Sunday, June 14, 2015

30 Days in June: Day 11 and 12, Alfred Ring Park

Bluebird at the Ballpark

Day 11 was kind of a bust. I spent the morning at Northeast Park (a tree lined City recreation park in my neighborhood, with baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a playground and a dog park) trying to find a Northern Flicker that a friend had reported. I did not find the Flicker even after spending an hour and a half looking. I found lots of Red Headed Woodpeckers and Bluebirds, but no Flicker. It wasn't very fun and I was frustrated at the end of the morning. The problem was that I had forgotten my real purpose in my "30 Days in June" adventure, and had given into my competitive self, trying to collect bird sightings. Instead of experiencing and enjoying, I was acquiring, which is never satisfying because you never have enough. And since I hadn't acquired my desired item yet, I drove over to Morningside to see if I could scare up a Flicker there. I didn't see a Flicker there, either, but when I played Flicker sounds in the area where I'd seen them in the past, the Brown Headed Nuthatches got very agitated and I could see them fly around.

Yelloweyed Grass (Xyris sp.)

Tarflower (Bejaria racemosa)
Florida Plantain (Arnoglossum floridanum)
I spent another hour or so walking, and I realized I was so much happier doing that than standing next to the tennis courts at Northeast Park, or driving to the far edges of the county, trying to find a certain hard-to-get bird. I do this every year and I never enjoy myself when I go out with an agenda. I promised myself right then that the rest of the month would be spent visiting places I actually wanted to see before we leave Florida, and let the list happen as it will. When just I let myself just enjoy and explore at Morningside and it was much more satisfying. I was much more "in the moment" and thus open to serendipity. As a result, I found Tarflower and Xyris blooming in the flatwoods and happened on a large cluster of Florida Plantain in full bloom in the sandhill. I have only seen a couple Florida Plantains blooming ever and never seen so many at once. They are beautiful and remind me a little bit of Milkweed blooms, though they are members of the Aster Family. This plant is endemic to Florida.

With renewed purpose, the next day I went to visit Alfred Ring Park. I did not add any new birds to my June Challenge list, but I did add bugs and bark and squirrels. It was a great afternoon.

Hogtown Creek Runs Through the Heart of Gainesville

When we first moved to Gainesville we lived within (long) walking distance of Ring Park. We would sometimes take our dog Sadie on a long loop walk, from our house, through the park and back home again. My husband and daughter used to go on long runs that would take them through the park. When I taught environmental education at Morningside Nature Center, we would bring classes to Ring Park to teach how macro invertebrates can be an indicator of water quality and the importance of keeping our streams clean. One year we taught a camp all about Trees, and I spent a couple of wonderful hours learning about different types of Florida trees with my friend and co-teacher, Grace. She introduced me to Hophornbeam and American Hornbeam (or Musclewood, a name I like better).  There is such personality in the various textures of tree bark. I think it could be cool to put together a bark poster, organizing them like a patchwork quilt.


Loblolly Pine


American Hornbeam (See the "muscles"? It looks like sinewy limbs.)


Southern Magnolia


Ring Park is where I go if I want to find Ebony Jewelwing Damselflies or beetles and bugs. The wet, damp environment makes it a great place for fungi and for plants like Green Dragon, a relative of Jack in the Pulpit. It's a good place to find spiders and owls, and definitely for squirrels.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Millipede and Moss

Big, Camouflaged Spider

Purse Web Spider Web

Owl Feather?

Greendragon (Arisaema dracontium) --Look at the beautiful, logarithmic spiral!


Noisy, Gnawing Squirrel

It's a popular park, located between neighborhoods, in the heart of Gainesville. People walk their dogs and exercise, look for shark's teeth and picnic. One of my friends, Merald, proposed to his wife at Ring Park. I love to walk on the boardwalks and paths and look out over the creek. It is a place full of life. When I think of Ring Park, I think of rich, wet greens. It feels like Gainesville.



Green Sky


  1. Love these photos and love your 30 days in June.

    1. Thank you for your support! 15 days to go...

  2. I especially enjoyed the various textures of bark. I have a couple from Senegal that you might like to see if I can find them. The Camouflaged Spider is interesting, too. It's wonderful to have such places within the city.

    1. I'd love to see your photos, John. And I'd love to go to Senegal and see the bark in person!