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OWP birds

I have taken a lot photos of birds at Orlando Wetland Park .  OWP (Orlando Wetlands Park) is a great place to go birding, there are supposed to be over 150 different types of birds.  I haven’t seen nearly that many but I have seen quite a few.  

 

 

This is a anhinga (I believe)  and he is eating a fish.  It looks like a small catfish but plenty big for the anhinga. 

 

In these pictures , a roseate spoonbill is goofing off with this other bird.  If you know the name of it, leave me a comment and I’ll add it.   It looked like there were showing off  for us or maybe having a I grooming contest, I am not sure but they were fun to watch.   I thought the pictures were great and I wanted to share. 

 

The Orlando Wetlands Park is located in Christmas, Florida off of Wheeler Road.  For more information on the park you can see my other blog post at https://lilsusieq.com/orlando-wetlands-park/  or the Orlando Wetlands website at http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/.    

Remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints

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Baby alligators at OWP

On my last visit to the  Orlando Wetlands Park (OWP) I finally got to see baby alligators!    OWP is located in Christmas, Florida off of Wheeler Road.  For more information on the park you can see my other blog post at https://lilsusieq.com/orlando-wetlands-park/  or the Orlando Wetlands website at http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/.    I had been to OWP prior to getting my new camera in January but this was the first time I had enough zoom to get a decent picture.   I had seen pictures others had posted on Facebook and I was dying to see them myself. 

On this trip to OWP we had taken the free tram with the tour guides and they knew just were to look to see the mama and baby alligators.  They hanging out in a small little shaded pond off of Hawk Hwy near the Education Center.  She had a couple sitting on her and more in the water.   Despite what it looks like in the picture, I didn’t get to close, I was on the bank on the other side of the water.   Mother alligators can be very protective.   A limpkin was hanging out in the pond too, I guess he wasn’t worried about getting eaten.

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

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Oyler Overlook at OWP

 The Oyler Overlook is one of my favorite spots at the Orlando Wetlands Park (OWP).  OWP is located in Christmas, Florida off of Wheeler Road.  For more information on the park you can see my other blog post at https://lilsusieq.com/orlando-wetlands-park/  or the Orlando Wetlands website at http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/

Oyler Overlook is about a 30 to 45 minute walk or longer from the parking lot.  The time really varies depending on how much you stop to enjoy the view and watch the wildlife.   You can also bike at the park which is a great way to see even more of the park.

Sometimes there are volunteers provide tours and you can ride the free tram.  That is what we did on this particular visit.   The tour guide told me the spikes on the Oyler Overlook sign are there to discourage birds from sitting on the sign.    He said they didn’t want the birds pooping on the sign but it doesn’t always work.    The hill actually changes size by small but an measurable amount.  The guide told me the hill is made from the dirt dug to make the ponds.  When it rains the hill will swell and will increase by inches.

As you can see from these pictures, the view of the OWP from hill is really breathtaking.

 

In the pond across from the hill, the Cypress Swamp, there is a Osprey nest.   You can just make out the Osprey sitting in it.      A beautiful pair of  sandhill cranes were having lunch on the hill as well.

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

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Overlook Park

On the south shore of Lake Jesup in Seminole County is the wonderful little park called Overlook Park.  It is a small park, about 3 acres, but is great for fishing, watching birds and seeing alligators.    The address is 1988 Spring Avenue, Oviedo and the website https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/locations/301555-Overlook-Park.stml

I live in Oviedo so I visit park fairly often, every time I go see something different.   I like to stop at Sonic and get a large milkshake to drink at the park and while this does nothing for the diet, I really enjoy it.   The park has a small parking lot, picnic tables and a boardwalk.  There are no bathrooms or playground.   Near the entrance of the park is a Seminole County Historic Marker – it gives some history of the area.

These photos are some of the park and boardwalk.  You can see SR 417 from the park and it is pretty after dark, I enjoy watching all the cars to buy with their lights.

 

 

I have seen quite a few different birds including black birds, egrets, anhinga, limpkin, red wing blackbird, vultures and osprey.  

These photographs are some of my best pictures of birds.

 

There is beautiful little limpkin family living at the park.  I have taken pictures of them over a period of a month and you can see how big the chicks are getting.

These pictures show the limpkin family, the chicks are so cute!

 

In addition to seeing birds, Overlook Park is a great place to see alligators, squirrels and some amazing sunsets.  I have gone out there six or seven times and I gotten some amazing shots. 

 

As I mentioned, this park is off of Lake Jesup and it is full of alligators.  People go fishing  off of the boardwalk which seem expected.  However there are some people who go in the water, with the alligators, to net fish.  I think they are crazy!  I have asked them and they don’t seem worried about the gators.   The are throwing nets that have weights on them to catch fish so maybe it scares the gators away.

This last set of photos are of these guys fishing in the water – did I mention I think they are crazy?

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

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Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The drive is open from sunrise to sunset and is a 11 mile one way drive that begins at Lust Road and exits as Jones Road. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some holidays. Check the website at https://www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/wildlife-drive/ for more information. Parts of the drive had been closed during hurricane damage but it is still a great day. There is parking near the old pump house where they also have portable bathrooms.

A self guided audio tour with 11 points of interest follows along the drive. There are numbers posted along the drive the correspond with the audio tour. Access the audio tour at www.sjrwmd.com/LANS. A smartphone or some type of devise with internet is required.

This first set of photographs shows the map of the park, the entrance to the drive and the old pump house and parking.   The portable toilets are located here however there are no sinks.  I bring my own hand sanitizer and paper.

 

Park at the pump house and go hiking or biking along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The trail is approx. 15 miles long and goes to Magnolia Park. I have gone hiking out there several times but I still need to take my bike. I am really looking for to biking, I doubt I’ll make the full 15 miles but can I do 5 to 10.

This next set of photographs is of the Loop near the pump house, you can go either north towards McDonald Canal Boat Ramp or south to Magnolia Park.

 

The drive is approximately 11 miles but expect to be there 2 or 3 hours. Everyone drives very slow, about 5 or 10 miles per hour, so they can see the scenery and wildlife. Along the drive there are places to pull over so you can take photographs of the wildlife and beautiful scenery!  

As you can see from the photographs below, there is a lot to see on both sides of the drive. 

 

The LAWD website says there are over 360 species of birds but I have only seen a handful.  The birds move so fast, I find them hard to photograph. I have a Sony a6000 and my lens only goes up to 200 so I don’t get really good pictures of the little birds. However I have gotten some great pictures of larger birds, mostly great blue heron, egret, hawk, osprey and anhinga. I would love to get a picture of an eagle but I have yet to see one.

This next set of photographs show some of my best birds photos.

 

There is more that just birds to see such as otters, rabbits, bobcats, snakes, turtles, alligators, butterflies and flowers. So far I have only seen snakes, butterflies, alligators and rabbits.

The last set of photographs show some of the best shots I have gotten of alligators and  flowers.  

 

Overall, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is a wonderful place to spend the day whether you are into photography or just looking for something to do. I would recommend bringing water and snacks if plan on making a day of it, it gets very hot out there.

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

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Bloom N Chalk Fest in Safety Harbor

On March 18, 2018 we went to the Bloom N Chalk Fest in Safety Harbor, Florida.  This was our first time going to a chalk fest and visiting Safety Harbor.  The city is north of Saint Petersburg and east of Clearwater.   It is a very pretty area and the part of the city we saw had a small town feel to it.   It reminded me of Mount Dora, Florida.

Bloom N Chalk Fest took place in Downtown Safety Harbor off of Main Street.  We got there about 11 am  on the second day and it was already pretty crowded.  We had a little trouble finding parking but not too much, took about 15 minutes of driving around.   I don’t know how many artists participated in the event, there were a lot, we walked from one end of the festival to the other end to see all the chalk drawings.  I took pictures of alot of the drawings but I don’t think I got them all, there were a lot of people there.

 

 

I have the pictures below and a number on the picture corresponds to the artist on this list:

  1.  Derek Ray
  2.  Mike and Marcie Bethold
  3.  Sharyn Chan
  4.  Cass Womack
  5.  Erik Greenawalt
  6.  Lester Mendoza
  7.  Mike and Pam Williams
  8.  Dave Brenner
  9.  Shellley Brenner
  10.  Rob and Nadine Nickeson
  11.  Fawne DeRosia
  12.  Beatrice Flaig
  13.  Holland King
  14.  Reese Youngberg
  15.  Ken Mullen and Hector Diaz
  16.  Genesis Allione
  17.  Damon Meri
  18.  Kimberly Wood
  19.  David Lepore
  20.  Chris Carlson
  21.  Willie Zen
  22.  Janet Tombros
  23.  Julie Garden
  24.  Tonya Youngberg
  25.  Michael Las Casas
  26.  Venessa Monenegro
  27.  Bridget Lyons
  28.  Aislynn Mullen
  29.  Maria Paula Romero

 

In addition to the chalk drawings the festival had food and craft booths.  The raspberry tea from The King’s Nut and Tea was really good.  We went back for more raspberry tea but didn’t get anything to eat.

 

Overall we really enjoyed our visit to Safety Harbor for the Bloom N Chalk Fest.  I would love to go back to Safety Harbor to see more of the town and visit the Safety Harbor Waterfront Park and Philippe Park.  Next time we might spend a few days in Safety Harbor and then go to Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island.   There is so much to do and see on the Saint Petersburg penisula, as I think of it, that you could spend a month there and not see it all.

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Harry P. Leu Gardens

In February 2018 we went to see Harry P. Leu Gardens to see the Art with LEGO Bricks by Sean Kenney.

There were over 13 displays made with over 450,000 LEGO Bricks.  Here is a picture of the map showing were all the display were located.  I have been to LEGOLAND and Disney Springs and  seen the LEGO sculptures at both places.  I had an idea of what can be made with LEGOs, with that said, I was still very impressed with the exhibit at Leu Gardens.   The details and colors were just awesome and I was surprised at how large the displays were.

 

 

 

 

We visited each display and I took a photo of them all.   My favorites are the Peacock and Gardening Grandfather and Granddaughter but all of them were fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.  Bonsai Tree,  2. Peacock,  3.  Buck, Doe, and Fawn (two pictures),  4. Giant Corn Spider,  5. Giant Pansy,  6. Galapagos Tortoise and Darwin Finch,  7. Ant Mosaic,  8. Gardening Grandfather and Granddaughter,  9. Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed,  10. Wheelbarrow,  11. Hummingbird and Trumpet Flower,  12. Birdbath,  13. Roseate Simmer Dragonfly

 

This was out first time to see the gardens and it was really worth it.   You can bring lunch and sit outside the Welcome Center (first two pictures below)  to eat.   I took pictures of the Leu House Museum (last picture below)  but the inside was not open to the public.  It is still being repaired from Hurricane damage.  I think it was damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017.   We spent about 3 hours at the gardens and didn’t get to see it all, it is a pretty big place.  It had started to rain so we rain so we cut are visit short, however plan on going back for another visit in the Spring.  

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Christmas Tree Trail

We went to Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida to see the Christmas Tree Trail in December 2017.   In addition to the trees, there were lots of Christmas lights and decorations all over Disney Springs.  We went on the weekend so it was VERY crowded.  Fortunately, Disney Springs has two large parking garages so you usually can find parking. We had a wonderful time, definitely worth a visit.  

There approximately 25 character themed trees.  I went thru the trail twice to make sure I got a picture of every tree. The first tree, one with tags as ornaments.  It has logos for all the different stores here at Disney Springs.  The second tree but  first character themed tree.  Mickey & Minnie Mouse, it is really cute!  It is decorated with red and white polka dots on bows and other bows and some mickey ornaments.   All the trees had ornaments and decorations relating to the character – for example Cinderella has pumpkins, carriages and swans. Dumbo is my favorite character. The tree is very colorful and has ornaments for things you might see at a circus.

 

In addition to all the beautiful trees you can also see Santa at Santa’s Chalet.   As you can see from the sign, there was quite a wait to see Santa.

 There were also different entertainers located throughout Disney Springs, you could stop and watch while walking and browsing.  

 

 

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