Barbara A. Lewis - Artist/Naturalist

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Stubby and other friends

Posted on June 3, 2010 at 4:10 PM

My husband and I are both avid nature watchers and photographers so we could not wait to visit our favorite local county park: Lake Seminole Park. The park features: a two-miled paved walking/biking trail, boat ramps and access to Lake Seminole, playground and lots of beautiful trees ranging from cypress to live oak draped with Spanish moss and wildlife ranging from small children and their parents to yellow crowned night herons, great blue herons, mallards, moorhens, egrets, osprey, red shouldered hawks, various songbirds and the occasional roseate spoonbill.Numerous squirrels chatter at you from every direction and entertain you with their antics as well.

We have a particular spot we like and sometimes during the week we will head there after work for relaxation and a picnic supper. This spot features a small bridge over a creek that feeds into a larger lake. Shore birds like to wade in the creek after minnows, crabs, etc. and since they are used to park visitors, they do not mind being watched and filmed. One bird in particular is a buddy of mine: a little yellow crowned night heron that I affectionately named “Stubby” due to his short legs and sturdy little body. He loves to catch small crabs next to the bridge and has a particular rock that he steps out onto to set up on his next meal. I have sat on the bank next to him on numerous occasions and sketched him, photographed him and watched him for hours. So yesterday my husband decided to take his new video camera out to capture Stubby doing what comes natural - catching crabs! He seemed to know that he was the star of our video and hammed it up for us!!

We not only got some great footage of Stubby, but his pals: a small snowy egret still in breeding plumage, a larger white egret, a second yellow crowned night heron, and a small 3 foot alligator resting in the lake nearby with dragonflies hovering and landing on his head. Late evening treats were catching sight of a plunging osprey and a single black skimmer flying in circles above the lake. It always amazes me how adaptable wildlife becomes to their city surroundings, and the furry and feathered residents of Lake Seminole Park are no exception. If you walk quietly through the woods and trails you can see an amazing eco-system in the middle of a very busy Florida city, teeming with wildlife!

So thanks Stubby… we will be filming a sequel shortly - preen your feathers and get ready!

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