April « 2011 « verdure
Back it up
Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Caro Emerald makes me feel so monolingual.

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withlacoochee
Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

This trip had fantastic light. With it getting into the summer heat, we’re trying to time our adventures for early morning, which is also when more creatures are about, and the mist is rising to meet the soft light.

beaming

This trip was also two days after a huge rainstorm, the first summer storm. Our local airport recorded 3.79 inches on Thursday, bringing the Withlacoochee River up over the canoe dock.

rising to meet you

This is what the cypress are made for. The Florida Trail we walked follows the narrow band of pine between the cyprus, which experiences regular flooding, and the reliably dry oak. Only twice did we need to detour, and then only briefly, though frequently the flood waters were only yards away. Though with such sandy soil, even places that had standing water a day ago were drained and firm for walking.

cypress

Like the snake at Alligator Lake, this turtle was minding its business, preferring we not stop to look.

grumpy log turtle

These spiders were numerous. Probably a member of dolomedes, a fishing spider.

needs no web

There were numerous caterpillars, this, a tussock moth caterpillar, was the most frequent. The female moths have no wings and the adults live only a few days.

toothbrush

A Fiery Searcher, eats caterpillars.

with turbo

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flowers and omninous banjo music
Monday, April 4th, 2011

O’Leno State Park:

The town, founded in 1840 on the banks of the Santa Fe River, was originally called Keno after a popular gambling game at that time. In 1876 Colonel Whetstone applied for a post office for the town of Keno and was denied due to the name and its relationship with gambling. The Colonel then had the name changed to Leno and was granted the post office, which he ran until 1890 when he moved to Mikesville, three miles north of Leno. Leno was an industrious town with two grist mills, a saw mill and six cotton gins. The town also had a general store, hotel, livery stable and doctor’s office. The demise of the town took place in 1894 when the S, F & W Railroad was diverted to pass through Fort White instead of Leno. By 1896 everyone had moved away, leaving Leno a ghost town.

…The site of O’Leno State Park was initially chosen as the location of a Florida Forest Service camp to provide forestry training and education. Development of the camp started as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project using unemployed labor from the High Springs area. In July 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) installed workers from Company 418, Camp P-67, to assist WPA workers at O’Leno. Development of the site progressed rapidly and between 1935 and 1936 the CCC cleared land, built roads and trails and constructed the dining hall, pavilion, museum/tower building and suspension bridge. In late 1936, the CCC enrollees were withdrawn as the project neared completion and WPA labor became unavailable.

Charming old stoneworks and the suspension bridge are still in use. On our visit, in mid March on the same trip with Alligator Lake Park, there were several groups playing ominous banjo music on the porches and pavilions.

bouncy bouncy

reflections

turtle trio

The Santa Fe River disappears underground within the park, surfacing again three miles to the south. Between the sink and rise, several long sinkhole lakes dot the forest. The water in these lakes has a slight current and the water level rises and falls with the river.

sinks

The flowering dogwoods made the forest look like a park.

dogwoods

The wild azaleas were also in bloom.

azaleas

Gemmed satyr

gemmed

Eastern Towhee

towhee

I believe this moth is in the genus Catocala, commonly known as Underwings, but I haven’t found any photos that were an exact match. Wiki on the family Noctuidae:

Some of the family are preyed upon by bats. However, many Noctuidae species have tiny organs in their ears which responds to bat echolocation calls, sending their wing muscles into spasm and causing the moths to dart erratically. This aids the moths in evading the bats.[citation needed]

Several species have larvae (caterpillars) that live in the soil and are agricultural or horticultural pests. These are the “cutworms” that eat the bases of young brassicas and lettuces. They form hard, shiny pupae. Most noctuid larvae feed at night, resting in the soil or in a crevice in its food plant during the day.

underwings

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coots and more coots
Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

It would be great if we could find a map somewhere of the trails at Alligator Lake Park. We’d only taken the three mile loop trail before. This last trip in mid March, however, we ventured onto some of the side trails off of the south side of the loop, which in turn have side trails of their own, becoming somewhat maze-like. It was our sense of direction, not the signs, that got us back to the car.

It was an earlier spring than last year. Rain lilies.

atamasco

The butterfly book says that these American Ladies are familiar across most of North America, but this was our first sighting of one.

wings wide open

This is the same butterfly, with wings closed.

wings wide shut

Viola’s form of the Little Wood Satyr

flutter

Mike said he knew there were bison here, but I wasn’t expecting to find these roaming around. I’d think during some times of year there wouldn’t be much dry land to graze on.

shaggy

Some parts are deeper than others, and the water level changes drastically across the seasons. Much of the lake used to be drained and used as farmland. From the link above, “Several sinkholes are located in the north and south basins of the lake which provide direct connection to the aquifer. One of these sinkholes has been responsible for frequently draining the northern lake basin.”

flooded fields

There were, as usual, constant and varied bird song, and coots and more coots.

coots and more coots

I have lots of shots of poorly lit or out of focus flitty birds, some of which we may be able to identify, but we never caught sight of the owners of most of the calls. Animals are more skittish here than in other parks we visit. The turtles almost all kerplunk back into the water before we see them. I had already walked by this rotting stump when Mike motioned me back to look at this snake. Possibly a brown water snake. I’m not sure what’s up with its clouded eye. (His picture)

smelling you

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