I enjoy pulling up Google Maps and looking for new state parks that are manageable day trips from St. Petersburg. Colt Creek State Park is a very new state park, I imagine the newest, as it just became public land in 2007. I called a day before visiting to confirm that dogs were allowed on the hiking trails and got a prompt call back to my voicemail stating pets are ok. Horseback riding is allowed in the park as well.
The park's website mentioned that some hiking trails can easily get flooded. This was the case as we visited the park at the height of the rainy season. The horses pictured above seemed to enjoy traipsing through the foot deep water, but we were limited in which trails we could brave. The horseback riders, as they circumnavigated the lake, spooked a flock of ibises from one end to the other. I tried to get back in position to capture these mini-migrations.
Despite the strong Florida mid-day sunshine, I was pleased with the landscape shots I was able to make, both in high speed shots, like the flock of birds immediately above, and the HDR shots like the lead photo. There are primitive campgrounds in this park that would make great staging areas for sunrise and sunset landscape photography. Once the temperatures go down and the mosquitoes take the fall and winter off, we will return and camp so as to be able to photograph the full beauty this park has to offer.
Likewise for the wildlife. Again, even in mid-day, there were plenty of white ibis wading and feeding, as well as some hiding out in the woods.
Besides the flocks of white ibis, there were a few other stray birds I could not quite see well enough to identify. While walking through a forest fire road, a good sized deer did not mind us interrupting her foraging for awhile. I say for awhile because as soon as I snapped on the old 80-200mm lens, she pranced off into the dense wood. Even though I did have my macro lens with me, I did not get around to photographing either of the two peculiar spider specimens we came across. Lazy for a photographer, I know, but the heat!
I look forward to returning to this mostly unknown state park and seeing what it has to offer in cooler times.