florida, nature, landscape, birding

There are times when I’m driving along, and I catch sight of the signature brown and white sign indicating a Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail site just up ahead. More often than not, I pull in to check it out (I always keep a pair of binoculars in the car!). That is exactly how my husband and I came to stop in at the Garcon Point WMA: Garcon Point Trail.

florida, nature, landscape, birding

Beautiful habitat at Garcon Point Trail

A rain shower had recently passed across the Florida Panhandle, leaving bright water droplets on the pine needles and grasses on both sides of the 1.7 loop trail at Garcon Point’s south entrance. The path was narrow, and our bare legs were brushed by vegetation on both sides (leaving ample opportunities for ticks to leap to our limbs). Just a few yards into the walk I heard the signature call of an Eastern Towhee, and spotted Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, and Carolina Chickadees.

florida, nature, landscape, birding

Beautiful flower along the the trail.

Though I had come for the birds, I remained enthralled by the wildflowers throughout the loop trail. The petals came in all colors: pinks, golds, reds, and white. The four cornered flowers of rare pitcher plants were clearly visible in the green and yellow wetland grasses. Longleaf pines broke the wiregrass landscape, their recently burned trunks dark against the surrounding vegetation (this habitat must be burned to revitalize itself). One pale hibiscus had a deep crimson center, like an artist had poured her ink between the petals.

Exploring a wet prairie, identifying birds, and spotting beautiful wildflowers: sounds like an excellent nature loop if you ask me!


Written by Erika Zambello
Erika Zambello is a National Geographic Young Explorer who grew up in Maine, inspiring a deep interest in nature at an early age. She fell in love with birding after receiving a Sibley field guide for Christmas during her senior year in college, and has birded across the eastern seaboard and internationally ever since. To inspire others to protect birds and the environment, she has blogged for the Conservation Fund, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Triangle Land Conservancy, and Duke University, and is writing a birding guide to Northern New England for Wilderness Adventures Press. She has founded OneWorldTwoFeet.com, and is currently living along the Emerald Coast in Florida's Panhandle. You can check out her exploration site or follow her on Instragram.