Snakes, Alligators, Mosquitos .. Oh My!

I hate snakes.  They’re unpredictable and lightning fast which makes for very scary when we’re hiking.  Especially when they’re calmly sunning themselves by the side of the path. While we were trying to decide if we should walk by, all of a sudden the snake made us both jump but slithered off the other side of the path into the jungle.  Thank goodness!

We’ve been “stuck in the muck” in Charlotte Harbor, Florida off & on for the last 3 years. And as much as we love to hike and I love to take photos, we’ve never stopped at the Alligator River, Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park until this afternoon.  But if you go, make sure to look down occasionally and take your bug spray.

A gator being reflective...

A gator being reflective… he can be lightning fast too, but not today, too busy enjoying the warm late afternoon sun rays.

Several ponds provided amazing reflective images.  I love dark still waters like these … well, except for the snakes…

Reflections in a pond at the Alligator River Preserve.

Reflections in a pond at the Alligator River Preserve.

Unidentified red seeds in pods, bright color in an otherwise green and grey swamp.

Unidentified red seeds in pods, bright color in an otherwise green and grey swamp.

Someone please tell me why this red-headed woodpecker is a

Will someone please tell me why this red-headed woodpecker is officially called a”red bellied woodpecker”?   There’s no red on his belly that I can see, just his HEAD!  But a read-headed woodpecker is a different bird.  Go figure.

Plentiful airplants.

Airplants are everywhere and some of them are very pretty.  Unlike this guy hiding beneath…

Snakes on the trail kept us alert.  They're lightning fast, but luckily not poisonous.

Did I mention the snakes?  Luckily they’re not colorful and pretty, which is a very general indication that they’re not poisonous.  But it does make them difficult to see, especially when I’d rather be looking around soaking up the beauty and the birds, not watching my feet on the trail every minute.

Live oaks filled with moss make for some pretty landscapes.

Live oaks filled with moss draped the trails … it’s not hard to imagine these parts of the trail as a scary halloween haunted hike.

Anyone recognize this butterfly/moth?  I'm curious what it is.

A white peacock butterfly – frequenting flowers close to marshes and water.  In the winter months, the Florida Bird book (yeah, I know….) tells me they’re only found in South Florida.

Alligator River turned out to be a great place to hike for somewhere between 3 and 4 miles.  Sure beats walking around the marina subdivisions, although those can be interesting as well.  Especially when the baby great horned owl is born (mama’s sitting on the eggs right now!). Or when the armadillo decides to take a stroll over the bridge by the Platinum Point Yacht Club.  Of course we have the daily manatee and dolphin parades.  Routine.  Isn’t it amazing how when you get used to seeing somewhat endangered creatures daily, you don’t think of them as special anymore?   I have to keep reminding myself, especially about the manatees and the white pelicans.

Anyone familiar with more don’t miss hikes in south Florida?  Please leave a comment and share.  As long as we’re here, we might as well find every treasure we can!

Comments

  1. Happy New Year Jan and Dave! Did you do any kayaking in Charlotte Harbor Preserve? In the past we have dropped our yaks in by the Fishery in Placida and headed north up Coral Creek. Very pleasant (except for during last Christmas’s Red Tide – poor fish. It killed hundreds of manatees too – so sad). I think there is also kayaking out of Ponce deLeon Park in Punta Gorda. As for hiking, have you tried the Myakka State Forest? http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/myakkastateforest.html. There is also a trail called the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail north out of Placida/Cape Haze off of Gasparilla Rd. We’ve only biked it. But we’ve seen wild pigs along it, rabbits, a raccoon, pelicans, osprey, etc.
    Trying to convince Jim to bring our tri to Cayo Costa in March before he races it up in Fort Walton at the Trimaran Nationals. Maybe we’ll see you then?
    Love your blog!
    Cheers,
    Carleen & Jim
    F-22 #29 “Raise a Little Hull”

    • Hi Carleen & Jim! Someone launched a tri at Burnt Store yesterday, but it doesn’t have a cool name like “Raise a Little Hull” and it’s all white, not green. 🙂 We have hiked the Myakka State Forest, but didn’t know about the Pioneer Trail, maybe we’ll try it. There’s also a place called Sleepy Turtle Preserve up in Venice along the Myakka River that we want to try. We’re meeting Aly, Dan & the kiddos for their 1st Disney adventure, but other than that (unless we decide to sail into the sunset – unlikely with my Dad nearby), we should be here. Stay in touch! Happy New Year to you & Jim! Cheers! J&D

  2. I’d second the recommendation for Myakka state park. It’s huge, and it’s beautiful. Camping, biking, kayaking, all available. Do watch for gators though…there’s a ton of ’em.

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