“Visit today and experience our all-natural park that is popular with cross-country and other runners alike.”
Despite the gracious invitation of the Holloway Park website, running of any sort is not what attracted me to this 362 acre green area. I admire runners greatly. I just choose not to participate. (Okay, I choose not to due to immediate complaints from my feet, knees, hips, back and lungs.)
Surrounded on all sides by constant high-volume traffic and urban development, Holloway Park on Lakeland’s south side offers a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Before 1950, the spot was mined for phosphate. In the ensuing years it was left alone for nature to begin it’s reclamation process. The property owners, Mr. and Mrs. Holloway, generously provided the tract in 2010 for the creation of a natural recreational park. It’s primary attraction has been a venue for running events on most weekends. Given my aforementioned allergy to running, we visit on weekdays.
The park is not huge so it’s easy to walk the nicely maintained paths. There is a small pond, a stream, wetland area and section of mixed hardwood forest to explore. Open fields also attract several species of birds and insects during different times of the year.
This has always been a good spot to find dragonflies and birds and we looked forward to a nice morning. We were not disappointed. Birds were in short supply, but I managed my first decent images of the large darner dragonfly family. As our summer thunderstorm schedule is producing rain and lightning earlier in the day lately, we cut our visit a bit short as dark clouds began to blot out the light and large drops threatened to knock the cap off my head.
A beautiful female Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) soaks up the early sun to help dry her wings.
One of our most abundant dragonfly species, a male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) , looks a little worse for wear as wings show the effects of flying through the brush, mating and/or territorial combat.
Very soon, many of our song birds, like this Northern Parula, will be departing for their southern migration destinations.
Finally! I had hoped to find a darner today, and did! This gorgeous Blue-faced Darner (Coryphaeschna adnexa) was hanging around waiting for the morning sun to cause potential prey to become active. These dragons can reach 2.75 inches (70 mm) in length and normally fly continuously during daylight. I caught this one before its daily schedule started. (Thank you, Richard Pegler, Pegler Birding, for handing me a metric ruler to correct an error! – Visit his beautiful website when you have a chance!)
Spider webs throughout the park were loaded with dew and resembled nets, ready to snag any errant bug which stumbled into the trap.
Smaller than any other North American dragonfly, the female Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) has black spots on her wings whereas the males have clear wings.
A long and slender abdomen help identify the Pin-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis plebeja).
To paraphrase the great Ogden Nash, moulting is pretty revolting. That may explain the grumpy look from a Northern Cardinal.
This male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) simply refused to look my direction, but even from this angle, his bright blue and yellow is stunning.
Perched over water, a male Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida) guards his territory and remains alert for a potential meal.
Holloway Park is not vast, not famous and on weekends may be filled with people running for no apparent reason. However, it can truly be an oasis of relief for anyone wishing to escape the daily grind. If you are fortunate enough to have such a place where you live, go – breathe easy – observe nature, and, if you must, go for a run. I’ll sit here and cheer for you.
We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!