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|
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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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!