Sunday, October 6, 2013

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Stopped by to visit this park on the way to see Ana in Gainesville yesterday.  It is unique because there are herds of wild horses and American Bison there.  You can read more on the park and livestock at and .   I have been there a half dozen times and have never seen the bison.  They have been on my bucket list to photograph.  I got there around 7 AM and proceeded to walk out on the dike road to see what was there.  The dike trail is 4 miles out and I went the entire way.

First thing I saw in the fog was a coyote off in the distance, no good photos.  Next were some of the wild horses.

After the horses came a couple of deer.  No good photos although this buck was impressive for a Florida deer.

Then came the wild hogs.

Then about 3 miles  out came the lone young bison.  It was on the berm road that isn't much more than 20 ft wide.  It came right to me and walked by, maybe 6 ft from me.  I was a little worried because there was nothing but water on either side of the berm.  You certainly wouldn't want to be this close to a Yellowstone bison.  It was about the size of an Angus cow.  I was talking loudly and waving my arms around when it got close, just to make sure it didn't get surprised by my presence.

After that came butterflies, dragonflies and birds.  The migration is on, so lots of warblers and small birds with the hawks chasing after them.

Red-shouldered Hawks

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Also saw a couple of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks.  This is significant because I had never heard of them north of Orlando.  Here is the proof.


On the return trip around the 2.5 mile mark, a herd of bison.  They were blocking the trail home, but raced off when they realized that I was there.

Then more wild hogs.

And more wild horses.

And I finish up with a Florida Cottonmouth near the bathrooms.