Friday, December 31, 2004

North Florida

We spent a week around Christmas in Gainesville, where Elizabeth grew up. It was great to see family and to get back to some of our favorite outdoor spots. Forget about palm trees and beaches -- this part of Florida is all about beautiful spring-fed rivers and majestic live oaks draped with spanish moss.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

We spent an afternoon on the Ichetucknee River, a beautiful, crystal-clear spring-fed river not too far from Gainesville. We tried to take our time and stop to watch the birds and turtles. Here's a little blue heron we watched for a long time as he walked around on the floating vegetation, snatching bugs periodically. The longer we sat still, the closer he came to us -- until Mom came back up river to make sure we hadn't fallen in. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sunset at Cedar Key Posted by Hello

a typical cypress swamp Posted by Hello

This is Manatee Spring -- like a lot of rivers in North Florida, because it's spring-fed, the water is a constant 72 degrees year-round, which attracts manatees in the winter. We didn't see any manatees, but there were a few people swimming.Posted by Hello

Monday, December 27, 2004

We went out to Paynes Prairie to check out the effects of the flooding from this year's hurricanes, and hoping to see some alligators since it was a warm day. Instead, the highlight was spotting two great horned owls in the live oaks on the edge of the prairie (with the help of an expert birder). First they were calling to each other, then the male flew over and mated with the female. We stayed and watched them preening for a long time. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004

We went to a new butterfly rainforest exhibit in Gainesville where a blue morpho landed in Matt's ear! It was a treat to see these bright blue beauties again after visiting a farm where they're raised in Belize. Posted by Hello

A blue morpho in a bromeliad. The underside of their wings doesn't give any hint of the irridescent blue hidden on the other side. Posted by Hello