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Lukas Nursery Butterfly Encounter

I always have a great time at the Lukas Nursery Butterfly & Bird Encounter, in Oviedo, Florida.   It is a really large garden supplies center and they sell tons of plants, flowers, trees, garden sculptures and just about anything else needed for gardening.  When I go, I don’t actually go gardening supplies, I go to see butterflies and insects. The Butterfly & Bird Encounter is a very hot house with plants and lot of butterflies.   For more information about Lukas Nursery visit https://lukasnursery.com/ the Butterfly & Bird Encounter is https://lukasnursery.com/butterfly-encounter/.

First set of photos is of the Lukas Nursery and the outside of the Butterfly & Bird Encounter.    The place is really huge, my pictures don’t show how big it is.   The entrance to the Butterfly & Bird Encounter is through the Gift Shop.  They also have chickens and horses on the property.  I can spend a whole afternoon walking around taking photos.

 

Second set of photos is from the inside of the Butterfly & Bird Encounter.   From what I was told, butterflies don’t seem to like cold weather and you are more likely to see them in the spring or summer.   Inside the encounter it is very humid, after spending an hour I usually end up sweating buckets.   The encounter also has little birds and you can see them fluttering all over the place.   There is Gatorade provided and you can feed some of the butterflies if you like. 

 

Third set of photos are of some of the butterflies, moth and caterpillars to be seen inside the encounter.   The have signs warning you not to steal the caterpillars, maybe people have been tempted.   The butterflies are really beautiful and fun to photograph.    They don’t really stay still long so you have to be patient and quick to shoot them.  There were so many beautiful shots that it was had to choose which to post so I have another blog post of more of the butterflies at https://lilsusieq.com/butterflies-and-flowers-at-lukas-nursery/.

 

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Black Bear Wilderness Area

I have hiked at Black Bear Wilderness Area several times but  only made the whole 7.1 miles one time.   Black Bear Wilderness Area is located  south of the St. John’s River and in the northwest corner of Seminole County.  For more info visit the website at https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/locations/Black-Bear-Wilderness-Area.stml.   It is a really beautiful area and of course I have taken a ton of photos.

 

 

First set of photos includes a map of the hiking trail, the parking lot and some shots of boardwalk  There are mile markers along the trail and part of the trail is boardwalk.  

 

Second set of photos show more of the trail.  These are from my favorite part the trail – the right side of the loop and where it runs parallels the St. John’s River.   There are sections that have signs explaining the ecosystem and some of the animals that live in the area.

 

Third set of photos show parts of the trail that in not on a boardwalk.  The trail can be very rugged, especially where it runs parallel to the St. John’s River.   The trail is uneven in places with big up and down sections and tree roots growing thru the middle of the trail.

 

The last set of photos are of all the wildlife photos I have taken at Black Bear Wilderness Area.  I have seen owls, hawks, snakes, alligators, limpkins, great blue heron, insects, butterflies, turtles and much more while hiking the area.  The day I had hiked the whole 7.1 mile loop there were a lot of pygmy rattlesnakes out warming up and drying out.  This hike was in October 2018 and we had alot of rain over the summer.  The area was still a little water logged and the snakes where all of along the sides of the trail.

 

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

 

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Scrub Ridge Trail

The Scrub Ridge Trail is a beautiful short hike and provides the opportunity to see a variety of  wildlife.  The trail is located at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refufe off of SR 3.  The Scrub Ridge Trail is a long looping trail that is the habit to Florida Scrub Jay – a bird found only in Florida.  The scrub jay is an endangered bird and should not be fed or bothered in anyway.  For more information visit the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge website at http://www.merrittislandwildlife.org/scrub-ridge-trail.asp.  

 

 

I spent an hours or so hiking the trail and hoping to to see a scrub jay and take some wonderful photos. The trail has water along one side and you can see all kinds of other birds as well.   I also saw pelicans, vultures, turtles, butterflies in addition to the scrub jay.  Here are a few pictures I took during my walk.

 

The Scrub Ridge Trail is located at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge,  I usually hike it whenever I visit the The Black Point Wildlife Drive – blog post at https://lilsusieq.com/black-point-wildlife-drive/.

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

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A fun day at Gatorland!

We had a fun day at Gatorland seeing the gators and birds.   They were having a Florida resident special so it only cost $14.99 for me and $9.99 for my daughter which I thought was really reasonable. The park is located in South Orlando off of Orange Blossom Trail.    The website is https://www.gatorland.com/.

I don’t know the square footage of the park but Gatorland didn’t appear to be nearly as large as the Disney or Universal parks. Gatorland doesn’t have the exciting rides either, but what they do have is lots and lots of alligators and birds!   The gators were separated by size and age, I believe to keep the larger gators from eating the smaller ones.  There are several different shows you can watch and some you can even participant in for a fee.   We saw the Gator Jumparoo Show and I found it amazing how high they can jump.  When you look at an alligator you don’t really expect it to be able to move so fast or jump so high.   You can also feed smaller gators with meat by dangling it with fishing poles.

 Of course I took a ton of pictures!  My daughter took this picture of me.   She tries hard to be patient when I busy clicking away.  

 

 

 

The first picture here is a map of the park.  I think it is outdated because it some of the attractions are not listed.  There are also photos of the alligators swimming in the big ponds, the Jumparoo Show, feeding the smaller ones with fishing poles and baby gator nursery.   Here is the video of the show:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pybojQT-DiI&index=22&list=PLoF4TKl3RY9iXB5CGg4K3PGiRVlvD36Vu.

 

There is a show called Adventure Hour where you can feed the alligators from pretty close.   We paid for the show at the entrance and it sounded exciting.  Later when I look at the pictures I could not believe I let me daughter participate in this – she is too close to the gators.  She had a lot of fun but we might not do this show next time we go.  You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMKbs3qupcs&index=21&list=PLoF4TKl3RY9iXB5CGg4K3PGiRVlvD36Vu .

 

My favorite part of the park is probably the Breeding Marsh.  You can walk on the boardwalk and see all the alligators and birds.  The birds are everywhere and some have chicks in their nests  – I plan on visiting next Spring, it is supposed to be a great placed to get photos.  The Breeding Marsh has over 100 female alligators and 30 males.  

 

Gatorland also has a Train, Swamp Buggy Ride, Zip Line and playground with a splash pad.  Next time we go I want to take the Swamp Buggy ride.   My daughter loves the splash pad.

 

The park also has more than just alligators and birds.  There are crocodiles but I did’t get any pictures, something for next time.   They also has have turtles, panthers, bobcats, raccoons, emus, rabbits, parrots, cockatoos and more!

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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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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.   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.  Leu Gardens is a really beautfiul place to spend the day and take photos.  It was fun to walk the grounds looking for all the displays, it was a little like a scavenger hunt.

 

 

First set of  photos includes a map of Leu Gardens which shows the placement of each display and photos of all  13 Lego creations.   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

 

Second set of photos is of the grounds and it shows just a small portion of what there is to see. This was our 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 cut are visit short, however we plan on going back for another visit in the spring.