I had an old memory of seeing otters playing in a river I visited long ago. It took me a good few minutes to recall exactly where this was. It was after all 10 years ago. I traced the road in my mind and eventually I remembered it was just down, down Fletcher Avenue. Using trusty Google Maps I confirmed it visually and only upon seeing the sign on the road driving up did I think, "of course, it's Morris Bridge Wilderness Park."
Unfortunately, I saw no otters this time, but a number of other forest river creatures. The above big grasshopper was not opposed to a lens being relatively close to its face, so I made this photograph using my Nikkor 105mm VR micro f/2.8 G lens and thanked it for its patience afterwards.
The above small frog was king of this puddle. It's driving me crazy wondering if that's a bottle cap in the lower part of the shot or not? Maybe it's an acorn cap actually, I hope. Walking along the Hillsborough River on the Bald Cypress Trail was only in spots muddy. Otherwise there was all firm ground on a trail as close to the river as you could get, and at the same level of the water as well. It makes this park pretty unique to me.
There was the occasional kayak and canoe passing by. Otherwise, it was an entirely peaceful hike along the river. The only potential hazard was when Aya and Kiki nearly stepped right onto a snake! I saw it at the last minute and grabbed Aya's shoulder letting the snake wake up and quickly and safely slither off. It was a harmless garter-type snake though. I wish I would have noticed it sooner so I could have gotten a photo of it!
It wouldn't be a trip into Florida wetlands without seeing an alligator. The only one of the day was the above little fella that couldn't even bother to put his legs forward after crawling out of the river. Aya said that he stared at her with a tough look. To me he looked friendly.
While the first part of the trail loop was along the main fingers of the Hillsborough River and narrow and at times muddy, the return portion of the loop was high and dry with views of the surrounding wetlands. A nice contrast actually that made for a good hour and a half of forest time with a river running through it.