“Not Much To See In This Park”

Marsh Wrens are small. About 4-5 inches long (10-14 cm). Their brown, black and white plumage helps them hide perfectly among the reeds and rushes of a wetland. I love their pugnacious attitude, typical of the wrens. In our area, we only get to enjoy them during migration and I find it a challenge to produce a decent photograph of the little beauties. So I was happy that Gini spotted one and even happier as it flew to the base of an Alligator Lily less than 50 feet away. I could see the stems of the plant moving as the wren moved around nabbing insects non-stop. Double-checked the camera settings, focused on the moving stems – now, if she’ll just hop up a little bit …

I heard the crunching gravel as he pulled the car to my side of the road. He approached to within a few feet of where I stood (camera poised), got out, closed the car door – the pretty Marsh Wren flew to Argentina – “Hey! How’s it going?”

Gini says I was rude. I think she was being sarcastic but she isn’t familiar with that mode of expression so I’m not sure. The camera with that big lens was getting heavy anyhow so I was relieved to be able to finally drop it to my side. (See? Subtle sarcasm. It’s a gift.) “What a beautiful day”, I offered in what I thought was a pleasant chamber-of-commerce tone.

“Yessir, a nice day. But there’s not much to see in this park,” said the stranger. This, I think, is where my bride might have construed rudeness on my part, but, honestly, I was just attempting (admittedly, with difficulty) to be civil. “It depends on what you’re looking for”, I suggested. “Oh, I’m just here for the deer. But not many around. Only saw a few a long way off.”

“Well, good luck to you”. As we drove away, the clueless gentleman peered intently into the weeds trying to fathom what I might have seen in there, his camera at the ready in case, no doubt, a deer should suddenly spring from the muck.

Despite this brief encounter, our day was filled with enjoyment. Bright blue skies, clear air, cool temperatures and an amazing amount of nature activity. Flocks of dozens of American Goldfinch were feeding in the fields and a few Pine Warblers were mixed in with them. Killdeer and Common Ground Dove greeted us at the entrance gate. Red-shouldered Hawks and an American Kestrel performed sentry duty along the park road. Wintering Savannah and Chipping Sparrows hopped through areas of short grass rounding up herds of bugs. Blue-headed Vireos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers scoured tree limbs and the underside of leaves for juicy morsels. Wading birds, woodpeckers, soaring vultures – sights and sounds to delight anyone who loves the natural world.

We even had cameo appearances of turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, bugs, hairy things and (shhh – don’t say anything to “you-know-who”) — d-e-e-r!

Today’s excursion was to a familiar spot not far from the house, Colt Creek State Park. We keep finding new areas to explore within the park.

It was the kind of day that as we drove past the ranger station and headed home we both exhaled deeply and in unison. This. This is why we keep coming back.

 

A few images can’t do justice to what we experienced, but we’ll include them just the same. No, there is no photograph of a Marsh Wren anywhere to be found here. How rude of you to even ask.

 

A Red-shouldered Hawk spotted movement at the base of his perch tree. Evidently, it wasn’t something he wanted as he resumed staring at me urging me to be on my way.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Just past the entrance gate, a Killdeer darted through the weeds snapping up anything that moved.

Colt Creek State Park

 

At the edge of a swampy area, a Gray Squirrel found a cypress knee makes a nice dry spot to munch a mushroom.

Colt Creek State Park

 

The frilly white flowers of this bush identify it as a Groundsel Tree (Baccharis halimifolia). A pretty spot for a pretty Palm Warbler to perch.

Colt Creek State Park

 

It was a chilly morning (for Florida) and a little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fluffed his feathers to the maximum in an effort to increase insulation.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were very active throughout the park. They seem to never stand still. Another species we only see in winter.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Yet another migratory visitor, the Eastern Phoebe had just dove into the weeds, caught a beetle and swallowed it before I could raise the camera. A seed on his bill was all that remained of his snack.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Why did the caterpillar cross the road? To have his photograph taken, of course! I think this fellow is a Salt Marsh Caterpillar (Estigmene acrea) ?? Any help would be appreciated.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Let’s just agree to call the Turkey Vulture’s appearance “unique”. Whatever you think of his looks, they are an impressive bird and I, for one, appreciate the valuable cleanup service they provide.

Colt Creek State Park

 

In addition to the park’s namesake, Colt Creek, another small waterway, Gator Creek, flows through the park. I thought this rock was a nice metaphor for life. Like the swiftly flowing water, life speeds around us on all sides but Gini is my rock. Together, we are immovable.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Even MORE winter visitors! American Robins, North America’s largest thrush, seemed to be everywhere in some areas. In the trees and all over the ground. Active, noisy, beautiful.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Cold-blooded creatures find a warm spot when the weather turns cool. This gorgeous Bluestripe Garter snake wasn’t about to give up her place in the sun for some guy flailing on the ground a few feet away.

Colt Creek State Park

 

As the sun continued to warm the air, insects became active. Hungry birds were ready. A Savannah Sparrow stopped just long enough to give me a quick glance before scurrying after little hopping things in the weeds.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Sometimes, karma slaps me in the head. My sarcastic nature (shocking, I know!) is often answered with some of the same. I think that’s what happened here. After my encounter with the visitor who “just came for the deer”, I almost couldn’t NOT see deer the rest of the day. Gini and I had a quiet lunch in the car watching birds hopping about in oak trees. As I got out of the car, six deer were in a clearing behind us calmly munching their own lunch. Later, a doe gazed at me from behind a thick curtain of sedge grass. I could make out two fawns beside her. Later still, a young buck with new spike antlers skulked at the edge of the woods, wary of what kind of threat I might present.

Yes, I am convinced God has a sense of humor. In my case, it is often wrapped lovingly with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

Colt Creek State Park

Colt Creek State Park

 

Even if you go “just for the deer”, try to observe all of Nature’s wonders that surround us all each day. Gini would say “it’s just common sense” that the more we look – the more we see. It’s my harsh task to remind her that “common sense”, alas, just is not all that “common”.

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Last night (1/20), we were treated to a total lunar eclipse. Just for you, I took a picture.

Yard

 

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on ““Not Much To See In This Park”

  1. noushka31

    HI Wally,
    Slowly getting over my last trip to Africa, I have had a look at your latest pictures, they are awesome!
    The Red-shouldered hawk looks so much like our Common buzzard that I really can’t tell them apart.
    you even managed to slip in a snake… long time time since I saw one.
    Congrats also for the moon shot, it is magnificent!
    All the best

    • Merci, Noushka! We have really been enjoying your safari posts!

      Thank you for your very nice comments. We see snakes quite often but seldom have one pose nicely!

      Gini and I hope you’re getting some rest and will have a fabulous week.

  2. Ah yes, the clueless unobservant observer. I know him or her well. Usually with a noisy, sniffing or jumping dog in tow. If only they had the eyes and/or intelligence of your vulture the world would be a happier place. Like you Wally I try harder the minute they leave me alone.

    That lunar eclipse woke me up by shining pink light through the bedroom blind but I was so tired I just cuddled up and drifted off back to sleep. Some things are more magic than others Wally?

    Best regards to all in warm FL. Think of us – minus 6 just the other morning

    • Minus 6?!? In England?? Must be that global warming thing.

      I have posted a stern letter to space agencies around the planet requesting they take immediate action to erect a curtain around the moon in order that exceptional humans no longer be rudely awakened by lunar glare, no matter what color it may be!

      Try to persevere, Phil. Spring is not all that distant.

  3. Richard Pegler

    If ever I have the pleasure of meeting you, Wally, I see I shall have to be careful to not get on the wrong side of that sharp wit of yours. There are times when I go out with the objective of focussing on a particular subject and find myself charging through the countryside (albeit, at a pace more akin to that of a snail) relatively blinkered, until I reach my chosen location – possibly emulating your ‘deer man’. However, even when on such a mission, I often find myself photographically distracted by any wildlife that moves, or (even easier) doesn’t move! More often than not, however, and to a growing extent, I find myself photographing fauna (and even flora!) in general. There’s just so much of beauty and wonderment out there! – as this delightful post from you bears witness!

    My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard

    • No worries, Richard! The edges of my “sharp” wit have sufficiently dulled with age as to be fairly harmless.

      Your kind remarks are greatly appreciated. Gini is recovering today from cataract surgery so Mother Nature’s creatures are safe from our intrusion for a few days.

      All the best to you and Lindsay!

  4. Nice post – always good to find things on your local patch – when people come over to ask what I am am photographing, my temptation is to say “well, I was photographing ……….., but not any more!” – but my English good manners prevent me from doing so! (Well, so far anyway!)

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    PS: sorry for slow reply, I have been away.

    • Your kind remarks are always appreciated, Stewart! My experience has been that the type of person who will interrupt your photography will not comprehend your rudeness so I assault them with kindness, content in the knowledge they will not understand the underlying sarcasm either!

      Welcome home! Hope your summer down under has not been overly brutal.

  5. Not much to see? Sigh. And echoing dinahmow.
    Loved viewing your nothing much, and was particuraly taken with the blue-grey Gnatcatcher who looked to have swallowed a ping-pong ball.

    • Thank you EC! The little gnatcatchers are normally very sleek looking so this one caught my eye. I should have offered her some coffee.

  6. Silly deer man. It’s down to people with narrow views that we (all of us!) often end up with a government focussed on only one thing.

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