Sunday, January 08, 2006

Paynes Prairie Today



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Paynes Prairie was called the the great Alachua Savannah when William Bartram, a botanist, came traipsing through Florida. The Spanish had established a cattle ranch in this area in the 1600's (sorry Texas, Kansas, and any other state that thinks of themselves as cattle country...we did it first). The ranch was called La Chua, hence the name Alachua which is carried by a county and a town in the area. That ranch and the chain of Spanish missions in the area were long gone by the time Billy Bartram went plant collecting here in the 1770's.

He was pretty impressed with the wildlife and scenery and wrote a neat little travel guide. It's a wonderful read. This post is not about Bartram however, it's about this enormous wet prairie just outside the town of Micanopy. (mick-uh-no-pee)

Florida has even more extensive prairie south of Orlando, but Paynes Prairie is pretty respectable. It's part of our state park system and their site says it is 21,000 acres. The prairie sits in a bowl of surrounding high ground. Through time it has alternated between a full fledged lake that supported steamboats and a grassland...although sometimes a pretty wet one.

The photo above and the other posted today were all taken from the side of highway 441...I didn't even get my feet wet. Posted by Picasa

10 comments:

Hick said...

Those pictures are great! I especially like the one with the Coots...nice contrast of colors.

Hey! I've been wondering...As a native Floridian, do you have a regional accent? Somehow I picture you with a slight Cajun twang. Heh! Just kidding...(I was reminded of this question when you gave us a pronunciation guide.)

Rurality said...

Nice series. I'd heard of Micanopy but didn't know how to pronounce it... which syllable is the accent on?

My relatives near Ocala have interesting accents... sound more like Yankees than southerners to me!

The MacBean Gene said...

People don't realize the rich history of north Florida. And everyone knows Micanopy, it's right down the road from Sopchoppy and close to Two Egg.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Great looking prairie. How close is that to where you live? Lots of wildlife there? Looks like a really fun place to explore.

roger said...

okay. now you've done it. florida is officially on the list of places i'd love to see. is it all water or mud out in those expanses? can you walk there?

Floridacracker said...

Hick,
Not much of an accent...I have this theory that coastal cities produce less southern twang than inland areas. I do pronounce "our" as "are" way too often, but unfortunately I don't have a southern drawl, cajun je ne se quois, or Scottish accent.
That last thing is just because I'm a big Sean Connery fan.

Rurality,
Ocala has grown so, there is probably more Yankee speech to emulate. The accent is on the Mick.

Macbean Gene,
Righto! I used to love Sopchoppy, back when the police department was a payphone.

RD,
Paynes is outside of Gainesville, our nearest big city. It's about 45-50 miles. There is a lot of wildlife there. If it had been a summer day, there would have been numerous gators along the roadside.

DPR,
I know there are trails that skirt the perimeter, but I am not sure about restrictions on bushwacking or paddling the marsh.

vicki said...

Well, you went out yesterday and came back in and got busy. This is a fine series of photos. I think I will be driving around Micanopy this next weekend... seriously. I really would like to see these Florida wetlands. Our small lake is 2/3s DNR protected wetlands along the shore and we have incredible Michigan waterfowl (a couple hundred Sandhill Cranes will welcome Old Horsetail when he comes for a visit in April) but I need to know my Florida birds better. I like your Little Blue.

I'll take 67 and sunny- hold it right there until Thursday. Cooler nights are fine. Here's the current weather report for Ann Arbor, MI: 30F, mostly cloudy, 76% humidity, winds 8 mph WNW, and most importantly! the barometric pressure is 30.16 and rising. Have a great day and thanks for your visits and comments!

Floridacracker said...

Vicki,
It's been beautiful lately, I hope it holds for you. Thanks for the weather report,sounds pretty chilly.

Sandhills are thick down here right now.

thingfish23 said...

That was an awesome series, FC.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Thing,
It's not the glades, but it's pretty fantastic.