Eagles and Gators at Oakland Nature Preserve

We enjoy visiting Oakland Nature Preserve¬†with its boardwalk through “wild Florida swamp” to Lake Apopka; we also enjoy visiting The Avian Reconditioning Center¬†where Owls, Eagles, and other birds of prey are looked after either to release back to the wild after injury, or permanently kept if they are not well enough to survive in the wild.

This past weekend, ARC visited Oakland and we got to see both at the same time! First a presentation from ARC including a Barred Owl, Swallowtail Kite, Osprey, and Bald Eagle:

 

Later, we took the boardwalk down to Lake Apopka – and spotted six young / small alligators in the swamp either side – very cute!

 

West Orange Trail railroad tracks

The West Orange Trail nearby runs where once were railroad tracks that ran east / west across Florida, as well as further destinations – transporting oranges and people to the north cities, for example, in the late 1800s through to mid 1900s. Here’s a partial map from about 100 years ago (from Wikipedia):

1914_ACL

There must have been two tracks at one time, and they ran right through what is now the center of Winter Garden; here’s a picture from 100 years ago, and Google Street View from today – the two buildings on the right are the same (though they serve different purposes now!):

 

A couple of miles west of this view, there’s a place where one set of railroad tracks must have been abandoned long ago; trees grew up between and eventually over them, so that when the route was converted to a trail, these tracks were left (rather than killing the trees) – I took some photos today:

 

Briley Farm

Our new home is just a short walk or bike ride to the West Orange Trail; heading east takes us into Winter Garden downtown, while west takes us to the next town Oakland (and further eventually out of Orange County, into Lake County and Clermont).

In Oakland close to the Oakland Nature Preserve is Briley Farm, and sometimes it’s possible to spot unusual animals there – here’s some pictures and video from this morning, with Zebra and Wildebeest!