Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

Today began with gloriously overcast skies.  Summers in Florida are not always the most pleasant for hiking, and I really needed my nature fix, so we decided to go for a hike to enjoy the pearly gray skies and slightly cooler temperatures.

Almost immediately after starting along a trail we spotted many deer tracks.  It was a bit late in the morning to see deer so there was little hope of a sighting.  We could see deer tracks in all sizes, even some smaller than my thumb. Of course, I didn't think of taking a photo of the tracks at the time, but this would have been a nice play to insert one. 

I really love velvety green moss, one of my favorite things to line a terrarium with (I even have a little crop of it at home).  This piece of moss peeking up through the oak leaves looks almost like a green heart. There's a bit of reindeer moss growing on top.  I saw lots of reindeer moss, but did not pick any because it is protected. 
We saw quite a large variety of mushrooms, lichens, and moss.  These last few days of rain have really brightened the moss and lichens and helped the mushrooms to pop up. 

We saw some wildlife, although it was elusive and difficult to capture in photos.  We saw a large cottontail rabbit,  tufted titmice, cardinals and red-winged blackbirds.  Mostly we heard the birds singing, and the cicadas buzzing.  Then, I almost walked face first into this:

It's hard to tell in this photo...but this is a large golden orb weaver spider. They really love to create enormous webs across a shady pathway.  Most of the ones we saw measured about 2 to 2.5 inches across, not what you want to walk into face-first, that is for sure!

As we walked, I found this burnt log, that looks almost like it could be the skull of a dragon:

I love to forage through the woods for interesting bits of nature to bring home, and today I found the greatest prize. I found a deer antler! Each year a deer grows new antlers and at the end of a season they shed them.  I'd always hoped to find one, and today was my lucky day.
Here's a photo of it back at my home:

I also found what has been my Holy Grail plant of terrarium creating: The British Soldier Lichen.  It's not an uncommon species, but not usually common in the places where I've looked. Here's a photo of it with a bit of the green cushion moss I'm growing:

It has the most beautiful little red "flowers".  I'm guessing that's how it got it's name--because of the beautiful shade of red, like little "redcoats".

As we were leaving, happy and invigorated from our hike, a friendly black vulture came down and seemed to pose for me:

Today was such a treat, I wish I could do this every single day.  It's so inspirational to be out in nature. My soul feels recharged, my mind at peace.


  1. Sounds wonderful!! Love your 'find!'

  2. Great hike! Looks like you saw lots of wonders of nature. I love to explore and find treasure. It's everywhere if we just look closely and appreciate.

  3. Brilliant - and what a fabulous antler to find! I read about the british soldier lichen yesterday, it seems you're right, it's named after the "redcoats". Love the dragon log!