Tales From The Field: A Stroll Through Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fernandina Beach, Florida

The starting point of my walk

Not all good tales come from exotic locales. You don’t have to have a passport to get to somewhere worthwhile. And good adventures don’t all have to be exciting, much less life-threatening. Just getting out into nature wherever you live or travel to can yield fun, amusing and interesting stories. I’m known for my adventures in Mongolia, but I love to get out in nature and animal watch wherever I am. For instance, last March I spent over a week exploring southern Georgia and also some of the northern Florida barrier islands like Amelia Island and the town of Fernandina Beach, Florida, which turns out to have a wonderful and clearly much-loved community amenity, Egan’s Creek Greenway, a park braided with trails that run right through the town. Kudos to the townspeople who had the will and vision to set aside this natural area. You can read more about my March 2016 trip here and here.

We live in a rural coastal county in northern California, where the biggest reptile one is likely to encounter are large but harmless gopher snakes or a watch-your-fingers-cause-they-bite Pacific giant salamander. So it was a bit of stopper to see this sign upon entering what is essentially a town park…

gater sign

I walked most of the way to the northern end and back.

It was late afternoon and the light was getting better minute by minute.

which trail

The trail split. I followed the one to the left, saving the one along the stream for the way back.


It was March but a few wildflowers were already blooming.


I really liked the three different textures of the grass, water plant, and trees.


I saw a movement around twenty yards ahead. I had my long lens so was able to get some good photos of what I believe are marsh rabbits (Silvilagus palustris). I noticed that they stayed in the shade, which makes sense for a prey animal. They are similar in appearance and size to the brush rabbits we have here in Humboldt County.

turtles 1

Turtles! This was a big deal for me since I’d never seen any in the wild before other than sea turtles in Hawaii. They are yellow belly sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta).

turtles 2

These were to the right of the ones in the first photo, all catching some last rays before sundown.

trail 2

I had learned about this trail while chatting with my Airbnb host and this was my only chance to check it out. I couldn’t have come at a better time since the light was great and there was almost no one else around.


I came upon a great egret in soft cool light.

egret 2

It took off and I got a good shot of it in flight.


After that sign at the trailhead, this log stopped me for an instant.

trail 4

I came to another open area adjacent to a deep water-filled depression where the trails went off in different directions, I was getting pretty close to being back to where I’d started. I happened to look down into the pond…

gator 1

And what do you know? An alligator! At least six feet long, also catching the last of the day’s sun.

gator 2

Can you spot the gator?


I walked on and a short time later came upon another grazing bunny who quickly hopped into the brush. I caught up to where I thought he’d gone and there he was, holding very still.


A few minutes later I spotted this male cardinal. We don’t have these where I live so I always get a kick out of seeing them even though I know they’re quite common.

feron and turtles

A short distance more and I was out of the greenway into the open and here was a big pond with not only a great blue heron (we do have them here on the west coast, too), but  more turtles!

Red-tailed hawk 3

As I photographed the heron and turtles, I spotted something in the sky. It was a red-tailed hawk circling around. I took a lot of photos and finally got a few of the bird as it turned and caught the light.

What a day. But there was one more treat in store.

Palm warbler

As I walked back to the parking area I spotted a small bird hopping around in the chain link fence and managed to get this one photo. It’s a palm warbler, a new species for me.

The whole walk was at most three hours. I had nothing in mind, just to explore a new area and see what was there. What places are there where you live that you’ve never gotten around to exploring? We tend to take where we live for granted, but nature is ever-changing and no walk or hike will ever be exactly the same. If you’ve discovered a local gem where you live tell me about it in the comments!

Wildlife Sightings In Georgia and New York State, March 2016

Eastern cottontail
Eastern cottontail, Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

This is a wildlife wrap-up of my trip back east since my next trip to Mongolia is coming up in three weeks and I’ve got posts coming about that. I was going to do a short post about the wildlife that I saw in Georgia, a bit of Florida and New York state. Instead it took me almost all of yesterday to pick out one of each of as many critters as I had decent photos of and make any adjustments necessary. Turns out I saw a LOT. I’m going to start with mammals, then birds, reptiles and finally insects. It’s a long post, but I wanted everything in one place for future reference. Hope you enjoy this wildlife trip!


White-tailed deer
White-tailed deer, Okefenokee NWR. Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia
Eastern grey squirrel
Eastern grey squirrel, Okefenokee NWR, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia
Eastern grey squirrel, red squirrel
Eastern grey squirrel and red squirrel, Hudson River Valley, New York State (red squirrel was a new species for me)
Eastern chipmunk
Eastern chipmunk, Hudson River Valley, New York State
Muskrat, pond in the Hudson River Valley, New York (seen while out painting on location with Jim Coe; first muskrat I had ever seen, so had to post a photo even though it’s not a good one; for the record)


Wood stork
Wood stork, Harris Neck NWR
White ibis
White ibis, Okefenokee NWR, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia
Glossy ibis
Glossy ibis, Savannah NWR, South Carolina
Anhinga, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Tricolor heron
Tricolor heron, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Great blue heron
Great blue heron Egan’s Creek Greeway, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida (notice the turtles off to the right)
Great egret
Great egret, Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fernandina Beach,  Amelia Island, Florida
Little blue heron
Little blue heron, Turtle River area, Georgia
Green heron
Green heron, Harris Neck NWR, Georgia
Ring-necked ducks
Ring-necked ducks, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Blue-winged teal; American alligator
Blue-winged teal; American alligator, Savannah NWR
Common moorhen
Common moorhen (juvenile), Harris Neck NWR
Turkey vultures
Turkey vultures, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Turkey, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker, Okefenokee NWR
Hairy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Red-bellied woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker, Hudson River Valley, New York state
White-breasted nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatch, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Blue jay
Blue jay, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Purple finch
Purple finch and goldfinches, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Tufted titmouse
Tufted titmouse, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Cardinal, near Harris Neck NWR
Mourning dove
Mourning dove, near Turtle River, Georgia
Mockingbird, near Turtle River, Georgia
Blur-grey gnatcatcher
Blue-grey gnatcatcher, near Turtle River, Georgia
Warbler, Okefenokee NWR, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia
-Palm warbler
Palm warbler, Egan’s Creek Greemway, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida
Slate-colored junco
Slate-colored junco, Hudson River Valley, New York state
Boat-tailed grackle
Boat-tailed grackle, Savannah NWR

Birds I saw but did not get photos of or don’t have good ones include: swallowtail kite (no photo), cormorants, various ducks, a belted kingfisher, cowbird, snowy egret, and gallinule.


American alligator
American alligator, Okefenokee NWR, Okefenokee Swamp Park ( The park people named him”Crazy” because he is very aggressive and is the current dominant bull gator; 12′ long, 800-900 lbs.)
American alligator
American alligator, Okefenokee NWR
River cooters
River cooters, Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida
Soft-shelled turtle
Soft-shelled turtle, Okefenokee NWR
Banded water snakes
Banded water snakes, Okefenokee NWR
Midland water snakes
Midland water snake, Okefenokee NWR
Midland water snake
Midland water snake, Okefenokee NWR
Penninsula ribbon snake
Penninsula ribbon snake, Okefenokee NWR
Water moccasin
Water moccasin/cottonmouth, Okefenokee NWR
Water moccasin
Water moccasin/cottonmouth (I was told by a local who works in the woods, so has to know snakes, that this was the biggest one he’d ever seen and, from the bulge, it looked like the snake had a “belly full of frogs). This species is extremely venomous)
Green anole
Green anole, Okefenokee NWR


Spicebush swallowtail butterfly
Spicebush swallowtail butterfly, Okefenokee NWR
Spicebush swallowtail butterfly
Spicebush swallowtail butterfly, Okefenokee NWR
Dragonfly, Okefenokee NWR