Visit to Gold Branch State Park

20191014 Deer on Ridge Trail
Doe peeking around bush along hiking trail. Taken at 400mm.

We spend several days camping at the Mike Roess Gold Branch State Park. Located north-east of Gainesville, somehow we missed this park all these years. As happens too often lately, the pleasant weather forecast turned out wrong and naturally in the direction of hotter and more humid weather. Still, mornings and evenings remained pleasant so we hiked and explored as planned.

We found our campsite situated perfectly in a pine flatwoods, with bursts of color from the fall wildflowers everywhere we looked. We walked the trail leading to the swimming area every evening. The flowers along the trail attracted a lot of pollinators, and gave me needed close-up practice with my camera-lens configuration.

We hiked the Ravine trail the first morning, taking advantage of slightly less heat and humidity. We saw deer, usually the back end as they fled from our approach, at several points during the hike. This doe started to run, then turned. We saw she had not run far, so stopped and then walked very slowly. Gradually she peeked around the bush, then came out a bit further, then decided caution ruled and ran into the brush. This shot caught my eye due to lighting. The light illuminates her reddish-pink ear, and whiskers, and provides a catch light in the one eye.

20191013 TUTI
Tufted Titmouse

We heard rather than saw a wide variety of birds. This Tufted titmouse flew back and forth feeding. I stood for several minutes trying to follow with my lens for a good shot. 20191014 YBCU on Ridge TrailAs we finished our hike, I noticed a larger bird in the tree. Guidebooks show the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as a summer resident, but this one still hung around in mid-October. The light and the angle prevented a good shot, this I classify as an identification shot. Or, if I am called to task on the rare occasion I enter my lists in eBird, a shot proving I saw what I claim.

We found the park lovely, quiet, and out of the way. We definitely plan a return visit.

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