Alligators and Butterflies

March 6, 2019

Today’s photo adventure/picture walk took Mel and I to the nearby Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is a 245-acre protected area located on the shores of Lake Maggiore in south St. Petersburg, Florida. It includes the Boyd Hill Environmental Center, a bird of prey aviary, and more than three miles of trails through a variety of ecosystems.

Mel’s Blue Dasher
Mel’s dragonfly (I’m not sure of the name)

We have been to Boyd Hill Preserve once before, but it was over a month ago, so we were hoping maybe there  would be something new to see today. Even if we didn’t find anything to photograph, it would still be a lovely place for  an afternoon walk— but pictures would make the walk infinitely more fun. We tend to be much more observant when there’s the possibility of  finding something interesting or something beautiful to photograph–and we did.

The most interesting thing we found today was a ginormous alligator laying across a path that we had hoped to negotiate and its mouth was wide open. Should we take a picture or quietly retreat? The alligator appeared to be frozen in place. His eyes were open, his mouth was open, but he never moved. So, we took his picture. Multiple times. Mel even knelt down on the ground to get a better shot! The alligator never budged!

Mel’s alligator “capture”

The other interesting thing we found today was a juvenile bald eagle– high up in one of the trees. He was a bit difficult to photograph, though. Not only was he extremely high up in the tree, he was backlit and he blended in with the bark! But it was worth giving it a try given how seldom we even see bald eagles. Mel’s shot turned out the best.

Mel’s bald eagle (juvenile)
Another bird of prey high up in a tree. I think this is a red shouldered hawk.

The most beautiful things we saw today were the butterflies! Much like the botanical gardens we had visited the other day, the butterflies were flitting about  everywhere. At the gardens, it was mostly monarchs and swallowtails. Today, at Boyd Hill, it was mostly Zebra Longwings (the state butterfly of Florida) and Gulf Fritillaries. They are both quite beautiful! We took dozens of pictures trying to capture them as they landed in quick succession on one flower after another.

I was quite happy with what we were able to find today!

Zebra Longwing

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