Field, Forest, Fun

Header Image: Sandhill Cranes

Thank goodness we have venues nearby where we can travel less than ten minutes and enjoy birds, blooms and bugs! If we had to plan for a long drive, we might “accidentally” oversleep. Our unscientific research reveals that sunrise and the early birds wait for no birder.

One of our current favorite patches is Tenoroc Public Use Area. It is near the city of Lakeland in central-west Florida in Polk County. Our population is a little over 100,000 but 99.9% of those folks seldom visit our little paradise which is okay with us. This area consists of around 7,000 acres which was once mined for phosphate. Over the past 50 years, extensive reclamation has turned it into a diverse natural habitat with 39 trails and 29 lakes. Efforts have been made to re-introduce native plant species which, in turn, have lured a large number and variety of animal life to call the place home.

We had an early morning surprise when a Coyote sauntered across the road. Poor guy looked like he had a rough night. Coyotes are not uncommon in the area although we usually just see their tracks. Around sunrise, the earliest callers of the bird world are Northern Cardinals and Mourning Dove. As the night gives way to the new day, flocks of White Ibises and Cattle Egret move from roosts to feeding areas. Hammering of woodpeckers can be heard throughout the forest. Common Gallinules gabble from all the lakes. A Red-shouldered Hawk’s scream ensures any creature still asleep is now fully awake.

Two bird calls we only hear during the months of migration belong to the Eastern Phoebe and the Gray Catbird. These were by far the most common calls of the day. Fall flowers are in bloom. Insects are busy visiting the blooming flowers. We are privileged to be here to witness a small sliver of nature beginning yet another day.

The bright male Northern Parula points us in the direction of a pretty flower. This warbler species is already diminishing in number as fall progresses and will soon almost disappear until spring.

Wild Bushbean (Macroptilium lathyroides) is a non-native species which has been prevalent in Florida for at least 50 years. It can become a nuisance if it grows in large clumps due to its tendency to crowd out native species. We like the bloom’s unique brown/purple color.

Poor coyote looks pretty scroungy. Probably just needs coffee.

Male Common Ground Dove have a bluish crown that the female lacks. These small dove are, well, common in our area.


This has been the year of the Red-femured Spotted Orbweaver (Neoscona domiciliorum). I don’t know if it’s because they’re more abundant this year or if we just happened to have been in the right spots at the right time.

Just when we think we won’t see many butterflies as the year progresses, dozens of the critters are fluttering all over the place! This Spicebush Swallowtail (Pterourus troilus) was one of many this morning.

Migratory gang leader. Small songbirds tend to flock together as they migrate each year which may be a strategy for protection from predators. The Tufted Titmouse is typically the first to show up and yell at us as the other gang members flutter around, join in the yelling and eventually flee to the upper canopy.

Flashes of yellow usually mean some sort of warbler is nearby. This Prairie Warbler casts an upward glance and for good reason. (See the next image.)

Although small warblers are not usually on the menu, a Bald Eagle should not be ignored as a threat if you’re a Prairie Warbler!

One of the few moths to be out and about in the daytime, an Ornate Bella Moth (Utetheisa ornatrix) has a terrific mix of color and pattern.

Now that fall has fell, Palm Warblers are part of the landscape. They can be easily identified even at a distance by their habit of constantly pumping their tails up and down.

We will soon see an influx of American Kestrels as northern birds head south. A few will remain here all winter. This bird is likely a Florida sub-species as it was in a field where we observed a breeding pair produce two new falcons over the summer.

We love our swamps and seashores. Some may forget that Florida has an abundance of open fields and fantastic forests to explore. As long as we continue to have fun, we shall continue to visit them all!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

20 Comments on “Field, Forest, Fun

  1. For some reason when I read your title I thought, “Run, Forrest, Run” which is odd since I have not seen the movie..yet.
    Neosconas have become my favorite spider after seeing several in the yard the past two summers. SInce they eat their webs in the morning I always have to search for the next night’s domicile. As always, your shots are well done and a pleasure to see.


    • At my age, running anywhere, especially in a forest, would not be wise.

      We’re thankful a few Neoscona delay taking down the web until we can spot them.

      Thanks for the visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This place is on my list of places to visit! I would love to drive down there sometime soon. We are seeing a lot on the trails this week. It’s just amazing to live here and see so much variety. I live in an active lifestyle community and there are people out walking, riding bikes and on their golf carts all over the neighborhood. And I always tell people about the amazing trails nearby but it’s easier to just walk out the door to take a walk. They are missing so much not getting out on the nature trails. It’s crazy how few people are on the trails. But I know….I’m preaching to the choir now! heehee! Enjoy your week!


    • You’re right, Diane. It takes only a bit of extra effort to be out enjoying the “true” Florida! The rewards for that effort are infinite.

      Chilly this morning! A great time to be outside!


  3. What a delightful variety. The subtle colors of the Ornate Bella Moth are especially appealing, although the Tufted Titmouse brought a smile, too. I still remember my first sight of that bird. I thought it was a Cardinal that had somehow lost its color. I was happy to see another view of the gorgeous spider, as well as photos of those doves. I’m really quite fond of doves of every species; they go about their lives quietly, but they’re no less interesting.

    Here’s a riddle for you:
    “Why did the coyote cross the road?”
    “To keep the photographers on their toes!”


    • That Bell Moth can be much brighter during spring and summer. Even with my poor hearing, I can hear the Titmouse’s clear whistle as soon as we enter its territory. Dove always look like they just finished a make-up session.

      Some Native Americans call the coyote “Song Dog”. I like that.

      One for you:
      “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
      “To show the armadillo it CAN be done!”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This all begs the question that what do the 99% of normies do all day? Perhaps they spend their time studying the electoral polls in trying to reach an objective view, despite the cheating and misinformation from the media. A tip, if you think that’s bad, sample our UK “newspapers” and TV “News” if you would like to see bias at its best. At least in Florida you and Gini got the result you voted for and maybe, just maybe, Mr DS can soon win what the other chap was cheated of?

    Meanwhile, poor coyote looks like I feel after a day searching for a good weather forecast in vain while a sympathetic Ground Dove (or Wood Pigeon) couldn’t’ care less. These doves and pigeons always have an air of superiority about them don’t you think? They hardly ever mix with real birds like warblers, waders or finches – too busy preening and looking good.

    You finish with a lovely portrait of the American Kestrel.Did you share their breeding success and location with the twitching fraternity? I wouldn’t.

    Enjoy your fun days. And Stay Positive.


    • A favorite American writer of mine created “The Devil’s Dictionary”, a collection of definitions he used as a newspaper columnist in the late 1800’s. He defined politics as: “POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

      I am attempting to stay away from such strife and shall concentrate on Gini and Nature. In that order.

      Yes, dove have always seemed a bit snooty preferring to look good rather than survive a hawk attack.

      We enjoyed watching the new Kestrel family over the summer. Hope we get to do it again!

      Positive it is! You, too.


  5. Another delightfully eclectic range of subjects here, Wally, and I am envious that these subjects can be found in one area that’s local to you – albeit a rather large area! For me, the show-stealer on this occasion is the spider, with the moth and American Kestrel only just behind in the supporting cast.

    Lindsay is now scheduled for a knee replacement on December 9th, so we have a quiet Christmas in prospect. Otherwise, all is good here, and I hope that the same can be said for you both.

    My very best wishes from a foggy England – – – Richard


    • Thank you very much, Richard.

      Our subjects are eclectic because we are, too. Or is that eccentric? Perhaps it was senile? I forget. Often.

      Good news for Lindsay! Gini is anxious to hear post op reports since she hopes to go through the same process next year.

      Off for a late afternoon romp in the woods. We may even look for birds, too! 🙂


  6. You had me all excited with the banner photo of Sandhill Cranes. Did you some of those as well? Gorgeous shot of the Kestrel, I always think of them as wearing war paint. And I need to keep my eyes open for the Palm Warbler, since the range map says it is here along the upper Texas Gulf Coast all winter. I’ve bookmarked Tenoroc for a future trip to Florida. Thanks for sharing your walk!


    • Good morning, Sam.

      Florida has a resident population of Sandhill Cranes. When we see a pair or family group of 3 or 4, it’s likely they are the Florida sub-species (Grus canadensis pratensis), which number around 4,000 within the state. They’re joined each winter by about 25,000 wintering Greater Sandhill Cranes (G. c. tabida) and we see them typically in larger groups. Terrific to observe them no matter where they originate!

      Thank you for the wonderful comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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