The only way to photograph within Florida’s state parks during the “golden hour” is to camp there the previous night. Opening time is 8:00 a.m. Our house is about 20 minutes from Colt Creek State Park. Camp out or miss the best light?
As we waited for the timed gate to open at precisely 8:00, Gini (who can actually hear) told me about the lovely chorus around us. White-eyed Vireo, an insistent Eastern Phoebe repeating his name, Northern Cardinals, American Crows and one of the local gang leaders, a Tufted Titmouse. The iron gate swung open and we forked over a couple of dollars to the congenial park ranger.
We made our way slowly along the park’s winding main road, noting a resident Red-shouldered Hawk, the methodical hammering of a Pileated Woodpecker and generally enjoying a beautiful morning outdoors. As we rounded a curve, a splash of red, orange and yellow slapped us in the face. This was unexpected!
Florida Sugar Maple, Red Maple and Bald Cypress on the edge of a swampy area were in full autumn display. Florida, it is often joked, has only two seasons: green and brown. We knew, of course, certain areas could be quite colorful but it has been rare that we have observed this much color in one spot. I hiked down to the shore of the park’s main lake and was stunned at how much color was visible!
We made our way through the park, stopping to explore trails and creeks and ending up at the end of the road where we enjoyed our simple breakfast. Along the way we spotted a white-tailed deer buck with impressive antlers. Not far away were a doe and two fawns. Plenty of birds kept us busy with binoculars and I kept finding colorful trees and leaves to photograph.
It was a good day. Our hope had been to see a few birds but we were surprised by an impromptu display of riotous (for Florida) color! We returned two days later and all the color was gone. Timing is everything.
Technicolor brought to you by Mother Nature.
The park’s main lake looks great all dressed up!
White Ibises in a bright blue sky made a nice addition to a colorful day.
Covered in duckweed and algae, Colt Creek’s green surface blends in with the surrounding woods and disappears in the distance.
A Little Blue and a Tricolored Heron enjoy the view from the lake’s fishing pier.
Wandering around the edges of the swamp reveals many wonderful sights, such as this unique cypress stump.
Aware of our presence, but not wanting to interrupt his meal, a White-tailed deer has an impressive set of antlers.
Near the ranger station at the park’s entrance, a Killdeer hunts for insect snacks.
Standing water in a swampy spot reflects the bright sky and colorful leaves litter the bottom of the slough.
Mac Lake never looked better!
Who could resist exploring such an inviting trail? Not me.
I know many areas have spectacular autumnal displays and the little bit of color we discovered may not be impressive to those who live in such places. For a couple of mid-Florida natives, though, we were happily surprised by our little accidental fall.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!