Posted on April 5, 2018
It’s been several weeks since our return from Florida. For the last few years we’ve been blessed to travel to various state parks exploring nature and the area’s natural beauty. I’ve chosen to post a few of my favorite photos from this years trip. A following post will include some of my wife’s favorite photos. Photos are favorites, when they capture the unique beauty of a creature, are of something not seen before, or contribute in some way to the story. Favorites need not always be great photographs.
The parks visited over a period of eight weeks were: Myakka River State Park, Kissimmee Prairie State Park, Lake Kissimmee State Park, Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park, Ochlocknee River State Park, and Three Rivers State Park. The idea was to start south and work our way north as the weather warmed going into early spring.
This year we used bikes for the first time to initially explore trails which we could then hike if they looked promising. This coupled with the use of a canoe allowed us to spend time in a number of different Florida environments. On long hikes or bike rides our “go to” camera was the Panasonic FZ200. In the canoe or on shorter hikes we used DSLRs with telephoto zooms.
Myakka River State Park has been a favorite for the past two years primarily because of the potential for nature/bird photography. Paddling can be enjoyable if you and your partner(s) don’t mind being in close proximity to some rather large gators. The distance one can paddle within the park may be limited depending on water conditions and your determination. Hiking is good with some trails traversing more diverse habitat than others.
Kissimmee Prairie State Park was a new park for us this year. The main draw was the chance to see Crested Caracara as well as Burrowing Owls. The trails, while extensive, were often under water. A trail capable bicycle is almost essential if you really want to explore the park. While no Burrowing Owls were seen, a Black-crowned Night Heron rockery as well as other bird species made the stay worthwhile.
Lake Kissimmee State Park is a favorite offering fairly extensive paddling and hiking opportunities. Nature viewing, while not as concentrated an experience as Myakka River, is very good. Campsites are some of the best in Florida. The only downside is airboat noise on the weekend and make no mistake they are load.
Payne’s Prairie Preserve State park was a new park for us this year. With it’s extensive area we hoped to see a variety of wildlife. Of interest is the fact that the park maintains herds of Spanish Horses as well as Bison. Many waterfowl had already departed on their journey north when we were there.
For a number of years Ochlocknee River SP has been one of our favorite parks due to it’s potential for paddling as will as the close proximity of other areas of interest for the birder and nature lover; Bald Point SP and St Marks NWR. Hiking in the park itself, while not extensive, does provide the opportunity to see the threatened Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
Three Rivers SP was a new park for us this year and was selected primarily for it’s paddling potential. The lake was fairly open and much of the shoreline was shallow and weed choked making it less than ideal for paddling. Due to the lakes huge area wildlife was well dispersed making viewing a bit of a challenge. It was an excellent area for butterflies with some good, if not extensive, hiking trails.
That’s it for this post. Many other pictures could have been posted but if you made it this far I’m impressed with your forbearance. Looking back on our experience, we’re reminded what an unbelievably beautiful but fragile resource Florida’s natural areas are. As one drives the highways of the state signs of new or proposed development are not uncommon so pressure on limited resources continues.
When I started out taking pictures years ago I was fascinated with light and composition as subjects of interest were photographed. It was rewarding to make the effort to capture what was being experienced when looking at a scene. A big fringe benefit, and true blessing, has been a heightened curiosity about the world around me. What is that bird or bug that was just photographed, what is significant about it, and why does it matter. The world is much bigger now.
Thanks for stopped by
Category: Central Ohio Nature, Florida, Hiking, Kissimmee Prairie SP, Lake Kissimmee SP, Nature Photography, Ochlocknee River SP, Payne's Prairie Preserve SP, photography, Three Rivers SP Tagged: Alligator, Anhinga, Anole, Bald Eagle, Black Swallowtail, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue-winged Teal, Brown Pelican, Brown Thrasher, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm, Canon 80D Sigma 150-600mm lens, Common Loon, Crested Caracara, Crimson Clover, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Eastern Towhee, Florida Banded Water Snake, Florida Tassel, Glossy Ibis, Gopher Tortoise, Greater Yellowlegs, Green Heron, Least Terns, Lesser Yellowlegs, Little Blue Heron, Loggerhead Shrike, Marbled Godwit, Northern Parula Warbler, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Panasonic FZ200, Panasonic Lumix G7 100-400mm, Pine Warbler, Pipevine Swallowtail, Purple Gallinule, Rain Lily, Red Buckeye, Red-cockaded woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, Roseate Spoonbill, Royal Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Snowy Egret, Snowy Plover, Song Sparrow, Spanish Horse, Tricolored Heron, White Peacock Butterfly, White Pelican, White Squirrel, White-eyed Vireo, Wood Stork, Yellow Rat Snake, Zebra Swallowtail
Posted on March 14, 2014
This will be the last post for a while that discusses a natural area other than one located in Ohio. The pictures are from a visit to Lovers Key State Park near Fort Meyers, Florida during a recent trip south to escape the winter cold in Ohio. Our visit consisted of a paddle in the Mangroves and then a walk along the beach to look for shells and whatever else there was to see.
We decided to paddle first hoping that, because it was earlier in the day, we might see more birds and other critters. We took advantage of a beautiful five mile “paddle only” trail within the park that provided views of herons and Ibises, however no Manatees were seen.
The beach was also beautiful and turned out to be relatively unpopulated even though our visit was on the weekend. Shorebirds seemed to be very acclimated to people so a photograph didn’t require a long telephoto. When not being amused by the birds we did have some luck finding interesting shells.
We started seeing shorebirds almost immediately:
A beautiful day and a beautiful beach:
We returned to the frozen north to soon but given the birds and other wildlife that can be observed in this area of Florida, it could well become a yearly destination.
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