The Beauty and the Beast. For Real.

It’s slowly getting a bit fall-like here in Florida. And we love it. Mr. D. and I have been going out to enjoy nature more frequently in the last two weeks. Last Sunday morning we took a walk at Florida Botanical gardens and met a real beauty. A Gulf Fritillary at the outskirts of the Butterfly Garden.

Adult Gulf Fritillary 2 ud172The various gardens were beautiful, both the cultivated ones with plants native to Florida and the many natural habitats. Lots of mosaics are incorporated into and around the walk ways. I included a couple of them in the slide show below.

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Earlier in the week we walked the Taylor Park again. It’s becoming one of our favorites…always some excitement in addition to its natural beauty. And I’m learning to recognize the residents of this ‘village’ while Mr. D. is learning the important spots to sniff.

Taylor Park lake ud172Right off the bat we spotted someone in the grass spying on us. I guess we had surprised him in the middle of his breakfast.

squirrel ud172Then I heard someone working. Looking around I spotted our smallest woodpecker, the Downy, on a tree trunk quite a bit away.

a downy woodpecker ud172On the lake side we spotted a Wood Stork ooking for breakfast…

woodstork taylor park ud172… and soon realized that the whole village was out and about. A Great Blue Heron, a Little Blue Heron and Tri-colored Heron we all looking for an early bite.

GBH ud172

little blue heron ud172

tri-colored heron at Taylor Park ud172When we arrived at the canoe launch ramp, aka the local Starbucks,  we saw it was busier than ever.

white ibis drinking ud172This time there was no gator lurking nearby, the coast was clear. So the Ibis had their morning drink and their morning bath all at once. On the side of the ramp an Anhinga was drying his wings…

Anhinga at canoe ramp ud172… and another one was checking his outfit in the mirror.

Anhinga looking in the mirror UD172Nobody seemed concerned about dangers lurking in the water. Looking out on the lake I discovered a large Pied-billed Grebe family in the company of a young Moorhen.

grebe family and a moorhen UD172While they were diving for food and generally having fun,it was clear they also kept an eye on the water, like these two…

two grebes ud172I looked in the direction their eyes were trained at…and there he was. Silently gliding in the water.

new gator at Taylor Park ud172Sometimes only the very top of his head was visible. Then he turned to check on us, or perhaps he was interested in the busy Starbucks on the shore.

gator looking at me ud172I was glad the birds were keeping watch. We continued our walk to the end of the lake and turned around.

Part of lake at Taylor Park ud172We spotted the resident Osprey. She made a few fishing attempts at the far end of the lake, but didn’t seem to have any luck. Walking back we spotted her again on a pine branch above the trail. She was looking intently out to the lake…

resident osprey at Taylor Park ud172… and I did too. First I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The gator was no longer there and all the Grebes seemed to be safe. But scanning the water with my zoom lens, Mr. D. patiently sitting by my side, I spotted another, much larger gator. He was well camouflaged with a green head covering.

a well camouflaged gator ud172He was quietly swimming about quite close to the shore. Suddenly he turned around with a splash…

gator hunts at taylor park ud172… and opened his mouth. I remember checking that there was no bird close by. And then I saw it. He caught a fat fish!

gator swallows a fish UD172Phew! I was happy he had fish on his menu that morning. The little birds diving in the lake seemed to be safe for now. Relatively speaking.

Florida Mottled Duck ud172

Pied-billed Grebe ud172We caught up with some moms on an outing with their babies…

Moms and babies at Taylor Park ud172…and also spotted another little cutie on the lake before arriving back to the parking lot.

Pied-billed Grebe 2 ud172Next week we will be getting company. Good friends from Sweden are coming to visit. Stay tuned for some new and different adventures. Thank you for walking with us again. Mr. D. and I wish you wonderful fall days…or spring days for those of you in the southern hemisphere.



82 thoughts on “The Beauty and the Beast. For Real.”

    1. Hi Carrie and sorry for the tardy response. All is well here, but I had friends from Sweden visiting and between making memories with them and work, there was no time left for blogging. Back to it now 🙂

    1. Thanks Brad and sorry for a late response. Just drove my friends to the airport after a great (almost) three weeks with them, me and Mr. D. are getting back to our normal routines, including blogging 🙂

  1. In contrast to the fall we are experiencing here in Canada, Florida does not like fall to me. Great photos, Tiny! I especially like the first one. The butterfly is so sharp it could be part of an illustrated book of butterflies. Best wishes! Peter

    1. Thank you, Peter. And sorry for the tardy response. Between discovering new sights with my visitors and my work, I didn’t find time for blogging in the last three weeks. Now trying to come back 🙂

    1. Thank you, H.J. 🙂 I have been busy with my visitors and work…now trying to get back to my routines. Salt marsh was very busy today 🙂

  2. What an exciting walk you had! I loved getting to learn more about the residents of Taylor Park. (The alligators are intimidating indeed!) Wishing you a lovely time when your friends come to visit! A big hug to Dylan too ❤

    1. Thank you, dear Takami ❤ My friends just left to fly back home to Sweden. We had a wonderful time and I will try to tell a few stories about our adventures in the coming days and weeks.

      1. Hello Helen ❤ Welcome back 🙂
        So glad to hear you had a lovely time. Of course we all look forward to your stories and photos – but first, take care & hopefully catch-up on some much-needed rest 😀 ❤

    1. Thank you Karen! Apologies for the tardy response as I didn’t have any time between adventures with my visiting friends and my work to get to blogging.

  3. Sitting here smiling, Helen; so many wonderful new friends you’ve introduced – even the gators! I console myself with the thought: They must eat too.. Just not humans or puppy-dogs, please!
    The gardens are so well manicured, and the natural areas are a blessing to the eye.
    I particularly loved the Anhinga mirror image; you truly are a talented photographer!
    Looking forward to the ‘new adventures’ Swedish style.. 😉 😉
    Love to Mr. D. with kisses – the same for you, too…

    1. Thank you Dear! I certainly had fun Swedish style for three weeks! Did things I’ve not done in ages, like snorkeling and other fun in the sun. Now that my friends have just left, I will try to catch up somehow…probably over 1000 pictures later 😀

  4. Oh wow, your butterfly image is outstanding, Helen. I LOVED each and every picture as I scrolled down. Par excellent!! Thank you you so much for taking the time for putting a post like this together. XOXO

    1. Thank you, dear Amy! And sorry for the tardy response. I had friends from Sweden visiting for almost three weeks…and now have over 1000 pictures to look through from our adventures 🙂

    1. Thank you Sylvia! Yes, I took my visitors there and they were not disappointed. We did so much in three weeks that my head is still spinning 😀

  5. Hope the gators don’t eat those ducks or birds. Great photos! Your autumn looks so different than mine. 😉 Enjoy your company. It’s always fun to have guest and stir things up a bit.

    1. Thank you, Marlene. My visitors just left today and we did so much in three weeks…stirring up things a bit 🙂 I hope to tell those stories in the days and weeks to come.

  6. More amazing shots, Aulikki. It’s like our own National Geo in Largo/Clearwater. You make our home seem all the more spectacular! Thanks for sharing….. R & Priya

  7. It was a great treat dining at Starbucks with you and Mr D Tiny, I am glad it was only fish of the day on the menu. Really great gator shots!!! Loved your picks of the Pied Grebe which we do not have here. We could not be close to one of our salty crocs, they are so aggressive! The beautiful gardens are such tranquil and serene places to unwind and rest. Hope you have a wonderful time next week with your friends from your homeland Tiny! Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thank you, Ashley! I had a wonderful time with my friends who visited for almost three week. Soon after they returned home, I realized I had caught a bad cold…which kept me more or less in bed for days. Now starting to slowly feel better and I am thankful for it. I wish you both a beautiful weekend.

      1. I missed you and wondered how you were. So glad you had a lovely time with you’re friends, but hope you are over your cold, as winter has not yet come, but changing seasons are challenging to one’s health. Happy Thanksgiving and have a wonderful weekend also my friend 😊

  8. Thanks for taking us along on this lovely walk, Tiny. Here in southeast Florida we’ve also had some wonderfully cool, breezy weather. I’m amazed to see it’s a chilly 63° this morning! I especially loved your sneaky, half-hidden gator shots!

    1. Thank you, BJ! I was on your side of Florida with my guests earlier this month…we spotted more gators in the swamps and did a cruise to visit Bahamas. Yes, it is “winter” weather now, on and off 🙂

    1. Thank you, David. Sorry for the tardy response. Life intervened with adventures and then with a much less adventurous cold. I hope to be in better shape next week when I have to come to your big city…too cold up there right now, but I see it will be warming up.

  9. Thank you and Mr. D❤❤ It’s so exciting to walk with you. Those gators are “terrible “: don’t go too near! Very beautiful story and pictures 👍👍Greetings and hugs from Anja and Hertta ❤🐩

  10. Helen, I hope you don’t get too close to the water … those gators look fierce. What a perfect camouflage and a brilliant photo of him in mid-feed. The rest of your ‘village’ is beautiful and calm, and I’m smiling at the Starbucks crowd! As for the butterfly photo, that is award-winning! Wow!

    Have a great time with your friends from Sweden; they’ll be spoilt with you as their guide!! 😀

    1. Thanks Annika! I had the best time with my friends who stayed almost three weeks…but between all the fun and trying to do the absolutely necessary for work. there was no time for being here. Sorry for the late response and greetings from the Big Apple 🙂

  11. Thank you sweet Tiny for sharing your walk around the park with us. What beauty to behold there. As always your photos are amazing. Those teeth on that alligator…oh, my! Hugs and nose kisses for you and sweet Dylan from Chancy, Pooh and me.

    1. I smiled reading your comment (sorry for the tardy response) and thought that it’s not every day one sees those teeth in nature, even here in Florida 🙂 Many hugs from both of us!

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