Florida Travel: A Walk in the Dark at Chinsegut Conservation Center in Brooksville

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

“Once they come out, I advise not to look up with your mouth open,” Gina Long, director of the Chinsegut Conservation Center said, “They’ve been in there all day.”

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Watch for Brazilian Free-tailed Bats at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in Brooksville, Fla.

Get a Little Batty

The “they” she was referring are thousands of Brazilian Free-tailed bats. They live in a handful of bat houses at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) in Brooksville, Fla. Minutes shy of sunset, chirping, and squealing intensified as the nocturnal mammals readied to fly into the night.

Bats are positioned within the house by social hierarchy with the most important in the center and top. Therefore, the lowest ranked hang at the bottom of the house and around the higher ranked bats. This structure protects the most important bats in case a predator enters the house. When the nocturnal mammals head out into the night, the lower ranked ones are pushed down then out first in the event predators, such as hawks, are waiting to prey.

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Because of the Bat Hierarchy, the “Less Important” Bats Descend from the Bat House First, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Brooksville, Fla.

Each house is packed with hundreds of bats. About 10 minutes after sunset, one flew out of a house followed by another then another. Eventually, several at a time dropped then flew in a zigzag pattern into the night.

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Caught the Golden Hour Before it Was Dark at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area, Brooksville, Fla.

A Walk in the Dark

Ms. Long gathered up the small group and led us on about a mile-long hike into the Chinsegut WEA. We walked over a boardwalk to May’s Prairie through cypress trees and wetlands. She carried a paper lantern which provided enough light while the moon provided the rest.

A Barking Treefrog is Spotted During a Nighttime Hike at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area. in Brooksville, Fla.

When a flashlight lit the Chinsegut wilderness, we looked for barking treefrogs, which sound like barking dogs. We also looked for alligator eyes, resting butterflies on branches, and whatever else stirs in the night. As a result, we spotted barking treefrogs, a spadefoot toad, and a butterfly.

Nighttime Isn’t Great for Photography but It’s Perfect for Listening.

See with Your Ears

There was not much to see other than the pathway or when Ms. Long illuminated a specific area, but there was plenty to hear. Insects, bullfrogs, barking treefrogs, and other frogs croaked in the night. This is because it’s mating season for some species. When I listened closely, it sounded as though they were screaming “pick me, pick me” to prospective mates.

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Spadefoot Toad Seen During a Nighttime Hike at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in Brooksville, Fla.

Walking through the night awakens other senses and eyes adjust to the darkness. While walking in the dark, this fantastic experience introduced me to another world. It taught me that although you cannot see something, it still exists and plays an important role in the world.

Chinsegut Conservation Center offers 90-minute night hikes 10 times a year, every month except July and January. Hikes are free, reservations are not required, and most are family-friendly while with some are more appropriate for adults.

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
The Visitor Center at the Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife & Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla.

More than a Walk in the Dark

Chinsegut Wildlife & Environmental Area is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and is a fun place to visit during the day, too. The conservation center covers 408 of the 850 acres of the Chinsegut WEA. It is a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail and a scarlet tanager and a couple of painted buntings were spotted earlier in the day. There is also a butterfly garden, nature trails, and archery target shooting facilities. Animals inhabiting the area include gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer, turkey, sandhill cranes, and bobcats. Because of the abundance of fauna, this is an ideal place for wildlife viewing and photography.

Vintage Car Club Visits Chinsegut Hill Museum, Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
A Vintage Car Club Happened to be Visiting Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum During My Visit, Brooksville, Fla., March 2019.

Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum

The Chinsegut WEA was once part of a large estate owned by Col. Raymond Robins and his wife Margaret. Both were influential in Brooksville and the colonel served as an adviser to seven U.S. presidents. Nearby is Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum, a gorgeous restored Southern home that had its beginning in the mid-1800s. Four families called it home and over the years, including he Robins, and it welcomed dignitaries significant in American history, such as Thomas Alva Edison, Helen Keller, and J.C. Penney. Today, the home is open to tours. Some guides dress in period costume and portray previous residents which brings history to life.

What’s in a Name?

Col. Robins named the area “Chinsegut,” an Alaskan Inuit word meaning “spirit of lost things.” According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission website, he interpreted the meaning as “the place where things of true value that have been lost may be found again.” Without question, Chinsegut in Brooksville is a treasure.

Chinsegut Hill Retreat Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Cottages at Chinsegut Hill Retreat, Steps Away from Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum, Brooksville, Fla.

Unplug in Chinsegut

Chinsegut is near Brooksville and is perfect for a day trip or overnight excursion. Chinsegut Hill Retreat, steps away from the museum, offers lodging. Spacious cottages are perfect for families and the property is ideal for groups planning retreats. A firepit serves as the evening entertainment. The dining area has a kitchen and is perfect for accommodating small groups. After a full day of exploring and it is bedtime, you will forget the cottages do not have televisions.

Chinsegut Conservation Center in Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Caterpillar at the Chinsegut Conservation Center at Chinsegut Wildlife & Environmental Area in Brooksville, Fla.

Brief Video of the Night Hike with Chinsegut Conservation Center

Nuts & Bolts About Visiting

Chinsegut Conservation Center
Chinsegut Wildlife & Environmental Area
23212 Lake Lindsey Rd.
Brooksville, Fla. 34601
Tel: (352) 754-6722
myfwc.com/education/outdoor-skills/chinsegut
Open Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. and other times for scheduled programs or by appointment.

If attending a guided hike, wear closed-toed and comfortable shoes and bring insect repellent, water, and sense of adventure.

Chinsegut Hill Museum, Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Some of the Artifacts in Chinsegut Hill Museum, Brooksville, Fla.

Chinsegut Hill Museum
22495 Chinsegut Hill Rd.
Brooksville, Fla. 34601
Tel: (352) 799-5400
www.chinseguthillmuseum.com
Museum Tour Hours
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays: 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Also by appointment.
Tours: $5 per person
Children under 10 are free.

Lake Lindsey Mall & Deli, Lake Lindsey, Fla., March 2019
Grab Lunch at the Lake Lindsey Mall & Deli in Lake Lindsey, Fla. It’s Even Biker-Friendly.

Where to Eat
Lake Lindsey Mall & Deli
14351 Snow Memorial Hwy.
Lake Lindsey, Fla. 34601
Tel: (352) 540-9955
www.facebook.com/LakeLindseyMallAndDeli
Mondays – Fridays 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturdays – 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sundays – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Nothing fancy but good food and people. Try the Cuban sandwich and grab a bowl of boiled peanuts to go. It’s biker-friendly, too.

Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards, Brooksville, Fla, March 2019
Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards, Brooksville, Fla.

Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards
21509 Snow Hill Road
Brooksville, Fla. 34601
Tel: (352) 650-8466
www.sparaciawitherellfamilywinery.com
Wednesdays and Thursdays and Sundays Noon – 6 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays Noon – 10 p.m.
A winery on a muscadine grape vineyard. Enjoy a wine tasting or visiting during a Friday or Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon for musical entertainment and food trucks.

Chinsegut Hill Museum, Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Chinsegut Hill Retreat is Steps Away from Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum, Which Has this Wonderful Swing.

Where to Stay
Chinsegut Hill Retreat
22495 Chinsegut Hill Rd.
Brooksville, Fla. 34601
Tel: (352) 799-5400
chinseguthillretreat.com

Vintage Car Club Visits Chinsegut Hill Museum, Brooksville, Fla., March 2019
Hood Ornament on a Vintage Car that Visited the Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum in Brooksville, Fla., March 2019

Additional Information on Things to do in the Brooksville Area

Florida’s Adventure Coast floridasadventurecoast.com
Nature Coaster www.naturecoaster.com

View Additional Images of Chinsegut Hill Mansion Museum, Chinsegut Conservation Center, and Surrounding Areas on Flickr

Chinsegut Hill Bloggers Retreat in Brooksville, Fla, March 2019.
Advertisements

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.