Monday, February 13, 2012

camping. critters. dry lakes & turtle shells. poop.

BBBBbbbbbbr. what a cold weekend.
at least when we go camping...we sleep in a camper that slides in the back of the truck...
and not in  a tent.

we arrived at Gold Head Branch State Park friday afternoon.
(only about a 40 minute drive from home)
when we checked in, we noticed all the brochures on local wildlife.
gopher tortoises, coyotes, snakes, black bears, fox squirrels, white-tailed deer.
"YEAH!"  i thought  "not just scat & track pictures!"

while setting up the camper, we let milo out for a little fresh air.

she's good. she stays. she listens. (well, most of the time.)

with milo back in the camper, we rode our bikes to Big Lake Johnson.
this park has 2 main lakes.  dry lakes.

both Big & Little Lake Johnson are fed by the seepage of the springs from Gold Head Branch Ravine.
 prolonged drought and the pumping of water for industries, communities & irrigation
are sucking parts of florida's aquifer dry.

these lakes are pretty much nothing other than dry lake beds.
according to a ranger we spoke to, the lakes haven't been this dry since the 1930's.

the boat ramp to nowhere

we walked around the perimeter.
i was shocked & saddened to see the remains of so many turtles.
scattered all over.  just empty shells.  
due to loss of habitat & food provided by these lakes.
a turtle wasteland   :(

finally we heard some sounds of life.  sandhill cranes flying in to settle for the night
somewhere on the other side of the lake...past the tree line ...

small trees & grass growing where there used to be water.

UPDATE: my suspicion was correct!
this is a SHRIKE!  thanks Bob @ Birds & Nature in the Forest of Dean  for confirming!
ALSO confirmed as a Shrike by TexWisGirl @ The Run*A*Round Ranch Report

(i'm not a birder. i looked through my bird encyclopedia...twice...
and am not sure about this one!  i can't find a bird with these exact markings.
the closest i saw was a Shrike?!  any ideas? please say.)

back at the camper milo is passed out.

on her window seat, atop her pillow throne.

dreamily...she opens her eyes and heads outside.

sniffing a twig or something...very intently.

on a mission...

colder & windier.  getting colder as the day goes on.
we decide to hit the trails early.
hiking from Little Lake Johnson down into the Ravine.

along the way...another guess...what bird is this? (a Prairie Warbler?)
YES!!  confirmed as a Warbler by TexWisGirl @ Run*A*Round Ranch Report
AND, not JUST a Warbler...but confirmed even be a Palm Warbler by 
Kathie @ Kathie's Birds!!

we reach Little Lake Johnson.

(yay! i know this one.  i hope.)  Eastern Bluebird!!

a muck embedded bobber

a reminder. just in case you want to take a the mud...

passing the lakes and moving into the pine forests...we head down to the Ravine...
where it's cooler, damper, lusher, greener.

at the turn of the century there was enough flowing water to operate a Grist Mill.
now all that remains is a small slab of concrete.  and a marker sign.

ferns reflecting in the clear spring water.

Aralia spinosa
also known as Devil's Walking Stick, Hercules' Club, Angelica tree.

the clear spring water

sam bravely stands on log which has fallen across the creek

a lizard. an anole.  a bit stunned by the sudden drop in temperature.

a shelf mushroom on a dead tree, on the forest floor

a fern ball in the crook of a tree

at the topside of the Ravine...
we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Sasquatch!!
and even luckier to snap a picture!

a little light. looking into the sun. a Red-bellied Woodpecker

a Zebra Swallowtail
(looks to be the same kind of plant we have at my previous post...
blooming right now...the Flatwoods Plum)

ok. almost done. 
get your wooly cap & gloves 'cause we're supposed to have a hard freeze saturday night.
down in the 20's.

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; 
they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.  
~John Shirley

a moth flew into the camper.
we let him spend the night.

sam unhooked the hose & let the spigot drip to save the park's pipes from freezing.
when i woke up at 6 sunday morning it was 31 degrees (F).
at 8:30 AM it was 27.

on the ground under the dripping spigot.

(last night...sunday got down to 22)

you thought you were getting away...or at least hoping...there'd be NO poop this time.

think again.

milo used her litterbox in the camper saturday night.
this is what i saw sunday morning.

not only did she completely miss the box...
but NO WAY could she do this again...even if she tried.

(at least her poops were not soft. ugh. on the rug. ugh. stinky, yes. soft, no. whew!)

well. hope you enjoyed wandering Gold Head Branch Park.
we did.  it was cool.  literally.

YIKES!  time flies when you're doing a post!
i have lots of stuff to get done today.
so i'll catch up with you later today...or some time this your place.

now you stay cool & be safe.

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place."     
~Zora Neale Hurston


  1. Great pictures as always. Thanks for sharing! I love the one with the fern over the water. It's begging for some little poem to go in the space there.

    When we encounter a poop (usually dog poop) standing straight up, we refer to it as a Monument. Nice monument, Milo!

  2. dying laughing at the last photo! :)

    yes, i agree w/ you on the shrike and the warbler i.d.s. :)

    and BRRRR!!!

  3. Loved all the pics! Even the standing up poop. That is really cold for you guys!! I worry about all those plants that had started to bloom. Big Foot was a surprise--LOL! Lovely little birds, but I have no clue which birds are which. Hard to believe those were lakes. Sad to see. Glad Milo had a good time, too. Thanks for the adventure!! :)

  4. Your photos are fantastic, and you're right, it is a Shrike.

  5. lovely post my favourite is the fern reflections photo - you see and frame so well!

  6. Hi Laura...I love your posts ..I just never know what I'm going to find here!!
    I love the no swimming sign lol!!
    Sasquatch..what a riot that is..looks like it shedding season for him ; }
    At lot of great photos and information Laura..very interesting!!
    Ouch.. on the cold temp. poor plants brrrr!
    Milo always looks like he likes a good camping trip cute!!

  7. Oh those two hearts are just so precious! How wonderful you found Sasquatch! Lucky you!.... You do have the best ever sights to see on your camping trips, except for the poor sad turtles..hopefully relief can be offered...somehow... Milo is just adorable too, I always like your photos, and especially the throne...all kitty cats need their own special thrones, right! I hope you got all rested on your journey and you're ready for a great week ahead, right!

  8. Your kitty is such a goddess ;-)

  9. Sounds like a good weekend Laura just what you needed ........and Milo too ..xx

  10. Oh, sweet pics of Milo! The clear water photos are really cool-I mean, that was really clear! And that fern growing in the crook of the tree is really something. Those are some healthy ferns! It's almost like mistletoe, only, mistletoe is said to be a parasite. And I've never seen anything like that devils walking stick tree.

    You came across some different stuff, but, alas, for the turtles, there were so many of them. A sad thing, the drought. But it looked like the birds were surviving the situation.

    Happy Valentine's Day Laura, Sam and Milo! I always enjoy your new finds, it expands my horizons! Love your iced hearts!♥

  11. Still laughing at the cat poop. (And it's not often that I type those words.) Wombats do that too --- leave their poop on top of stones and fallen timber at wombat nose height. Although they do it deliberately; presumably Milo had a little accident.

  12. Looks like you had bunches of fun and those poor turtles! And that job that Milo did ... Mr. Poo as the kids from Southpark say! That was really something! LOL! Me and April caught a turtle on the way to Larry's on the off ramp at Gainesville! It was a snapper so we guided it into box and took it to Larrys. He had that turtle for YEARS!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Didn't you check with Milo on those varieties of birds? Maybe that's why he left one straight up!...:)JP

  14. The diversity of your weekend photos were stunning--so many contrasts. Your close-ups so exciting to see as if we were there with you right then catching the same moment...

    Something is always amiss when I try macro camera's viewing lens keeps shrinking as my gray hairs increase! Hmmm.

    Michigan had a chilling weekend too. With the windchill index it was sub-zero temps.

    Hope your family's psyche batteries got a full re-charge like a battery does during your camping but then batteries do not like cold temps. Hope Travis is adjusting. Hope he might get access to a computer to share in your camping trip and photos while walking in the forest of dry lake beds. Love the signs. That touch of humor always brings a smile.

    Again the contrast of textures and content of photos delight so many. Best always. Jean

  15. THANKS everybody who left a note...i guess milo's MONUMENT was a big hit!! i'll let her know...she'll be so proud!! :)

    i STILL haven't stepped a foot into blogland yet...even though i may have gotten a little REcharge from camping last weekend...i'm just not feeling like myself. this whole travis thing...has got know. and yesterday, Vday...was his birthday. POOH!

    anyway...i WILL get out there soon!! :) xo thanks again for all the funny comments...and compliments! seeya.

  16. Well, what a trip you have had. Those poor turtles! That makes me sad. And cat poop before Valentine's really???

    It's nice that you saw the sandhill cranes and the shrike. as for your warbler, it is most likely a Palm warbler as it has such bright yellow undertail coverts. A Prairie warbler does not. Still, you were on the right track and I had to look it up myself! Good job!

  17. Z przyjemnością oglądałam Twoją wspaniałą wycieczkę, niestety i ze smutnymi widokami, np. skorup żółwi.Przykro, że tak się zmieniło środowisko i zginęły. Miłego miałeś towarzysza podróży - ślicznego kotka.Zdjęcia bardzo ciekawe, no i bardzo ładne. Pozdrawiam. *** We are happy watching your wonderful trip, unfortunately, and with the sad sights, such as turtle shells. Sorry that this has changed the environment and lost. You had a nice travel companion - cute kitten. Photos very interesting, well and very nice. Yours.

  18. Wow!!! Looks like an amazing place. The pic of the turtles is disturbing and sad, but I'm glad you posted the shots. People need to see the good with the bad...maybe just not the kitty litter incident with Milo!!!:) We have 5 cats as well and it's always something but you've got a keeper. Thanks for sharing your journey. Chris at Las Aventuras

  19. Milo is a cat with many talents!

  20. Hi Laura, I missed this post so I am playing catch up. I had to read about your fun camping trip. I love all the birds, very pretty warbler. And a cool sighting of the crane sin flight. Very neat you ran across a Sasquatch, the red eyes look scary. LOL! Love the cute lizard too, I hope it survived the cold night. Thanks for sharing your trip, I really enjoy your post.

  21. all those turtle shells were a bit shocking to see.
    fun that your kitty can go with you.
    I have only heard 2-4 sandhill cranes at one time and they are booming loud, i can barely imagine what that sounded like.
    so glad you had a good time finding all sorts of treasures!

  22. THANKS all...for taking the time to leave your thoughts...kind words...and for wandering the park...experiencing the dry lake beds and the crystal clear spring water in the ravine...AND of course...hopefully smiling at milo's little overnight gift! haha!!

    thanks! :) laura was given for you following the warbler picture!! thanks for helping to ID this little yellow guy!!

  23. Looks like you had a great weekend camping, even with the cold weather. The dry lakes are interesting, the turtle shells sad, the anole looks "frozen" in place, & Milo is very gifted... What is that Sasquatch made of? OH - and the story of those 2 hearts, please??

  24. @ Ladybug and anyone else who was wondering...sasquatch was made of spanish moss and the eyes seem to be reflectors. not sure what was underneath all that moss. and the snowy hearts at the end is an image i found when googling 'hearts'.
    happy saturday!

  25. Hey Laura thanks for stopping by my post for Carmi at Written Inc. blog and his curved theme for Thematic Photographic this week...I was just thinking as I looked through all your great photos again...just how many precious curves you have in this lovely post! I'm gonna post another one if I get the chance of those not so noticable curves like most of your photos here...the curve of a lizards tale, the mushroom, the kitty curl...those are dreamy photos for me...the not so round curve of a bike's tire but the touch of a lizard or spider or name've got it all here!

  26. Hi there! Love the fact your cat camps with you! She is one happy, lucky cat. And she doesn't even chase over those pretty birds? I'm pretty impressed by the Sasquatch, too. And the ferns. I'm taking tons of photos where I am right now (I'm in India!) It will take me ages to sort them out --

    Enjoy these beautiful days!

  27. Hi there! Love the fact your cat camps with you! She is one happy, lucky cat. And she doesn't even chase over those pretty birds? I'm pretty impressed by the Sasquatch, too. And the ferns. I'm taking tons of photos where I am right now (I'm in India!) It will take me ages to sort them out --

    Enjoy these beautiful days!

  28. How lovely are your pics, even when they are a bit sad (turtles dying). Thanks for another wondrous trip through your world.


thanks for stopping by! it's always nice to hear from fellow wanderers!