Yesterday Joy and I hit the trails which means that today is the Photo Safari Report! Yesterdays Hike shall forever be known as, "The Swimming Squirrel Hike" for reasons that you will learn later. We decided to risk hitting one of our favourite local preserves because, despite the fact that this is the Rainy Season, there hasn't been much rain all week long. We thought that perhaps, the trails might have dried out some. And perhaps they did. But we still found plenty of water. And swampy bits. And swollen creeks. And near flood level rivers. And that's ok. It was pretty awesome because we found other very cool stuff too.
Sleeping Turtle Preserve, which was our selected hiking destination, runs alongside a portion of the Myakka River so we were pretty sure that if there was going to be flooding, it would closer to the river. So we started out on the hiking trail that moved away from the river. Shockingly, the temperature when we hit the trails was only 70 degrees! It was overcast, there was a nice breeze and I have never seen such a nice cool comfortable day in August since we moved to Florida. It was a wonderful surprise. And the trails were beautiful, as they always are.
There were oodles of wildflowers! The flowers always wow me, but you probably figured that out already. And because there were flowers, there were also butterflies and dragonflies and bees. I wasn't able to capture any of the bees, they were moving too fast. Or maybe I move too slow.
While you could tell that the ground was a little damp, most of it wasn't mucky and we could see flooding off to the sides here and there, but things weren't too messy until we somehow found ourselves having wandered off toward the river. The Myakka was impressively swollen, dark and mysterious looking. The path, which runs right alongside the river, was a little precarious here and there as it the land was collapsing back into the water. There were fallen trees, heavily leaning trees and very swampy bits areas, but we persevered, as we do.
There were two huge surprises on this hike. Surprise numero Uno: One of the absolutely coolest things that we have ever seen showed up. A cicada. We can hear them, but we had no idea what they looked like. And then there it was. For some reason, on the ground (?) right on the edge of the trail. Joy offered it a stick and it grabbed hold with no hesitation, and we lifted it to an area further off the trail for it's safety. But of course, took photos. They are HUGE! What I've read is that they only show up every 17 years. Eggs are laid in the ground near the base of trees and remain there undisturbed all that time. Then the 17th year rolls around and the eggs hatch and the little cicadas climb the trees and just hang around in the tree tops making a LOT of noise. Apparently this was year number 17.
The second very cool surprise was that we saw a swimming squirrel! Squirrels swim? This was news to us and yet, very definitely, that was what we saw. Here are a few of the photos that Joy took. (Mine didn't turn out as good). We spotted him in the water swimming toward the shore where upon he immediately scampered up a tree and I'm sure felt as bedraggled as he looked. There was a second, dry squirrel running up and down the branches of the next, looking frantic. Our guess is that the first squirrel fell into the river by accident. Glad he was ok.
I did look it up afterwards. Squirrels can swim, though they prefer to not. Apparently they do a sort of doggy-paddle and use their tails as rudders! Brilliant!
I did capture a few birds. Not many. We could hear them, but the tree cover was so thick, and the lighting was rather poor (as you can tell from the rest of the photos). I'm surprised I got the few that I did!
The final category is always my favourite, the Rando Files. Ready?
We returned wet, dirty, bug bitten and scratched up with socks that will require bleach to ever hope to be anything near clean again. But we had a great time, made some terrific memories and got some good photos. Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride.
Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs all 'round!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.