I'm trying to get into a sort of routine here regarding exercise. I put on a lot of weight over the summer and it needs to go. If I can't do it here, I never will. The weather and this park makes it easy to do plenty of walking and biking and swimming and generally being outside getting fresh air.
Back in the UK I don't exactly live in a concrete jungle and as I've said in previous posts, I can be in the countryside in a few minutes. But apart from the odd rabbit, I don't see much wildlife. That doesn't mean it's not there. Just means I don't see it.
I was sitting in our lanai room yesterday and glanced out to the tree which is right beside it. This little fella was running up and down the trunk and as I had my camera handy, I took a couple of photos through the window. I have to admit we've not cleaned the windows since we got here a week ago so they're not at their best.........but I just wanted a record of the scene and didn't care that it wasn't perfect.
Sometimes you just gotta make do.
The squirrels that congregate around the Cafe On The Lake all winter are nowhere to be seen right now and we've wondered where they are. I like the idea of them heading off somewhere with little suitcases for pastures new until the snowbirds return to the park and their food supply is restored. But I blame that Disney fella for filling my imagination with such images. He's scarred me for life.
More likely, they've just spread out around the park and are hoping for scraps of food lying around on the properties that are occupied.
They won't find anything on THIS property !!
So back to this exercise business. I'd walked along a nice 30 minute route the last 2 mornings but it was always closer to noon than early morning and I'd return dripping with sweat and having a cold shower didn't help much.
So this morning I got up at 7:15 (a time I never knew existed in the UK), had my 2 cups of coffee and then set out for my walk. I decided to 'design' a better route - one that incorporated both the nature trails that run around the edge of the park. The first one hugs Jackson Creek for about 1 km before spitting you out onto the internal park road system and after a short walk along one of these roads, you come to the other trail which takes you through scenery that better suits the name nature.
But first, before getting to the Jackson Creek trail, I came to the lake and as usual, there were a few wading birds along it's edge dipping their long beaks under the water and pecking out whatever critters they could find.
I know my posts could easy become boring with constant photos of birds, especially the same birds, so I promise to limit future photos to ones where the birds are unusual or they are doing something unusual.
A heron or a stork with a vaudeville cane and straw hat would fit that criteria but don't hold your breath.
Maybe a crane with a cane. Has a ring to it.
I've not had much experience taking photos of birds in flight but one took off, started by my approach (or dazzled by the glare from my still white Brit legs) and I took the photo you see here.
It didn't fly far enough to retract it's landing gear - although even when it does, it's ridiculously thin legs just stick out behind it's body like a couple of twigs it's snagged along the shoreline.
Landing is incredibly graceful as these twigs suddenly shoot forwards to initially help with balance and then with a sort of hover worthy of a Harrier Jet, it gently lands with all the nimbleness of a prima ballerina.
Bloody show off.
While still at the edge of the lake and close to the wooden pier, I spotted a large butterfly darting around as only butterflies can do. Yes I know many winged critters dart around but few have wings the size of butterflies. In relation to their bodies, they are huge and how they can change direction so fast is one of natures mysteries - one that the military of any nation would love to crack as it would make their fighter aircraft invincible.
This butterfly knew nothing about head up displays, power to weight ratios and thrust vectors. It just wanted something to eat from the mud.
On the few occasions when it landed, the background was always a distraction. I tried to coax it onto the rail of the pier but it wasn't in a photogenic mood.
I could've picked it up, stuck a pin though it and nailed it to the pier but that idea had so many downsides that I soon dismissed it. I also wasn't carrying a pin so it was really a non starter.
Oh now don't start on me. I'd never be so cruel. I'd stun it with a blunt object first.
I continued on my new route and soon reached the 2nd nature trail which really takes you close.......to nature. Well nature of a sort. On one side, the lawns of the manufactured houses come right down to the path and on the other, it's like a subtropical jungle and I'd never dare leave the trail and enter it's depths. The flora and fauna is totally alien to me and I should have taken photos - I will next time. I half expected an inquisitive velociraptor head to pop out at me as it was that kind of area. The unsettling bird and insect noises grew louder and I sped up.
Once back out on park roads I let both my pace and my heart rate slow down and took the shortest route back to the house. I was surprised to find I'd only been out 31 minutes and I'll get that time down by not stopping so often to take photos !! I do want to take my camera though in case I come upon a gator or more likely, a snake as we don't get many of those in the north Leeds suburbs. I'd heard there was recently a snake in the main swimming pool and when the temps approach 100F in the shade, I don't blame it. It just needs to slither out when I get there as I hate to go round ANYTHING when I'm doing lengths !
All that exercise has given me an appetite. I think we'll go to a breakfast buffet as I'm sure I've lost way too much weight already today to be healthy !!