The U.S. Forest Service “Juniper Springs Campground” is on Highway 40 in Marion County, FL, between Ocala and Daytona. This public campground features junipers, pines, sweet gums, palms, and huge oaks. There is a rustic display of an old spring-fed electric power generating mill in the campground. This mill, like the campground, was built by the U.S. Conservation Corps during the 1930s.
This is a natural spring area which offers a several miles-long canoe and kayak run (rentals available) as well as a nice semi-natural swimming pool (no alligators!). Because it was chilly we skipped the water-oriented sports. I have included a few pictures of the stream that runs from the springs.
We did try to do a little bit of bird watching. We saw several woodpeckers and sapsuckers and did see a nice male Common Grackle bird. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
I took these photos last week in The Villages, Florida. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo. Enjoy!
Anhingas and a Snowy Egret
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
The Winter migration is underway and more and more birds are arriving here in recent days. This will continue through December or early January. I have been seeing small flocks in the skies and on the shorelines of local lakes. I also have included a photograph of some smaller freshwater turtles that happened to be sunning themselves on the shore of a local golf course pond. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Adult White Ibis
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Mottled Ducks and Whistling Ducks were seen at a couple of ponds here in The Villages last week and also a couple of weeks ago. These ducks live at our ponds here all year around and are wild ducks. They eat pond insects, small tadpoles, tiny fish, grains and seeds.
The Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are the one with the gorgeous pink bill and feet. The Florida Mottled Ducks resemble their cousins the Mallard Ducks and the Black Ducks. In fact, there are many hybrid Mallard Mottles here. Florida tries to keep the population of wild Mallard Ducks very low to help prevent inter-breeding. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
A River Otter; two Wild Turkeys; a Bald Eagle; about twenty Limpkins; Sandhill Cranes; Little Blue Herons; Great Blue Herons; Anhingas; Turkey and Black Vultures; Double-crested Cormorants; a Black-crowned Night Heron; a Tri-Colored Heron; Snowy Egrets; Great Egrets; a Belted Kingfisher; Alligators; Turtles; Purple Gallinules; and Common Moorhens were all spotted during a two hour scenic boat cruise from the very beautiful Blue Springs State Park on the St. John’s River here in Florida yesterday morning.
The pontoon boat Captain drives slowly through backwater channels chock-full of wildlife! I enthusiastically recommend this cruise! Advance reservations are likely needed and tickets today cost $20.00 per adult plus a $6.00 per car state park day use admission fee.
Part 2 will be posted here on Monday. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Sandhill Crane on its nest
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egrets were at the little golf course pond behind the Mark Twain Library here in The Villages, FL yesterday afternoon. There were a bunch of Great Egrets, a Pied-billed Grebe, many Canada Geese, a flock of Mallard Ducks, a Tri-colored Heron, a Great Blue Heron, and many Double-crested Cormorants at the pond during the same period. I will share some of those birds in future posts here.
The Snowy Egrets are getting their Winter breeding plumage now. These birds are very showy in luxurious white feathers, a long black sharply pointed bill, greenish-yellow legs, a yellow spot just below their eyes, and the tell-tale mustard yellow-colored feet. The Snowy Egrets are truly beautiful smaller egrets! They live around water (mostly freshwater). These birds eat fish, tadpoles, aquatic snails, baby alligators, frogs, tender small turtles and crayfish. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A pair of Sandhill Cranes was spotted last night about 6:30pm in the Hacienda neighborhood, across the street from a golf course, here in The Villages, FL. We have a year-around population of Sandhill Cranes which are native here in Florida.
Sandhill Cranes love browsing on tender grass on cool shady golf courses where there also usually is a pond for drinking water. These cranes will eat insects and worms as well as aquatic plants, small fish, frogs and small turtles.
The cranes here in The Villages don’t seem terribly concerned by people being around as this pair were actually standing on the front lawn of a residence across the street from the course (and across the street from Sandhill Crane statues in a front yard). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!