Mid-May at Turkey Creek

I went out to Turkey Creek this morning with the threat of rain looming ahead, but the morning seemed nice enough. The birding was a bit flat most of the morning, but I had a nice outing.

The Sand Pine Ridge Trail was quiet for most of the length. At the western end, some activity picked up with a couple of female American Redstarts flitting in the brush. As I stepped onto the boardwalk at that end, I could here some warblers calling ahead in the canopy. At the first creek overlook, I saw some adult Northern Parulas feeding their fledgling chicks. I tried to get some photographs, but the brush was too thick and they were moving too fast. It was really neat, though, to see the chicks in almost full adult plumage. 

A bit further down, a White-eyed Viero began calling, rather frantically. As I watched from the end of the boardwalk, I could see an argument brewing between the vireo and a pair of parulas. I don’t know what got everyone so worked up, but I didn’t realize such small birds could make that much noise!

After they calmed down, I traversed the rest of the boardwalk in comparative silence. I could here the ubiquitous Northern Cardinals off in the distance, and the insect noise was quite loud.

The creek was very pretty, especially as the water level is up a bit from my last visit.

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Turkey creek by Tree House

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One of the creek loops.

As I rounded one part of the boardwalk toward the canoe deck, I surprised a family of raccoons. Before they could all run off, I got a quick photo of one.

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Baby racoon watching mom and sibs trot off.

The paths near McKinnon’s Way and the jogging trail were quiet, but I caught some very brief glimpses of more American Redstarts. Near the Harris radio tower I came across a rather handsome Gopher Tortoise!

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“I *am* smiling!”

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For anyone wondering where these venerable creatures live, here’s a shot of a Gopher Tortoise hole I took a little later in my walk

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“Home sweet home.”

Click here if you want to see a shot with the inside a bit visible.

Near the Scrub Trail I came across a couple of interesting critters. First was this Six Lined Racerunner (actual name!) checking me out. I found out that these lizards can run 18 miles-per-hour! Not bad for animal under a foot long!

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Six Lined Racerunner, racing stripes standard.

Then there was this creepy fly. It’s hard to tell by the photograph, but it was about 3.5cm long (almost 1.5in). Apparently it (she?) was laying eggs in the sand. You can see her abdomen curled down and the tip stuck in the sand.

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Creepy fly. Not much else to say.

Squirrels were abundant, quietly gathering food. This one’s tail is a bit sparse, but he seemed happy enough.

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Got nuts?

I circled back to McKinnon’s Way, passing this prickly pear cactus.

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Yes, Florida does have cacti.

This lovely flowering bush was pretty.

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Colorful finale.

At this point, the few intermittent sprinkles gave way to more steady rain and some thunder, so I made my way out of the park to head home.

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