Nature People

A trip back to Crystal River Preserve State Park

It was a great nature day! Bald Eagle, Osprey, Chickadee’s, Pine Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Wild Boar, American Alligator, Bullfrogs, snake skeletons, and lots of scat and tracks.

The best thing about being around nature people is all the different ways we try to figure stuff out, like conjuring up some conclusions of why this happened or answering those curious questions of who, what, and why. These hypothetical conclusions and scenarios we come up with are not only interesting but hilarious, like sizing up this alligator.

American Alligator – Crystal River Preserve State Park

-I’d say it’s about 5 feet

-I think it’s smaller than that, maybe a 4 footer. The water may distort the actual dimensions of the gator, like it may appear bigger than it actually is. 4 and a half?

-I am counting by my knuckles. Ya, I’ll agree on that. 4 1/2.

Besides all the comical conclusions, we also learn from each other. That’s what is so special about having nature geeks as friends.


Dahoon Holly and Yaupon Holly 

When I find one species, whether it be flora or fauna, I often go on these learning kicks. I will spend days learning and researching. Then I have to find ways for it to make sense to me. Ya know, making sense of all those complex terminologies. At times it can be difficult and challenging, but I do my best to absorb just enough for me to strike up a conversation.

During this time of the year, you will see some trees with red berries on them. Those are holly trees. 

Dahoon Holly trees have long leaves.
Yaupon (pronounced yopawn) Holly trees have small leaves and serrated margins (edge shape of the leaf).

Both the Dahoon Holly and the Yaupon Holly are dioecious trees, which means there are male and female trees. Both the male and female trees produce small white flowers in the spring, but only the female hollies produce berries. The berries can be red, orange, or even yellow. Birds and other wildlife will feed on the berries throughout the winter months, so be on the lookout for Cedar Waxwings!


Eye Opener

It has been an annual tradition at work to have a first-day hike. January 1, 2022, was the first time I led the hike. It was a brisk hike, not a hike to stop and talk about this or that. There were over 30 people that joined the hike, and something really hit me hard that day. I realized that 90 percent of adults joining the hike didn’t know a lot about nature and wildlife. This was truly an eye-opener. My job as an education specialist is to educate people about nature and wildlife, regardless of their age. In fact, that is my passion and what I want to do. It doesn’t matter how many people attend workshops or programs; it’s that one person or those 5 people that find what you are talking about is actually fascinating.

Learning and sharing those ‘Did You Know‘s’ are worth more than you think.

When I find one species, whether it be flora or fauna, I often go on these learning kicks. I will spend days learning and researching. Then I have to find ways for it to make sense to me. Ya know, making sense of all those complex terminologies. At times it can be difficult and challenging, but I do my best to absorb just enough for me to strike up a conversation.

On the first day hike, I guided them to the cypress swamp and introduced them to a carnivous plant- Swollen Bladderwort. They were like “What? The yellow flower?”

Finding more ways to get adults away from their day-to-day stresses and out in nature needs to happen more often. Setting goals for 2022 and making things happen!

Be safe in your travels.

2 replies

  1. Thank you for another wonderful post!

    “Getting out there” is half the battle. Learning something from each outing is another part of the battle. Passing along what we learn is what will create new nature-lovers.

    The ‘gator size estimate depends upon the audience. You were among folks who may be familiar with alligator sizes and the estimates were likely reasonably close. If I had seen the critter, I also might have estimated “about four feet”. Relaying the sighting to my wife, it would have been “maybe 5-6 feet”. At Sunday dinner with the daughter’s family, “over ten feet, you shoulda seen that big boy!”

    Happy New Year!

    Like

  2. That’s funny Wally!

    I love your quote: “Getting out there” is half the battle. Learning something from each outing is another part of the battle. Passing along what we learn is what will create new nature-lovers.”

    Like

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