We visit Sweetwater Wetlands Preserve in Gainesville, FL at least once every time we visit the area. This 125 acre man-made wetland with wide trails and boardwalks attracts wildlife and people. Originally created to improve the water quality of Paynes Prairie, it became a favorite of ours when we discovered it a few years ago, and a favorite of many of our friends as we recommended it and they visited. We often see people taking their morning run or walk through the Preserve, a wonderfully scenic way to exercise.
Our latest trip included watching an alligator glide through the water with a large piece of vegetation attached to its tail. Perhaps it heard us laughing, as suddenly and smoothly without a ripple it did an S-type maneuver and left the branch behind.
As we walked along the boardwalk a Little blue heron popped up from foraging in a clump of grasses, stared at us for a moment, then disappeared, going back to work. We were obviously not of interest, or of concern.
We walked by this juvenile hawk or kite, not sure which, in the grass on the side of one of the trails. I slowly walked by as far on the other side of the trail as I could. Even so, it saw me and didn’t take off. I wondered about injury, but it settled my fears by hopping once or twice then taking off.
Our casual walk resulted in a respectable field list of bird, butterfly, and reptile observations, and a good time. We used to end our photography presentations and classes with the observation that even if your foray into nature did not result in a photograph you liked, you still had the experience.