Landscapes & Birds, II

Kissimmee Prairie

As promised, more landscape photos (and birds and other critters, too), today from Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

The Kissimmee Prairie is a “dry prairie” along the eastern bank of the Kissimmee River. The river flows south from the Orlando area, into Lake Okeechobee. Thus, it is the headwater for the Everglades. Dry prairie once covered hundreds of thousands of acres of Florida.

The prairie is very dry now; in the spring it’s dotted with wildflowers and green foliage. Parched vegetation offers challenges to a photographer, but the cooler weather makes hiking more enjoyable. Here’s an overview of the terrain. (Most of the photos I’m posting these days are 1/3 larger than they appear; right-click etc if you want to see them a little better.)

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Note the obligatory Red Shouldered Hawk; not the last one you’ll see today.

Scattered around the prairie are small wetlands. A Great Blue Heron oversees this one, on the western side of the trail.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

On the oppposite side of the trail, a gator keeps cool. . .

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

while one of its chums smiles in contemplation of having a photographer for lunch.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

As I was photographing the gators, I heard a loud crashing in the brush behind me. Fearing the worst, I stepped back, while trying to get my zoom telephoto lens adjusted.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

I’m not sure who was more surprised, this river otter or me! I was glad to see it was only an otter, but the otter didn’t share the sentiment.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Once it got some distance between us, it posed for a sullen portrait.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

This Killdeer looked on in fear. Then again, Killdeer always look worried.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

A Lesser Yellowlegs.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Anhinga.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

As promised, another Red Shouldered Hawk. Unlike most of the birds seen along the road leading out of the park, this one was totally unperturbed by the car. (Larger image)

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

And another one! At first I thought it was injured, but it’s only moulting a feather.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

It had no trouble flying away when I got too close. Those are hay bales in the background. Part of the park is leased for cattle grazing.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park

Thanks for looking!

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