Hi everyone! Today’s post takes us to the Lake Harney Wilderness Area, about 25 miles northeast of Orlando as the eagle flies. The bald eagle, that is. And it’s not just on the sign for decoration–bald eagles do indeed nest here.
Our national bird is always a welcome sight. But did you know that they often steal other birds’ prey in mid-air rather than catching it themselves? I’ll let you work out any metaphors on your own.
Here’s the web of an orchard spider. The architect can be see at the top. I find the horizontal, dome-like construction very striking. Orchard spiders are quite common in Florida and do well among the shrubbery of your average subdivision (which is the most ubiquitous habitat of our crowded state).
I saw a lot of deer at Lake Harney. This beauty stopped long enough to pose for me and is actually one of my favorite pictures. While doing a little research, I learned that about 1 in 10,000 female whitetail deer has antlers. Biologists think they do this so they can sneak into male-dominated professions and thereby earn more money.
I believe this cute little bird is an eastern phoebe, but please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. Lake Harney Wilderness is fantastic for bird-watching. Forests, meadows, tall pines, low shrubs and of course the lake itself make for a wide range of habitat and bird types. I even saw Larry Bird, but he bolted into the woods before I could get a picture.
Lake Harney is fed by the St. Johns River, pictured above. The St. Johns is the longest river in Florida and is a major drainage basin. Below you can see where a past period of high water has left its mark on a tree.
Another of Lake Harney’s cute little residents. That bandit’s mask is quite appropriate, because according to Wikipedia, “raccoons [in a 1908 study] were able to open 11 of 13 complex locks in fewer than 10 tries and had no problems repeating the action when the locks were rearranged or turned upside down.” They have also proven surprisingly adept at inserting USB cables correctly on the very first try.
Here’s a black racer I saw on the forest floor. Black racers are quite active during the day and are one of the most common snakes a Floridian will encounter. Fun fact: they can slither at up to four miles an hour, which is about the same as a human’s quick walk or slow jog. It’s also the average speed of an elderly Florida driver crawling along in the passing lane.
We’ll end our trip to Lake Harney with this cardinal, who’s obviously using quite a bit of product in his hair. That’s just one of the many techniques these birds use to attract a mate. (Hey, it’s gotta be more effective than gold chains and chest hair.) A gorgeous bird.
Thanks for stopping by Professor Gator’s!