Savannas bathing

The Florida peacock butterfly is abundant and easy to find in South Florida as it flies low and likes roadsides and the weedy edges of fields.

I spotted this one along Green River Parkway the other day, just before I headed into the Savannas Preserve.

This entrance is not used much. Nice wide path but mown less frequently than some trails. I had parked in a small dirt pull-out along Green River Parkway.

I was looking for birds, and a few new plants to log and learn on iNaturalist.

This, I learned, is a coastalplain staggerbush, Lyonia fruticosa, related to the fetterbush lyonia that also has little bell flowers like blueberries.

It was growing among palmettos and other shrubs. It likes pine woodlands and shrub bogs at low elevations ranging from South Carolina south through Florida.

Around the bend and open view of the shallow wetlands (freshwater basin marsh) characteristic of the Savannas.

Savannas Preserve State Park is predominantly a savanna; open grasslands with sparse South Florida slash pine trees. The park is made up of pine flatwoods, basin marsh, scrubby flatwoods, wet prairie and the Atlantic scrub ridge. Protecting southeast Florida’s largest freshwater marsh, the Savannas Preserve State Park manages over 7,000 acres.

Something pink caught my eye.

With the help of iNaturalist, I identified the pink stuff as apple snail eggs!

There are several species of apple snails in Florida and only one is native. But the birds that eat them, like limpkins and snail kites, have adapted to eat non-natives too.

I could set up a chair here and just gaze. It’s a different sort of scene from beach and ocean, but I suspect it would have the same sort of mind-clearing, happy-making effect.

A pleasant trail, marked with white blazes, it was muddy in some spots and I suspect impassable in the wettest part of the wet season.

This dragonfly is a Halloween pennant. What a wonderful job, being a namer of dragonflies!

I saw more birds flying along the road and wading in roadside ditches than here in the official preserve, but I did get one Great Egret.

Also a distant Osprey.

The term “blue mind” describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on or under water. It’s the antidote to what we refer to as “red mind,” which is the anxious, over-connected and over-stimulated state that defines the new normal of modern life. Research has proven that spending time near the water is essential to achieving an elevated and sustained happiness.

As if you need “research” to tell you that.

The trail leads back through the woods for some Florida-style forest bathing… and flower bathing! (I just made that up. Is it a thing yet or should I invent it, find some supporting research, and write a best-selling book?)

Come to the woods for here is rest. – John Muir

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