April 7, 019 – Hickory Point Park in Tavares, Florida

We picked up several Lake County Water Authority park brochures at Bourlay park the other day. Hickory Point Park was the most surprising. We have driven past this park so many times, but it never occurred to us to turn in and explore it. The brochure hinted at what we’ve been missing.

We cruised by the boat ramps and parked in front of the biggest picnic pavilion I have ever seen. It is two floors high with screens and balconies all around.

Hickory Point Park Picnic Pavilion

The pavilion is available by reservation for picnics, weddings, and any other sort of event. There was a large party underway to the left of the front door. We went straight through and out the back door.

When we exited, the scene was beautiful. There was a small pavilion to the left and the right.

I turned to look at the pavilion from the lakeside. Lovely.

Andy continued out to the fishing pier.

I followed as Little Lake Harris was coming into view.

Here is an aerial view of the pavilion from the brochure.

I was surprised by the number of boat slips. You can see the Howey Bridge in the back right, where we have driven by so many times.

I turned back again to admire the Bald Cypress trees and Spanish Moss along the shoreline.

The side piers have large decks on the end. The gap in the trees in the background is the gateway from Lake Harris to Little Lake Harris. Venetian Gardens and downtown Leesburg are on the far side of the large Lake Harris.

We enjoyed the sun, breeze, and views for a while and then walked back to shore and followed the shoreline to the nature trail. The loop trail is a mile long and the first third of it is a boardwalk through a swamp.

It’s a jungle in there.

Andy spotted this turtle resting on a branch next to the boardwalk.


I saw a fine lizard on a tree trunk on the other side of the boardwalk.

The boardwalk made a lot of twists and turns.

There are also a number of wide spots with benches to stop and rest or just admire this wild place.

There are many Bald Cypress trees and several ones are quite large. The photos just don’t show it.

Bald Cypress Tree

I love baby leaves and saw many of them along the trail.

A large area of the swamp was covered with these tiny plants. I don’t know what they are.

Boardwalk Through Cypress Swamp

I saw plenty of ferns and one area was covered with them.

Heart-shaped Leaves

Two Ibis flew across our path and landed in the swamp. There must be something they like in the mud because they were digging down with most of their beaks buried.

We crossed a small road and saw a citrus grove to our left. A sign said, “Stay on the Trail”, so we did not explore the grove.

Citrus Grove

The elevation changed and we were in an upland forest. It smelled like fall with the leaves covering the trail.

The trail followed along the swamp.

Ibis in Swamp

We passed a storage yard with a long boat shed. There were all kinds of small boats stored there and also a good number of police vehicles.

Andy with a Walking Stick

Eventually, we came out of the woods and a large group of eighteen volleyball courts. Only one was occupied by four people who seemed to be practicing. Andy admired the uniforms.

I took more pictures of baby leaves as he watched volleyball practice.

The loop took us right back to the picnic pavilion and our car.

October 11, 2015 – Alligator Lake Park, Lake City, Florida

We had a wonderful walk today.  One of the nicest ever. Alligator Lake Park is a county park right in Lake City. It is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. We chose the three-mile Montgomery Trail, which is on a dike around and through the lake.  The lake had been diked and drained in the 1950s for agriculture.

I have tried to keep my photos in the order taken. I took about 235 pictures today, so this is just a small sample of the park experience. This is the beginning of the trail, just past the trail head sign.

b01 Beginning of Montgomery Trail

This is my first glimpse of the water from the trail.  It looks like Monet took the picture.  The photo did not turn our weird, that is exactly how it looks.

b02 Water Scene

As the trail rounded a curve, it became a grassy lawn. It was grassy most of the three miles.

b03 Path on Dike

There was water on both sides, but it took me a while to realize that we were walking on a dike. My turtle picture did not turn out too sharp.  A lot of the pictures were a bit fuzzy today.  I think the camera had trouble focusing, because the background was always so busy. I am a snapshooter and don’t mess with the camera settings, but I really should learn to use the manual focus. He is a big guy.

b04 Turtle

This is a snowy egret, a bit out of focus as well.


It was a pretty day, but mostly cloudy. Here, we wee approaching a bridge.

b06 Bridge

The landscape was full of these tiny Morning Glories.  They were only about and inch or two across.

b07 Tiny Morning Glories

Here are a couple views of the open water/marsh.

b08 Lake View

I think I took this one from that bridge.

b09 Lake from Bridge

Butterflies were everywhere, fluttering all around us. This one is a Gulf Fritillary.

b10 Orange and Black Butterfly

We got a laugh out of this Tiger Swallowtail inside a blossom.

b11 Butterfly in Flower

I don’t think I have seen one of these before.  Google Images tells me it is a Cloudless Sulphur.

b12 Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Zebra Wings always flitter around so fast that I have a hard time getting a picture of one. This one cooperated for me. I had never noticed the red dots along the body on the underside of the wing before.

b13 Zebra Wing Butterfly

I thought this was a moth, but found it with Google Images.  It is a Buckeye Butterfly.  I suppose it is from Ohio.

b14 Buckeye Butterfly

Here is another Snowy Egret standing on a clump of grass out in the water.

b15 Snowy Egret


We are a long way from the Everglades, so I was surprised to see Anhingas here.  This is a female.  You can tell by the brown neck and head; males are all black and with white marking on the back.

b16 Anhinga Female

I liked this little island of small cypress trees.  Notice all the water lillies in front of them.

b17 Cypress Trees and Water Lillies

We were walking along and minding our own business when suddenly this huge Great Blue Heron flapped and squawked out of the tree next to us.  It landed just a few yards away, up to its belly in the water.  I said we were just as startled my the heron as it was by us.  Andy thought that knowledge would be of little comfort to the heron.

b18 Startled Great Blue Heron

There were thousands of water lillies on the lake, but I did not get a single picture in sharp focus.  This may be one of the best.

b18 Water Lillies

We came across another Great Blue Heron a bit farther along.  This one was not bothered by us. I just love those red thighs.

b19 Great Blue Heron

Here is another snap of the trail.

b20 Trail

We came to a second bridge.

b21 Arched Bridge

Here is an Ibis sitting in a cypress tree.

b22 Ibis in Cypress Tree

A bit past that bridge, we saw a genuine swamp on the right side.

b23 Swamp

It is beautiful, in a swampy kind of way.

b24 Swamp 2

One more Snowy Egret with the yellow feet showing.

b25 Snowy Egret

After the swamp, we left the water’s edge and walked through a bit of marshy forest.  Before long, we got back to the playground and pavilion where we had parked the car.  The parking lot was full and there were several picnics in progress.  The playground was covered in children. There is also a large, screened in pavilion.

b26 Screened Pavilion

Despite the name of Alligator Lake, we did not see a single alligator today.