much about TV at all.

  9. Quiet contemplation of the Prairie landscape made my rainy morning even better. Simply beautiful, Wally.

  10. I do like the dirty lens shot! And I want to see a Limpkin – they look like a good value bird!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    PS; Feel free to steal the line!

  11. Hi Wally. I’ve been trying to find a route to your blog for ages now, but I’ve now figured it out – I think! Just have to try and remember the tortuous route I took to get there!

    This is an inspiring post with great visual and verbal images. The whole area looks as if it’s a beautiful place to connect with nature. Overstreet Road sounds like it’s the sort of place I’d find difficult to tear myself away from! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Richard, very sorry you’ve had a problem getting here! You should be able to reach us directly at .

      Thanks so much for the kind remarks! It’s a great place and, yes, very hard to tear oneself away!

  12. That’s some picnic Wally. Never mind the sarnies, I’m with you and watching those Turkey Vultures and I wish my eyesight was a fraction of there binocular vision. the marshland looks a little like Pilling except you have birds we don’t. Cracking shot of a Limpkin and today your panoramic landscape photos nearly eclipsed those of your bird pics.

  13. Fantastic series of beautiful photos. I love the Turkey Vulture.

  14. Gorgeous scenery and photos. The birds are awesome captures and the flowers are lovely. A great post, Wally!

  15. Hi Wally!
    What an interesting post again!
    I love to discover the fauna, landscapes and gorgeous sunsets (or rises!) you show us!
    And your enthusiasm would be quite contagious would I not share it already since times immemorial! LOL!!!
    I would love to see those wild turkeys, their plumage in the sun is a absolute wonder.
    Cheers, keep well!

  16. LizSB

    Wow!! What a great series of images, Wally!!
    I love the Vulture (quite imposing), the Blue Heron & that Limpkin really does have a prehistoric look about him. Gorgeous landscapes, and those clouds are so beautiful!

  17. Fantastic photos! I love the vulture, heron, and limpkin!

  18. What a wonderful story you have here. I enjoyed the trek and the amazing birds!!! I’m always dreamed of seeing a Limpkin. You have some amazing birds here. Thank you for sharing this space.

  19. Nature is my favourite form of entertainment! Fab shots, that turkey vulture is awesome, beautiful scenery, and an awesome sunset!

  20. I really appreciate reading your posts. You are helping me see the beauty of Florida through your eyes. I know how to see Michigan but Florida is still pretty foreign to me. Thanks for your love of Florida.

    • Pat, we hope you’re able to reach a point where you can enjoy our state’s natural beauty. It’s the same as anywhere else, we just have to learn where to look to find what we like!

  21. What a close up of the face of the turkey vulture. They are even more alien looking than I thought. 🙂
    Your bird shots are always some of my favorites and today you’ve showcased some lovely landscape and sky shots as well – beautiful!
    I keep looking at your fleabane flower. When I first saw it I thought aster but I don’t know for sure. It’s a lovely framed shot!

    • Thank you, Carletta! The Southern Fleabane (also known as Oakleaf Fleabane) is, indeed, a member of the Aster family. There are many species within the family and I certainly may not be correct in naming this one!

  22. Your pictures are awesome in their clarity and beauty. All are such a treat for the eyes. We hear wild turkeys all the time out here on the old farm, but never have I been in the situation where I could get a capture like yours. I cannot wait to share it with Bud.

    • When we first saw those turkeys there were 12 of them. Most slipped into the undergrowth but these three seemed confused. That’s the way Thanksgiving Dinners happen! 🙂

  23. always such great value posts Wally! I love the Limpkin. You’re so right, getting out there amongst it all is the best show going.

  24. Well, you sold me … I would join you in a minute to see all of your beautiful wildlife and fauna … You should be publishing a travel magazine … your pictures are breath taking and just my kind of show. I have a great love for the Turkey Vulture as I have worked with them in rehab and they are very social, clever and funny to play with. In the wild, not so much, but the propensity is there. Thank you for this lovely tour … my appetite is satisfied.

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  25. Gorgeous photos! Incredibly beautiful skies.

  26. A wonderful selection of photos!

  27. Me and your lovely Gini would get along really well. We both enjoy the song of a meadowlark.

    Your photos, Wally, are superior.

  28. A great series of very beautiful photos. I agree – I’d rather find my entertainment outside rather than on the end of a cable – except for blogging of course 🙂

  29. HI Wally What a superb post of beautiful photographs and commentary..

  30. Wally, one of these days, it will be easy for me to choose a favorite of your images, but you do such a great job, you make it impossible for me to do so…splendid as always!

  31. just a beautiful set to show a good day. love the limpkin! wow! and love the wrinkly head of the turkey vulture. 🙂 i have been enjoying the song of the meadowlark here for the past 2 weeks. so lovely.

  32. Brilliant post, superb variety of landscape, Flora and fauna. Great commentary too

  33. Gorgeous sky shots, Wally! Love the limpkin, too. So much beauty to soak in where you live. 🙂

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