Florida Nature Studies

Florida Nature Study - with Barb-Harmony Art Mom I love the beach. I enjoy bird watching. And I’ve learned so much about nature studies for our homeschool from Barb-Harmony Art Mom. So what a true gift it was to have each and every one of these things mixed together in one BEECH Retreat trip!

Something deep in all of us yearns for God’s beauty, and we can find it no matter where we are. ~ Sue Monk Kidd

Birds are the Handbook of Nature Study topic for February. How fitting that I would have the awesome privilege of accompanying Barb on a nature study at Captiva Island, Florida. We got into that cute little KIA Optima hybrid and headed to…

FL Nature Studies with Barb-Harmony Art Mom “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge

Say that with a Southern drawl. It’s fun. Barb had researched the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge ahead of time (of course!) and made plans for us to spend some time here amongst the mangroves. First we stopped at the visitor center to see what there was to see. We learned about Ding Darling and the mighty conservationist he was.

raccoon family Captiva Island FL It seemed every few feet we drove or walked we found something unexpected. We were greeted by a family of raccoons. Barb spied them amongst the roots. Babies following their mother. Then scurrying across the road in front of us.

Favorite birds of Ding Darling Refuge FL Barb saw several birds on her life list. We watched one little guy slowly and patiently creep up on his lunch (bottom, right). After doing a little research back at home in the Bird Songs of North America book, the girls and I think he might be an American bittern. We also saw a tricolored heron next to Barb’s favorite roseate spoonbill (top right). Further down the road an anhinga posed for us, perched on a tree (bottom, left).

Bird Songs of North America book We love all the Bird Songs books – especially our favorite Backyard Birdsong Guide for Eastern and Central North America. Not only can you look up a picture of a bird but you can also press a button to hear the bird’s song! My Aunt Mary Ann and grandmother, Mama Ann (both avid birders) gave us this guide for Christmas several years ago. Since then we have picked up as many in the series as we can. I recently saw a few in the bargain section of Barnes & Noble.

Birds of the Ding Darling Refuge This one overlook was a beautiful spot to see birds, as you can tell by the number of birders, cameras and tripods there. The reflection of the sky was lovely! And it was definitely cool and breezy that day.

FL Gator Captiva Island Florida Gator

Next we drove down to another spot in hopes of seeing an alligator. As we started on the path, a family walked by and told us exactly where to go see one. Sure enough, this guy was sunning himself and seemed rather annoyed that we were interrupting his nap with clicks of the camera shutter.

gulf fritillary butterfly captiva island fl And along the same trail as the gator, we saw a couple of beautiful butterflies! Our favorite gulf fritillary (we’ve raised some of those here at Hodgepodge – watched the butterfly cycle –  and had fun with a butterfly chalk pastel.)

Florida manatees at South Seas Island Resort Manatees at South Seas Island Resort

Back at the South Seas Island Resort – right within view of our balcony – there were manatees. Though one did not surface fully, we did see an outline and a sweet little nose break the water. And it made me want to sing the famous Veggie Tale silly song Barbara Manatee  :)

Captiva Island Beach South Seas Island Resort The Captiva Island Beach

My favorite. The beach. Captiva Island and the close by Sanibel Island are known for their abundance of shells. Barb and I saw many shells in the surf on our walks and collected a colorful hand full.

Toes in the sand at South Seas Island Resort Barb and I had the chance to walk the beach and enjoy the sand between our toes a couple of times. BEECH Retreat had us on the beach for a luau and our Friday evening meal at sunset as well! The South Seas Island Resort is the perfect spot for a blogging retreat – and some nature study!

A true friend is the gift of God, and…He only who made hearts can unite them. ~ Robert South

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at BEECH Retreat with Barb-Harmony Art Mom. And I count myself blessed to have experienced first hand some nature study time with her!

OHC button

**Head over for a visit at The Handbook of Nature Study for more from Barb in her post on our Florida adventures. She’s sharing video of the raccoon family!**

Won’t you join us in noticing nature too? So many resources to get you started down the path at Handbook of Nature Study.

More on BEECH Retreat: How to Continue the Blog Conference Learning, KIA Optima Hybrid Review

Hearts and Trees: Art, Handicrafts and Nature Study for your Homeschool

About Hodgepodgemom

Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos homeschooling five children. The biggest lesson she’s learned? At the end of the day – when the dishes are put away and the children are tucked in bed – truly what matters is each child’s relationship with the Lord. Raising children is a God-given privilege and, folks, the time is short.


  1. Loved seeing our time through your eyes and thanks for reminding me about the American bittern! I meant what I said in my post about our time together being the best part of the trip….sweet memories.

    Maybe some day we will get to put our toes together in the sand again.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom recently posted..Weekly Wrap-Up: Continuing and Self-EducationMy Profile

    • Update! My aunt Mary Ann says she thinks that what I’ve labeled the American bittern just might be a young night heron – looks streaky like that. Oh yes, Barb, very sweet memories! Thank you for all your pre-planning. We saw so much!! And I will hope to see you again IRL!

  2. I loved seeing all the amazing sites that you and Barb were able to experience! What an amazing time with such amazing views! My family has been to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel and on a manatee watching cruise but didn’t see nearly the amount of wildlife that you both saw. That mama racoon with babies is priceless.
    Tonya @ The Traveling Praters recently posted..Join me for Team Pretty Muddy in Columbus, OhioMy Profile

    • The raccoon family is my favorite Tonya! I love to think of you and your family being there. And Barb and I must have hit it just right! Truly amazing views and a wonderful amount of wildlife.

  3. Oh, what a treat! Incredible wildlife and lovely companionship. What a blessing!
    All Things Beautiful recently posted..All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter Trees with ConesMy Profile

  4. What an amazing experience! So glad for both of you – My weekend on the West coast was truly amazing. So amazing that we serve such a great and gracious God that gives us the desires of our hearts. Y’all are so cute together!
    Angie Wright recently posted..Santa Cruz Volcom Youth CompetitionMy Profile

  5. I can’t tell you how much I loved this post! I loved everything about it! What a marvelous trip. And to experience it all with a dear friend — such a blessing. BTW, we sing Barbara Manatee around here, too. 😉
    Ellen @ the Bluestocking Belle recently posted..A New Gig: Back to WorkMy Profile

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