Sunday, May 06, 2007

A hike through Lake Woodrufff

The family went for a hike this morning through Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, a series of lakes (Woodruff is the largest at 2200 acres), impoundments, and channels that are part of the St Johns River system.

It was hot, but a nice breeze and a fairly low dew point made for a pretty comfortable three-mile hike... even with my three-year-old daughter perched on my shoulders the whole way. When at the park last week, I saw a a few dozen Marsh Rabbits nibbling the tender grasses along the impoundments. I wanted to show the kids who, growing up in Central Florida, haven't seen many wild rabbits. Alas, we made it to the Refuge too late, and the bunnies were hidden in the brush waiting out the hottest part of the day. We did see many alligators, turtles, egrets, a small kite, hawks, coots, gallinules. We heard a Great Barred Owl calling from the pine forests that dot the perimeter of the public area.

Swamp Rosemallow (Hibiscus grandiflorus).
Nuttall's Thistle (Cirsium nuttallii). This specimen was mixed in with some Purple Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) that had already gone to seed. I think I'm right on the identification: the Nuttall's Thistle is a lot paler and more delicate, and a bit taller, than the more common Purple.
I have no idea. Anyone?
Purple Passionflower, or the (aptly named) Maypop. I find these to be so otherworldly in their beauty. It's strange to come across them, growing untended in the wild.
A Gulf fritillary fresh from its cocoon. Tasting Spanish Needles (Bidens alba). Bidens is probably the most common wildflower here in Central Florida. It's indestructible, and seems to thrive in swales and cracks in the concrete. If you walk through a field with them, you'll find your socks and cuffs spiked with their sharp thistles.
Sawtooth Blackberry (Rubus argutus) blooms.
Rubus berries. These lined the banks of the channels cut through Woodruff. Considering how bone-dry it is, the berries were fairly abundant and the ripe ones were sweet enough. Surprised that there were any left with all the crows, sparrows, etc. flitting about.

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