Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Frugal Outing: Richloam Wildlife Management Area

Greg wanted to take our son squirrel hunting this afternoon and invited me to come along.  I accepted because I wanted to see where they go and to take pictures of flora and whatever fauna we might happened to spot there.

Let me end the suspense here, no squirrels were hurt.  We did spot a couple of them, but they ran off before a single shot could ring.

We also spotted a couple of lady turkeys, twice!  Unfortunately, they were too far away (and we were driving) so I didn't manage to take a good photo. I was also unable to take any pictures of the many Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies that we saw alongside the General Van Fleet Trail, because they were fleeting from flower to flower and my camera wouldn't focus on them!

We only stayed about an hour. It was hot and muggy. We did hear some gunshots in the distance, but we only saw one other person. It was nice being outside on our own :)

This was a very frugal outing since it didn't cost us anything, apart from the gas to get there (it's about 10 miles from our house).  We all brought water and I had a couple of peanut butter crackers in my belly pack, along with bug spray and sunscreen too.

Driving to the Richloam WMA
It is located in the Withlacoochee State Forest
Not much to be seen in the wildlife management area itself, apart from a lot of trees and a lot of trash.  Good grief, people are gross.  Next time I'm bringing a pair of gloves and some trashbags!  

Now I will say that every time we were driving, the bottles that I saw on the side of the road were Coke products but Greg wouldn't stop for me to get the codes. Grrr. And every time we were walking and there were discarded soda bottles, they were always Pepsi products. Double grrr.

It had rained a lot these past couple of days so a lot of the dirt roads going into the forest just weren't passable because there were huge lakes of water across them.  So we just parked at the entrance of the road, to the side, and made our way into the forest, but each time we just went about 100 to 200 ft only.  There just was nothing.  This isn't a gorgeous forest.  It's lots of pine trees and brush. It makes it very hard to see anything. I could hear birds here and there, and I had brought binoculars, but I didn't spot any of them!

These 2 trees had completely lost their bark.  I couldn't tell what kind of trees they were.

This was at one of the campgrounds.  To Greg's surprise, no one was camping today. But since it's Easter Sunday, I'm thinking it's not so surprising.  It's still turkey hunting season but apparently only until 1 p.m.

I really like those huge oak trees

A wasp nest had been knocked to the ground. Greg said that the last time they were in the woods, they passed a tree where there must have been a huge wasp or hornest nest because the buzzing sound was very very loud. I'm glad they weren't attacked!

In a clearing near the campsite, I spotted these little surprises... can guess what they are?

According to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida handbook, they're Prickly Pears!  Researching their latin name, though, Opuntia humifusa, I learned that they're actually called Devil's Tongue, Easter Prickly Pear, or Indian Fig, and its fruit are edible.

Leaving the campground area, we saw two female wild turkeys in the road (we had seen them driving there too and I hadn't managed to take a photo before they fled.  Unfortunately, we were too far away and one ran into the forest. I was able to take this picture but you really can't see it at all, darn it!
I found this flower on the ground, in the forest.  I couldn't figure out how it got there, since there weren't any others nearby. I suspected it fell from a tree.  It was pretty fragrant, for a small flower.   My Audubon guide told me this is a Yellow Jessamine and it comes from a climbing vine. And indeed. I found it under a large oak trees that had several (dead-looking) vines hanging from it!  Well darn it. it's poisonous (all parts of it!). Hmm, I ought to add handwash to my nature-hunting kit!
Speaking of poisonous, this also is.  It's called American Black Nightshade or Common Nightshade (solanum americanum). But I didn't touch this one!
Before heading into the Richloam WMA, you cross the General Van Fleet Trail and there's a trailhead right there. It has a small parking and a nice (new?) pavilion with a couple of picnic tables
and a small "pit stop".  No water fountain because it's in the middle of nowhere (about 10 miles south of SR 50 and 20 miles north of Dade City), The toilet is just a nice(r) port-a-potty.  But at least, it's there!  There are bike racks too.

We walked on the trail a little bit.  There was a lady biking all by herself. Now I feel like biking too!
I think I'm going to look for bikes for myself and my son, since he's going to need to do 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day for his H.O.P.E. class.  This trail is s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t!  Apparently there is only 1 curve in all of its 29.2 or so miles! This is looking North on the trail...

And this is looking South.  It would make for a boring walk, I think, but probably a good bike ride. Years ago a co-worker of mine used to bike at least 100 miles a day during the weekend and was telling me that he didn't like biking on the roads because of how dangerous it is here (car drivers don't like bikers here), so I had told him about the General Van Fleet Trail and he loved it.

I'm glad that they painted this on the road!  I wonder if there is one every mile.  We didn't walk a mile so I didn't get to check.

Walking back to the car, we saw this large gopher tortoise on the side of the trail.  He just sat there, no doing anything, just blinking at us. He was pretty large. I wonder how old he (or she) is.  I had a pet turtle when I was a child. We put it in the backyard so it could hibernate.  But it froze one year and my mom bought me another one.  I don't remember what happened to the 2nd one.

I spotted this flower behind the turtle. My guide tells me it's a Showy Crotalaria (crotalaria spectabilis) and it's from the pea family.

This is a Spatterdock or Yellow Pond Lily (nuphar luteum.
Arrgh, my camera didn't focus properly and I didn't realize it until I was home.  The side of the trail had a lot of those blue flowers but my Audubon guide didn't feature them. I had downloaded the Florida Nature Viewing app before we left and it informed me that these are Lyre-Leaf Sage and that they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. That would explain all those butterflies that we saw!

That was it for our short field trip.  Next time I'll bring a picnic along, it would have been nice to sit under the pavilion and enjoy a snack.  We saw a lot of cattle in the fields and baby cows too but my camera only managed to catch the many trashcans lined up alongside the road !

No cute baby cows for you!  I wouldn't mind living in that house all the way in the back, behind the trees. Despite all the trashcans, there didn't seem to be a lot of close neighbors around...
We also saw horses, donkeys, goats and sheep. We live in a rural county so it's not surprising.

On the side of the road we saw lots of phlox and lantana, it was very pretty.  I wish we had stopped so I could have taken photos :) Maybe next time!


  1. Pretty pics! I especially like the turtle :)

    1. Thanks Jess! I would have been very disappointed if we had only seen 2 squirrels, ha! I just wish I had been faster taking pictures of those darn turkeys!

  2. Looks like a fun day! We keep meaning to hike and/or bike our way around the state, visiting different forests and parks. We have mostly stuck to our region, though. One of our favorite places to hike is at the Guana Tolamato Matanzas Research Reserve (what a name, right?!); the hiking trails are nearby in Ponte Vedra and I think there are nine miles of trails, which is kind of unusual. Anyway, the last time we were there we saw a whole flock of wood storks, which was really cool! They do a lot of habitat restoration for various local flora and fauna, so we usually see something, but not usually that many.

    I'm not sure what happened to your comment that it didn't just automatically appear! I've approved both of them so I don't think you should run into that again. But who knows. I can only sporadically leave comments on blogspot blogs for some reason -- I'll type everything out and enter my profile and everything just disappears. So frustrating. I don't know why it happens -- I can comment one day and then not the next on the same blog. Ugh.

    1. There are so many places to explore in Florida, when you think of it... the problem is... most of the places that interest me always seem to be at the very least 2 hours away from there. Which is problematic for just a day trip.

      You're not the only one who has problems with Blogger comments, I'm not sure what the problem is either!

  3. Thank you for sharing pictures of your day out with us. I felt like I was right there, with you! Reminded me of the year my parents and I lived in Florida, back in the late 1970s! The two trees that had lost their bark are most likely a type of eucalyptus.

    1. You are a wealth of information! The trees were very tall and I couldn't see any of the foliage so looking them up wouldn't help I suppose. I will take your word for it :) Thanks!

      I remember reading that you lived in Florida for a while. Were you in the Jacksonville area? Maybe I'm misremembering it.

    2. Yes, I was in the Jacksonville area and later, moved closer to Gainsville.

  4. What a lovely day. Shooting photos was a lot more fun than shooting squirrels. I hope you are asked to accompany them again in the future.


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