Thursday, June 25, 2015

30 Days in June: Day 24, San Felasco (City) Park

San Felasco Park--the Big Picture
Errands and appointments yesterday put me on the far NW side of town and it seemed like a good day to visit San Felasco (City) Park. It is so confusing that we have so many San Felasco Parks. This one used to be a County park but was acquired by the City about 5-6 years ago. Many people are not aware that it even exists because it has the same name as the State Park. I think renaming it would be a big help. If anyone asks, my suggestion would be to name it after Alice Tyler, a founding member of Friends of Nature Parks, and active member of Alachua Audubon, Florida Native Plant Society, Sierra Club, Florida Trails Association and other nature support organizations. I would definitely go to Alice Tyler Park.

Mushroom and Moss on the Trail
My first visit to San Felasco Park was about 5 years ago when I was still teaching at Morningside. We had a session of summer camp where we took the campers to explore as many parks as we could during the week. The campers loved the play structures and enjoyed the walks to the cypress dome and the marsh overlook. I was able to do a little exploring on my own during my lunch break and discovered a quiet trail that led to a dark swamp in the woods. It was very enjoyable and I remember seeing Partridge Berries for the first time.

Picnic Area and Playground
I came to the park on another occasion for a guided bird walk offered by Alachua Audubon and led by the City's park biologist, Geoff Parks. We learned a lot about the park and saw lots of birds I would not have seen without his help. I could have used his help again on this trip. I'm sure he would have helped me add some new birds to my list!

Broken Bird Egg 
Maralee and I explored this San Felasco several times. It is practically in her back yard, so she knows it well. She showed me beautiful yellow Bladderwort flowers in the ditches along the utility easement just outside the park boundaries. It was always a good place for frogs and turtles, butterflies and birds.

Golden Silk Orbweaver Spider
Last year I had the opportunity to lead a guided nature walk through the park for Friends of Nature Parks. I read a lot about the history and significance of the park and walked through several times in preparation so that I could know the interesting nature to point out to my group. A friendly and helpful group of about 6 people came and we swatted mosquitoes and looked at plants and animals and then the skies opened up and it poured. But we had a great time.

Hairy Laurel (Kalmia hirsuta)
Cinnamon Fern Fiddlehead (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Purse Web Spider Tube
I was thinking of all these experiences as I walked, stopping at the shelter with interpretive panels, then at the marsh overlook. I walked up the boardwalk to the cypress dome, which was bone dry, then back up the path to the bridge over Blues Creek, also dry. I saw some flowers, but mostly there were the hints of flowers to come later in the summer. The birds were very quiet, probably due to the heat. It was late morning by the time I arrived. I heard Towhees and Cardinals and the occasional Red Shouldered Hawk.

Informative Panels

Path Through Urban Woods
I had hoped to walk along the power easement, but it was closed. I was disappointed, but also a little relieved because the path is in full sun and I was getting hot. But in turning back I saw a cluster of lovely flowering vines that I had missed while walking over.

Oh Well...

Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans)
I retraced my path back to the playground and decided to visit that quiet path through the woods that I had seen years ago during summer camp. The trail was hidden and narrow and I was not quite sure if it was a real path or just one made by the neighbors cutting through the woods to the park. But when I saw the wooden bridge over a dry creek I knew it was at least a little official. The path took me to the dark swamp in the woods where there was some water. And this is where the birds were. I saw an Eastern Kingbird, many Great Crested Flycatchers, Woodpeckers, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, and heard Osprey from a distance.

Narrow Path Through the Woods

Bridge Over Dry Creek

Wet Cypress Swamp

Noisy Great Crested Flycatcher

Gray Squirrel
I left the park with quite a few bug bites (the yellowflies were fierce) but no ticks. I did not see any new birds for my list, but I had a nice time in another favorite natural area. Maybe when I come back to visit it will have a new name.

Vanilla Leaf (Carphephorus odoratissimus)

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