Spring Hike at Hillsborough River State Park

March 2012

I love this time of year! Everything is turning green! Critters are full of energy, mating season is in full swing and the forest is coming alive!

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

Hillsborough River State Park is located about 45 minutes just North of Tampa on Hwy 301.

Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel

This place is one of the few wild places left in Hillsborough County. On any visit you are sure to see a variety of birds and mammals. Our first sighting was a young red-shouldered hawk and right after we saw a grey squirrel nibbling on the new green shoots of an oak tree. Orchids were starting to grow and baby lubber grasshoppers were gathered together on small shrubs.

Baby Lubber Grasshoppers

Baby Lubber Grasshoppers

It is so much fun sharing spring with individuals that have not been out to actually see all the outdoors has to offer. Today I was hiking with 3 wonderful young ladies that were very interested in all I had to show them.  We looked at the spring lilies blooming, small neon spiders with their perfect round webs, and we were even greeted by a very large Pileated Woodpecker that came down to the ground not far from us to nab a beetle.

Our lovely hikers

Our lovely hikers

The girls were surprised how beautiful the river was and that you could see the bottom – and even the fish! They marveled over a large beetle on a clump of moss growing low on the bark of a tree and the fast anoles that scurried from sight with each step down the trail.

Beetle

Cool Beetle!

We all ran across the bridges playing like children and watched as an Ibis hunted for a late morning snack. A small blue mayfly landed nearby and brought with him yet another round of inquisitive questions.

Hollow Oak Tree

Hollow Oak Tree

The trees along the trail were another subject for conversation “How old is this tree?” “Why is this tree hollow all the way up, how can it live?” “Why are the trees growing sideways?” Each question I answered with patience, hoping some of the information I shared would be retained.

Admiring an old giant

Admiring an old giant

American Alligator

American Alligator

The girls patiently watched for otters and armadillos, alligators and turtles and were please to see the latter of the two! We watched the alligators patiently, and they asked a lot of questions (once they realized it was safe to stay where we were). It was time for a break so we had a snack and opened an owl pellet that one of the guests of the park handed them. We added a bit of water to soften the pellet and the girls started tearing it apart gently. They found the remains of over 4 mice by the count of the skulls and mandibles. It was fun identifying many of the tiny bones, but soon they were ready to move on and hike some more.

Owl Pellet and chart

Owl Pellet and chart

More turtles, birds, climbing trees and alligators and fish were present the second part of the trip. I showed them a turtle den, blackberry flowering and wood sorrel. There were cardinals and squirrels to keep us company to.

River view

River view

Soon it was time to finish up for the day. I carry the smiles of these young ladies with me still. Their joy was contagious. If you get a chance, take a child outside. Show them that they have so much more to learn if they will just open their eyes and ears to the experience. Happy Spring to you all and happy trails!

Caterpiller

Caterpiller

For more information on Hillsborough River State Park visit: http://www.floridastateparks.org/hillsboroughriver/

For more photos from this trip “Click Here”

To take a guided hike, camping trip or backpacking trip with us visit: www.notaclueadventures.com

We are also on facebook  and Google +

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About notacluegal

Jeanene was born in Pittsburgh, PA. As a young child her family was very active in the outdoors. Things changed when her parents decided to travel down different paths in life and with that decision so went many of the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Being lucky to live in the suburbs Jeanene always had a backyard to play in and loved being outdoors. As the years passed she took every opportunity to be outdoors. She bought land in Tennessee and as a single mom moved her young daughter to the mountains. The were many life lessons learned on that mountain. There was no plumbing on the property – or even a house, but that did not stop her. She learned to live off of what was available and built her own cabin from the trees on her property. Those were rough years but the most rewarding. Now Jeanene resides in Tampa, Fl. and works as an office manager full time….but still yeans to be outdoors. Jeanene started “Not a Clue Adventures” to teach everyone she could how wonderful the outdoors are! That camping and fishing and hiking can be done by everyone and at many different levels. Single mom’s no longer have to be afraid to take their sons and daughters outdoors. By working with young couples, single parents and even seniors, she gets to teach others about her love for the outdoors and hopes to open their eyes to new adventures. In 2009, Jeanene completed certification as a Leave No Trace Instructor. She also works closely with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the Florida State Parks. Jeanene is also certified in First Aid/Adult CPR.
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