In John’s last post, he talked about our trip to Silver River State Park with his family. On the last day, while John accompanied his nephew to pick up the canoe (and paddlers) from the boat launch downriver (a better solution than walking it back out 1.2 mi from the river with the crazy bicycle solution John described before), I went on a solo nature walk.

Being alone, and therefore quieter than normal, I saw many more creatures than I usually encounter hiking. I hiked the “sinkhole” trail – if you are not familiar with Florida’s geology, what I learned from the Silver River Museum is that the state is built on a bed of limestone filled with water, covered in a layer of sand. Over time, the limestone slowly dissolves and the ground collapses forming sinkholes. So this “sinkhole trail” led to one of these ubiquitous sinkholes.

Just before I reached the sinkhole, I caught a glimpse of a large bird, a hawk maybe, just a glimpse of grey wings with white spots. When I arrived at the sinkhole, I left the trail to walk down into the sinkhole, toward a sound I didn’t identify at the time. As I reached the low point of the hole, I was startled by a grunt to my right – I looked over just in time to see a family of wild hogs that I had startled running deeper into the woods.

Since the hogs were gone, I stopped and listened for more sounds. After some time, I realized what I was hearing was a woodpecker in a tree. My first time witnessing a woodpecker live in action! My camera resolution isn’t great, but I did manage to catch it:

Pileated Woodpecker, pecking away.

Pileated Woodpecker, pecking away.

On my way out, I saw the large, hawkish bird once again. Viewing it perched on a branch from far away, I almost thought it was an owl,except I don’t think owls are out and about in the middle of the day. Continuing down the trail, I was intently looking from side to side, hoping to see more creatures. When I finally looked forward, there was a deer standing about 15 feet ahead of me, just staring back at me. It stood still just long enough for me to snap a photo.

A deer, staring at me.

A deer, staring at me.

And lest you think I only hike to see animals, let me mention my new favorite tree.The most widespread pine tree of the state is the slash pine. I love the way the needles grow in floofy balls, like a pompom.

One pompom-like ball of needles on a slash pine.

One pompom-like ball of needles on a slash pine tree.

In other news, what we’ve ACTUALLY been doing for the past several weeks is playing at home improvement. More on that soon.

2 Thoughts on “Silver River Nature Walking

  1. We had a woodpecker outside our bedroom windows as kids. It would peck at one of those trees that held up that carport in the front. You probably don’t remember, but it was very annoying early in the morning. We also had one in our back yard a little while ago. Sitting in mom’s backyard on Sat, we saw her hummingbird. He kept coming back for more and would sit on a wire and look around.

    • Heidi on August 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm said:

      Oh! No, I don’t remember that, thanks for telling me 🙂 I do remember the carport, the holy bushes next to it and the maple tree. Everyone in Florida has carports, to protect from the sun.

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