Over two days. And both within minutes from our home. Yesterday evening we dropped by the Lettuce Lake Park for a change of scenery during a different time of the day (the previous visit was at noon). Mark was nowhere to be seen, but armed with our newly acquired knowledge, thanks to Mark, we set out on our own.
We had better luck this time though, spotting a young gator lazing on a small log. We would have missed it if not for a couple training their eyes in a certain direction, the male through a long-lens camera. So instinct told me that it had to be something unique. I was able to locate the alligator while wify needed some guidance before the outline of the alligator was reflected into her retina which the brain then interpreted, after scourging through the stored images including those of Alberto and Alberta (the UF mascots), as a close cousin of the crocodile, with a different shape of the snout.
Then there was the blue heron (or was it the snowy egret? We could not be sure as we could not see its legs clearly). However, the evening scenery was as panoramic as the noon's.
The observation tower in the distance, framed within the branches draped all over by spanish moss.
The young gator, motionless, oblivious to the attention it had attracted. When we doubled back about half an hour later, it was in about the same posture. Talk about the ability to maintain stillness, the very best candidate for a meditation stance. The slightly blurred image is the result of extending the optical zoom (3X) on our Nikon Colorpix L6, so I reasoned.
The first time we spotted the blue heron, roosting on a shallow shoal.
The same blue heron from a different part of the walkway. Look at the near perfect reflection of the blue sky above, and the reflected image of the head of the blue heron, as if it had just emerged from the tree canopy.
The eagle has landed. No, it's the same blue heron, exercising its ability to fly, perched on a branch amidst the leaves, and playing hide and seek with me.
Today, we decided to drop by USF, just across the street from us. The place we visited faces the Psychology Building, where we know there is a lake from our prior visit to the campus. The time was evening too. However, instead of a multitude of wildlife like in Lettuce Lake Park, this lake setting is dominated by monoculture: ducks. There were everywhere, in the lake, in the air (ducks do fly), on the bank, up on the pavement, and even on a bridge railing. Also, they get close to the human species, of which there were many then, people like us yearning for some quiet solace in an urban setting.
We sauntered twice over the looped paved walkway, enjoying the cool breeze brushing by, the sun setting in the distance. Further afield at the Music Building, several people were seen hurrying toward it, each lugging a piece of musical instrument. We also heard several musical notes emitting from the Building, disrupting the stillness, the otherwise quiet save for the birds squawking. “A musical performance may be slotted for the night,” wify commented.
At first, we thought this could just be a nameless place of quiet refuge for USF students to seek communion with nature, giving the mind a well-earned rest from the seemingly incessant book cramming in order to stay afloat in the academic setting. Then we passed by a monument, declaring this to be the Simmons Park, dedicated to the memory of Ellsworth G. Simmons, a Tampa civic leader.
Hence, a tale of two parks, at close proximity but different in all other aspects. It's our good fortune that we live close to them, by design of sort but gradually discovering the locational advantage of our chosen residence, a time-lapsed unveiling process that guarantees more pleasant surprises to come.
A panaromic view of the USF lake, colonized by ducks only.
The denizens of the lake, one of which was standing on the bank nearby as if on sentinel duty, giving me a "Don't mess with me" look when I approached.
Wify standing on one of the two bridge crossings, with the fountain as the backdrop.
A duck on a railing, a proof that this duck flies. It obviously can't climb with its webbed feet.
Wify standing next to the Maple tree, a bit of deduction on my part from its distintive leaf shape. Scroll down for the next image for a closeup.
The sharp pointed leaves characteristic of maple leaves, as seen here, the branches seemingly ensnarling a jumbo, a photographic trick applied just in time by yours truly, after mentally calculating the relative position of the plane, allowing for its forward speed, with respect to my ground position vis-a-vis the stationary tree on the fly ... Just kidding.
An urban sunset, the sun as if escaping from the out-stretched booms of the two tower cranes while the ducks seemingly scuttling away from its reflection on the lake resulting in tiny wave crests rippling across the lake surface.