Journeying On Through Florida

After leaving Lake Kissimmee State Park we headed north, ran the Orlando metro area traffic gauntlet, and arrived at Blue Springs State Park which was a new park for us. After spending a week there we would take relatively quiet back roads further north to Mike Roess State Park. The two parks couldn’t be more different. Blue Springs is a heavily used “day use” park with a small campground near Orlando while the larger Mike Roess SP was quiet and lightly used during our stay. Part of the popularity of Blue Springs can be attributed to the Manatees that inhabit the springs during the winter months and which had started to leave while we were there due to warmer weather. When one ventured away from the campground after mid-morning parking lots were pretty much full and there were always more than enough people in the park’s general use areas. However, once on the water paddling into a secluded creek or cove things changed dramatically and the area felt like wilderness.

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The big find while hiking the parks limited trails was the endangered Scrub Jay which is a bird we’ve been in search of for some time without success. Habitat destruction appears to be the main reason for its decline.

Scrub Jay.

Another look.

Yellow Star Grass occurred periodically along the trail in single blossoms.

This Eastern Towhee was seen in the same scrub habitat as the jay, (Donna).

This Pileated Woodpecker was also seen along the trail as we searched for the Scrub Jays, (Donna).

Spiderwort.

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St Johns River near Blue Springs SP.

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The extensive wildlife seen while canoeing was the big draw at Blue Springs SP. Our favorite paddle was the eleven mile loop that incorporated Snake Creek. The creek is a true celebration of the richness and beauty of nature.

A small alligator checks us out, (Donna).

An immature Black Crowned Night Heron along Snake Creek, (Donna).

A Great Egret watches as we pass by.

St Johns River.

Florida Cooters,  (Donna).

Wood Stork, (Donna).

Black Crowned Night Heron along the St Johns River.

Little Blue Heron in the thick of it.

Snake Creek provided an intimate paddling experience.

Purple Gallinule eating flower petals, St Johns River.

While paddling Snake Creek we came upon this mating pair at Turkeys. The male seemed not to be bothered by our presence.

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Cypress

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A Tree frog at water’s edge, (Donna)

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St Johns River.

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American Bittern along the St Johns River.

Osprey with fish.

Little Blue Heron preening.

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Although they are common, Anhingas always catch our eye.

Male Anhinga dries it’s feathers along the St Johns River.

Preening.

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St Johns river landscape.

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A Snowy Egret shows off its yellow feet, (Donna).

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Unlike Blue Springs which provided excellent opportunities to observe wildlife from the water, hiking was the best way to do so at Mike Roess SP. A plus was that there were no crowed parking lots or large numbers of people to negotiate when one left the campground. There were areas to explore around the park’s several small lakes and along one fairly long designated hiking trail. We enjoyed the park’s quiet subtle beauty.

Mike Roess SP landscape.

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Walking the shoreline of the parks small lakes was an excellent way to see insects. Some of the dragonflies and damselflies seen were new to us.

Vesper Bluet Damselfly, (Donna).

The Variable Dancer Damselfly is one we haven’t seen further north in Ohio.

Carolina Saddlebags, (Donna).

Female Faded Pennant, (Donna).

Male Faded Pennant.

Slaty Skimmer, (Donna).

The Stripe-winged Baskettail is another dragonfly we’ve not seen further north in Ohio.

The Blue Corporal often perches on the ground, (adult male).

The Buckeye is usually seen in late summer in Ohio.

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Pond reflection.

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In addition to the insects there were birds to enjoy:

Hermit Thrush.

A Hooded Merganser and a Wood Duck pose.

There was a sizable population of Ring-necked Ducks on the small park lakes.

A closer look.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Pied Billed Grebes

A White Eyed Vireo announces its presence.

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Shoreline grass.

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As well as other things:

Cricket Frog at waters edge, (Donna).

Unfortunately these lovely but uncommon little flowers that liked the park’s sandy soil remain unidentified.

A Fence Lizard shows it’s underside, (Donna).

Lichen on fallen branch.

A Gopher Tortoise enjoys some grass, (Donna).

Trees.

Pinebarren Frostweed.

A Five Lined Skink shows its beautiful tail, (Donna)

A Long Leaf Pine just starting out.

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Leaving Mike Roess we’d completed six weeks of exploring nature in Florida. As we looked forward to spending time at Paynes Prairie Preserve and Black River SP before heading north to early spring in Ohio we couldn’t help but feel incredibly blessed.

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Lily Pads

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Little North of Ohio, Part 3 of 3, Hiking in Algonquin

As mentioned in an earlier post, our time in Algonquin Provincial Park was split pretty much evenly between paddling and hiking. The trails we hiked, Beaver Pond, Mizzy Lake, Lookout, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and Bat Lake  were all a short drive on Hwy 60 from our campsite at Pog Lake along the park’s southern edge.

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Most of the trails go through very biologically diverse areas with fascinating flowers, fungi and forest floor creatures. While the trails are not especially difficult, good hiking shoes, lightweight slacks and a long sleeve shirt, and insect repellent, especially in the early summer, will make the experience a lot more enjoyable. To fully appreciate these places it’s a good idea to allow enough time so you can really look around otherwise you’ll be missing most of what’s going on.

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Below is a record of some of the things we saw:

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On you way to hike there’s always the chance you may have to rescue something.

Rescuing a Snapper

Hwy 60 Snapper

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The trails were varied with the woods often opening up into some beautiful views.

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Mizzy Lake trail.

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Wetland, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Different types of fungi were everywhere.

mushroom family 1 062315 Mizzy Lake Trail cp1 csb1

Mushroom Family, (Donna)

Ling Chih P1030301

Unidentified Fungus

Finger Fungi P1030625

Finger Fungus

Cup Fungi P1030527

Cup Fungi

Butterscotch Mushroom family 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Butterscotch Mushrooms, (Donna)

Red Mushroom 062115 Algonquin

Red Mushroom, (Donna)

yellow-orange fly agaric 062115 Algonquin   csb1

Yellow-orange Fly Agaric, (Donna)

Yellow tongue fungus 062315 Lake Mizzy Trail cp1

Swamp Beacons fungus, (Donna)

witches butter 062315 Algonquin cp1

Witches Butter, (Donna)

Sphagnum-bog Galerina 062315

Sphagnum-bog Galerina, (Donna)

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Ling Chih Fungus

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Slug on Comb Tooth Fungus

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Pinwheel Marasmius  Mushroom

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Unidentified shelf Fungus

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.   .   .  and lichen too!

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Lung Lichen

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Common Button Lichen

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Unidentified Lichen

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Pixie Cup Lichen

British Soldier Lichen 1 062315 Mizzy Lake Trail cp1

British Soldier Lichen, (Donna)

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By late June many of the orchids have already come and gone. However, we were fortunate to see a few.

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Lady slipper along the trail, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Lady Slipper, showing leaves.

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A nice group.

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There were other flowers and plants to fascinate.

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Blue Flag Iris

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Lilly Pads

Corn Lily P1030476

Corn Lily

Coralroot 062115 Alqonquin cp1

Coralroot, (Donna)

Common Wood-Sorrel 2 better 1 062015 Algonqun hike   cp1

Common Wood-Sorrel, (Donna)

Yellow Parasitic plants 1 062015 Algonquin csb1

Yellow Parasitic plants, (Donna)

Twinflower 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Twinflower, (Donna)

Spiral Ferns 1 062015 Algonquin hike csb1

Spiral Ferns, (Donna)

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Moss fruiting bodies

P1030523

?

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Leaves

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Pale Laurel Fowers like very wet araes.

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Bunch Berries

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Hawkweed

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Pale Corydalis

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It doesn’t seem like you can go anywhere in Algonquin without seeing Sundew.

sun P1030617

Sundew

sun dews 2 better 1 062415 Costello Creek cp1

A closer look, (Donna)

sun P1030419use

Closer yet.

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We had high expectations of seeing and photographing warblers. Birds were heard, especially Winter Wrens, but because of the leaf cover few were seen (we did manage to see Magnolias, Northern Parulas, and Yellow-rumps)  but few were photographed.

Red-eyed Vireo 062415 Algonquin Pog Lake campground    cp1

Red-eyed Vireo, (Donna)

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Along the trail we were never far from the “handiwork” of beavers.

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Beaver dam, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver dam, Beaver Pond Trail.

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.   .   .   and the beavers themselves.

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Beaver family, Mizzy Lake Trail.

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Moose are also fairly easy to spot in late June.

Moose P1040783

Bull Moose along Hwy 60, (Ben)

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We were always on the lookout for dragonflies, moths and butterflies. Sometimes they cooperated.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 2 on flower 1 062115 Algonquin   cp1

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

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Catching sunlight in a pine, a White Admiral catches our eye.

Common Wood-Nymph 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna)

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Snail on the forest floor.

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With flowing water everywhere .   .   .

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Reflections, Bat Lake Trail

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Flowing towards a larger stream

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Water, moss, leaves, rocks

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The trails could be wet.

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Mizzy Lake Trail

Ben at Bat Lake boardwalk 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Bat Lake Trail Boardwalk, (Donna)

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The toads and frogs didn’t seem to mind.

Toad Emily

American Toad, (Emily)

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Wood Frog

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Green Frog

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Waiting for lunch.

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If no flower, insect reptile amphibian or other creature caught our attention there was always the scenery.

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Pond, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver Pond

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Hiking around Pog Lake

Bob on top of Lookout trail 062115 Algonquin csb1

Lookout Trail overlook, (Donna)

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Stream, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Fallen tree,

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Campsite, Pog lake

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Wetland, Spruce Bog Boardwalk

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Beaver lodge, Beaver Pond Trail

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Thanks for stopping by.

P1030654

Pog Lake

 

 

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