Three Weeks Birding in Florida - Ocala.

As I write this final entry it is hard to realise it is just three weeks since we returned from Florida and began to adjust to cold grey skies and birds that FLY AWAY...

We had decided to spend a couple of days at Ocala before flying home as this town is within easy reach of Orlando International Airport while still having excellent State and National Parks within easy reach. Indeed, Silver Springs State Park was a 10 minute walk from the hotel and provided (among other things) our one reasonably close view of an American Kestrel. The nearby Rainbow Springs State Reserve also delivered a day of great birding with good views of a Pileated Woodpecker building his nest and several Carolina Wrens in the woodland. 

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Pileated Woodpecker Nest-building.

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Carolina Wren.
The beautiful clear waters of these parks also provide ideal conditions for turtles and water-birds. Next time perhaps we will finally try our hands at kayaking ...

A Terrapin surfaces briefly for air.

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Four Double-crested Cormorants fish for Lunch.
Reptiles (including snakes) and butterflies are also abundant in these accessible gems - all for just a couple of dollars each.

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Yellow Rat-snake (not venomous )!

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Giant Swallowtail Butterfly.
In some ways though, the best was saved to last when we visited Paines Prairie Preserve in search of Limkins and anything else we might see: I had not been sure of seeing limpkins by now when planning the holiday as they were actually much less numerous 20 years ago).  More about this next...

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