Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stump Pass - 10.08.12 - Post 5

Today I have a heron.  It's a Great Blue Heron.  They come up north in the summer, but even then are pretty rare.

Here's one standing on a sign in the bay.

But this is the shot I really like.  He's up in his nest.
Really, really UP in his nest!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stump Pass - 10.08.12 - Post 4

It's Gopher Tortoise Day!  Actually, even cooler than that, it's baby Gopher Tortoise Day!

So this is a baby Gopher Tortoise.  You can tell by how small he looks even next to some blades of grass, but also by the amount of yellow in his shell.

Here you can see him against leaves and sticks in his habitat.  He's very wee!

You can see the sand on his back.  I've never seen the phrase "obligate burrower" before I started looking these guys up.  I know "obligate carnivore" from owning ferrets, but I've never seen "obligate burrowers".  But it's a good thing they are so driven to make their own holes.  Scientists have documented over 360 different species - everything from snakes to owls to armadillos will occupy an abandoned gopher tortoise burrow.

Here's a more grown up guy.  Actually, probably a grown up girl.  Though not a perfect science, most of the boys have a bony protrusion under their chin, jutting out from their shell.  Females don't have that and I don't see it on this one.

She does look like she's doing her tortoise best to say cheese for the camera.  Those are some bizarre teeth!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stump Pass - 10.08.12 - Post 3

A couple of warm beach pictures from me today as I prepare to head back from the um... not-very-warm 'south' (Tennessee) to the actually frozen (6 degrees F!) Chicago tonight.

This struck me as some sort of beach art left for the next people who wandered through.  It's clearly not 'accidental' and I can't think of a reason animals would construct something like this.  So... it's just nifty beach art!

These trees break my brain. They're obviously dead now, but they were clearly once hugely thriving trees.  In the sand.  At the water's edge.  How does a tree grow like that in the salt water of the gulf?  In the sand instead of soil of a beach?  If you look closely you can see that they're now clearly woodpecker condominiums.  Didn't see any of those inhabitants that day, but there's still something striking about the dead tree, the sand, the water and the cloudy sky that looks warm to me.

More critters tomorrow, but I needed something warm today to brace me as I head into the cold Chicago winter night!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stump Pass - 10.08.12 - Post 2

Just a quick post, because I find that these things growing in Florida amuses me...

We're brought up to believe that certain groups of plants and animals belong in certain climates.  That if you try to transplant these flora or fauna to a whole different biome that it won't work.

So cacti belong in deserts. Right?  They only grow in warm areas with very low amounts of precipitation.

Yet these guys were thriving on the key.  And Florida gets significant rainfalls *most* days.  There are these two or three-o'clock showers that come with the warming of the day very frequently.

And yet..

Prickly Pear Cactus (064 - 2012)

And just for fun... some of those amazing clouds that bring in those afternoon showers.  They start as whispy little things around dawn and build as the day goes on and more and more moisture is evaporated off the gulf (and whatever other bodies of water are around) until they get so heavy that you get about an hour of rain each afternoon during the rainy season.  And yet, the cacti seem to do just find in this environment.

Stump Pass - 10.08.12 - Post 1

So this is my New Year's Resolution... again.  I want to post every single day.  At least one picture.

I'm still wrapping up a lot of 2012 photos at this point, but that will change soon enough. :)

On my trip to Florida in October, we had a day with no major plans, so I suggested hitting one of the local beaches/parks.  It's a place called Stump Pass and it's on Manisota Key near Englewood Florida.  It's one of a million such little places in Florida and not particularly known for anything special.

But this is where I had that amazing dolphin pod siting that led to this brief post right when I got back from it.

The small park that we wandered through to get to the end of the key (where we saw the dolphins) contained a fair share of really awesome sightings as well.

Here are the two nifty butterflies I saw that I won't be seeing up in the land of ice and snow (otherwise known as Chicago.)

Mangrove Skipper  (2012 - 62)
This one is a Mangrove Skipper.  It doesn't look like the skippers I'm used to seeing in Chicago.

 I was afraid for a long time that I was going to have to try to identify this guy from his underside, but eventually I found one right-side-up. :)

This guy is a member of the same family as the Monarchs and Queens that we get so many of up north. He's a Gulf Fritillary.

Gulf Fritillary (063 - 2012)
He's most identified by the three white dots on his forewings with the black circles around them.

So it's only two, but two I won't get home!