Hiking Lyonia Preserve

I’ve been practicing my nature photography, so get ready for a lot of pictures. Right next to our library (about ten minutes from our house) is the lovely Lyonia Preserve. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve visited the Preserve several times. Every time we go we see something new.

Florida foliage is pretty interesting to me. It reminds me of a cross between San Diego and Washington State, in that you feel like you’re walking in a desert one moment, and the next moment you’ve stepped into a dense jungle. The Lyonia Preserve has more of the desert, or “scrub” side.

“Scrub” sounds a little, well, scrubby. But it’s actually quite beautiful, and the number and variety of plants is pretty extensive. Scrub Palmetto is a common Florida sight, and there are lots of these throughout the Preserve.

The Preserve also has small evergreens like these. Doesn’t the bright white sand look a little like snow?

And these, which look a little like the bushy Monterey Pine Christmas trees we used to cut in San Diego.

Right next to the oaks and evergreens, we also find cactus.

As well as all the interesting plants, we’ve seen some pretty cool animals. The lizards and snakes are hard to catch on camera. But this scrub jay was interested in Axa’s water. In fact, yesterday when we went, a scrub jay came and landed right on Raj’s head. They’re fun and intelligent little birds.

I liked this little natural “dead bouquet,” because it looks exactly like the roses that Tony gets me when they’ve died and every day I put off throwing them away.

Our favorite place at the Preserve, though, is the wetlands. Axa calls it a lake, but it’s really more of a glorified pond.

My little frog-catcher is in heaven here.

I don’t know how many species of frogs live in the Preserve, but each one she catches seems to have different markings. Somehow, though, they’re all excellently camouflaged.

Frogs aren’t the only well-camouflaged animal, though. Look here:

Did you see the grasshopper that looks exactly like the dried grass?

Insects are of course in abundant supply. I realized I should have put something in this picture to give you an idea of the size of the spider. I didn’t really want to put my hand down that close to it, though. Hiding behind a camera was bad enough.

Let’s just say I’m pretty sure that those frogs Axa is holding form a major portion of his diet. But there are other dangers lurking here.

I recognized this sundew plant from pictures I’d seen in books, but I never knew that the flowers were only a centimeter or so in diameter. Carnivorous plants. Take that, giant spider!

Carnivorous plants are of course what Axa promptly brought up the other day when I pontificated that plants were always at the bottom of the food chain.

The only sign of mammals were these cute-as-a-button racoon tracks:

It’s weird to me to see mushrooms growing out of the sand.

But these are only a couple of the many bits of interesting fungus (and moss and lichen) that we found.

Nature study at its finest. What a magical place!

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