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Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Explore a marsh, swamp, Pine Flatwoods, Sand Scrub, Hammock, and Lake Maggiore all at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Located in St. Petersburg and part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the Preserve is home to over 165 species of birds, over 50 species of butterflies, and over 60 species of amphibians and reptiles.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike through the 3 miles of trails. Be sure to look for uniques species in the Sand Scrub. Cool off under the dense canopy in the hammock while admiring the abundance of wildflowers. Stop at Lake Maggiore to birdwatch.

The Birds of Prey program at Boyd Hill Preserve cares for non-releasable birds where they are ambassadors for their species and habitat. Visit the Environmental Center for information on programs, rental space, and nature camps.

Tram Tours are available and most trails are ADA accessible.

For more information, times, and admission, visit: http://stpeteparksrec.org/boydhillpreserve/

Photo Credit: Marc Goldberg
#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF
#GetOutside #BoydHillNaturePreserve

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Giant Whip Scorpion

The Giant Whip Scorpion or Vinegaroon, Mastigoproctus giganteus, is the only whip scorpion with a tail found in the United States. Whip refers to its long thin tail. Vinegaroon is derived from the vinegar scent created by a spray of concentrated (85%) acetic acid that emanates from the base of the tail.

The Vinegaroon, an arachnid, can grow to 2 inches long. It does not have a stinger filled with venom like other scorpions. They have eight eyes which are rather weak. Nature has provided them with long, thin front legs to use as antennae to feel their food and a tail which serves as a sensory organ. They make their homes underground in well-drained soil. You will see them most often when they come to the surface during the rainy season.

After a 12-hour mating ritual in autumn, the female will carry the eggs internally for several months before laying 30 to 40 eggs into an egg sac. She will remain in her burrow for 2 months while holding the egg sac off the ground. once hatched, the white-colored babies and will ride on their mother’s back for about 30 days. After their first molt, the babies look like adults and will leave their mother. Before becoming adults, the new Vinegaroons will molt three more times at intervals of about one year. Life expectancy is 7-8 years.

Giant Whip Scorpions dine on Florida woods roaches, termites, and crickets. They catch their prey with their large pincers and kill them by crushing them with their teeth. Vinegaroons make tasty treats for raccoons, armadillos, skunks, feral hogs, and black bears.

If threatened, the Giant Whip Scorpion will either hide in its burrow or rear up and spread its legs. They may spray a vinegar scented acid which will accurately hit their enemy up to a foot away. The spray packs a mighty sting to the predator’s nostrils and eyes. If handles, they pack a powerful pinch.

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #GiantWhipScorpion #vinegaroon

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White Pelicans

American White Pelicans, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, spend the summer months in colonies In Canada and Northwestern United States where they breed and raise their young on lakes.

Before winter, flocks of white pelicans soar into Florida by flying high in a V formation. One of North America’s largest birds, white pelicans are hard to miss with their wingspan of up to 9 1/2 feet. Black wingtips and pink or reddish-orange legs, feet, and bills make this bird a must-see.

Look for white pelicans on coastal waters, bays, estuaries, and inland waterways. Their nests, consisting of sticks and dirt, can be found on the ground. Watch as these graceful birds float on the surface of the water and dip their heads to scoop up a fish dinner. You will often find several of them together as they participate in a group effort to herd fish into a buffet for all.

We can all work together to make sure these vulnerable beauties are here for our next generations to enjoy by eliminating pesticides and cleaning up litter including monofilament lines.

Have you seen White Pelicans?
Please post the location in the comments so we all can have an opportunity to see them too.

Photo Credit: Andy Waldo at Orlando Wetlands Park

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #WhitePelican #Snowbird #Pelican #GetOutside

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Winged Sumac

Winged Sumac, Rhus copallinum, is a beautiful native shrub that is found in sandhills, Flatwoods, and dry prairies as well as disturbed areas. Winged Sumac gets its name from its leaves which appear to be pairs of wings lined up on the leaf stem.

The red-banded hairstreak uses the Winged Sumac as a host plant. Bees and butterflies are attracted to its yellowish-green flowers. Birds such as jays, warblers, crows and more dine on the berries.

Winged Sumac can be used in home landscapes and is well suited for a background plant in large areas. It generally grows in clumps to about 15 feet but has been known to reach 30 feet.

In the fall, the leaves turn a brilliant red color. A December frost makes this native shrub a stand out in your native garden and in Florida woodlands.

Photo credit – “Frosted Wings” by Andy Waldo

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #WingedSumac #Gardens #NativePlant

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Gemini Springs

Gemini Springs is a 212-acre park in DeBary, Florida. There are many trails on the outside and on the inside of the park allowing one to fully enjoy the beauty. There are also campsites within the park for primitive camping for a nominal fee. If you have a dog you’d like to bring along too, be sure he/she is on a leash while walking the trails. There is a dog park for them to run with a picnic area inside for the humans.

The trail on the outside of the park is part of the greater trail that goes to Osteen and beyond and is great for walking, jogging, and bike riding. The trails on the inside are for walking and jogging. There is a place to secure your bike. They have a nice playground for the kids and there are pavilions that can be rented for special occasions. There are also many benches and picnic tables around to just enjoy an afternoon of nature.

If you love taking pictures, this is a great place to catch birds, fish, turtles, snakes, gators, other wildlife, and an abundance of beautiful flowers. The oak trees with the hanging moss are magical to see and you just might see a woodpecker.

There are 2 springs inside the park and they are marked with signs. Approximately 6.5 million gallons of sparkling fresh water bubble up from the two springs each day.

Gemini Springs is a beautiful hidden gem in Volusia County with so much to see. So what are you waiting for? Make the short drive and become one with Mother Nature!
– Melanie Lulue – Featured Contributor

For More Information:
https://www.volusia.org/…/ecologic…/gemini-springs-park.stml

Photo Credit: Melanie Lulue

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #GeminiSprings #GetOutside

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Dainty Sulphur

The Dainty Sulphur, Nathalis iole, with its wingspan of no more than 1 1/4 inch is the smallest Sulphur in the United States They love sunny and dry open areas such as agricultural fields, disturbed areas, and grasslands. You will often find them flitting about in the grass along the side of a road.

Females generally lay a single egg on the upper side of a host plant of Spanish needles or carpetweed. Caterpillars are green with a purple stripe along the back and a pale stripe along the side. They dine at nite on the leaves and flowers of the host plant. In about 23 days, the caterpillar will begin the cocoon stage and emerge 15 days later as a beautiful Dainty Sulpher Butterfly.

Look for Dainty Sulphurs flying just inches above the ground or resting on a flower soaking up the sun.

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #DaintySulpher #Butterfly

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