Saturday morning, we (Angela, Amy, Duncan and me and my camera/Nikon D700 with a 28-300mm lens) went to De Leon Springs State Park and Blue Spring State Park, both located in Deland, Florida. After an “all you can eat” pancake breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant located in De Leon Springs State Park, we hiked one of the trails around the springs.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill sits beside the spring named for the legendary explorer Ponce DeLeon. Originally constructed to crush sugar cane utilizing the power of the 16 – 18 million gallons of water flowing from the spring daily, the mill boasts a 100 ft. undershot waterwheel. The actual construction date of the mill is a source of much debate with the date of a nearby chimney from the original mill dating back to 1570. We really did not need an all you can eat pancake breakfast after two days of feasting on Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings, but it was a great place to start our visit to De Leon Springs. The pancakes were outstanding, by the way, and were made on large griddles embedded in each table in the rustic, historic restaurant.
On the trail, the first “critter” that we spotted, and I photographed was a very large (almost 2 inch) Golden Silk Spider, also known as the harmless banana spider. Harmless or not, we did not get too close. The spider and its web were located at the foot of a wetland that we passed.
As we continued to walk the trail, we heard a hawk calling loudly as it flew above the trees. Then, we noticed that it stopped flying and perched about 60 feet up on the top of a nearby dead tree. As we approached the tree and hawk, I captured it looking down on, as it continued to call out loudly.
As we watched the hawk, I continued to photograph it until it leaped into the air and flew away, as seen in the following images.
After the hawk flew away, we continued on the trail and back toward the spring. As we were getting closer, we noticed squirrels snuggled up and napping, until we disturbed them. Below is one of the squirrels.
After returning to the spring, we left for Blue Spring State Park, where we saw many manatees, wading birds, fish, turtles and an alligator. I was able to photograph many of the manatees at Blue Spring and will post an article about them in the next couple days. Eventually, I will get back to processing the images from Bombay Hook and Blackwater National Refuges. I have had a couple wonderful and rewarding trips in several national and state parks lately and am behind in image processing. I hope to never get caught up, since that would mean more trips into some of nature’s amazing, beautiful and peaceful natural beauty.