Friday, January 3, 2014

A Mixed Bag of Reminders

Friday January 4, 2014  Cloudy, Windy 62F 16C

A short walk late in the afternoon at Savannas Preserve State Park reminded me of a few things. One, I owe the readers an identification of a nut found on Jensen Beach.  A flower reminded me of a few interesting winter plants you can find in various habitats.

And early in December, just outside the condo property, I saw a bird that is still confusing me.....that, dear reader, is the nature of nature.  It often confuses, and the books don't cover all the variety one can see. A single species may vary far more than one can imagine.

Then, I saw the same bird again today, same area and it reminded me that I need a better camera for long range photos!  Thanks goodness it is coming in a few days.

The bird, by the way, is a hawk.  It has a short tail with bands. it is medium sized, for a North American Hawk.  It has a light belly, a bit of chest bars and a brown mottled pattern on the back. Some candidates: 1. An immature Red-shouldered Hawk with irregular markings  2. A Broad-winged Hawk which ought to be in South America since Mid-November 3. A Short-tailed Hawk, which has been seen locally only once in the past few years. Only 200 pairs are known to be in Florida. Most of these are in the central forested areas from Lake Okeechobee south.  The latter is very unlikely. The first is most likely.  So much for certainty! Hopefully the bird stays around for another week, and I can get a better photo and see it more clearly in my binoculars.

Until then....

some living things I can identify, though it always takes some work!

I found more of these flowers blooming today at Savannas Preserve SP.

This is the Florida Sensitive Flower or Florida Mimosa, mimosa quadrivalvis var. floridana.  This genus, Mimosa, is well known as a cultivated plant due to its unique "sensitivity".  When touched, the leaves close up.  Perhaps a science teacher back in school showed you one, and you were SO impressed!

Ok, I will demonstrate.  A Florida Mimosa before I touched its leaves.

A Florida Mimosa after I touched its leaves. It's magic! Are you able to guess at a competitive advantage provided to the plant?

The nut I found at the beach...

Thanks to Green Deane and the Green Deane Forum for help with this:

The Tropical Almond is a tree used for landscaping in south Florida, and in many other warm coastal places around the world.  It isn't really an almond, but it is an attractive tree that grows in rather intense conditions.  And if you get a chance, do take one of Green Deane's informative as they are entertaining.  Reminder: don't taste or eat anything in the wild without a certain ID from an expert, like Deane.

Another native flower at Savannas Preserve State Park is Prostrate False Buttonweed, Spermacoce prostrate (it is possible this is another Spermacoce species, as the USDA database does not include this species in St. Lucie County).

Extra bonus!  A Bahamian Paper Wasp, Polistes bahamensis.

Sometimes, a real beauty is small and close to the ground , (and in this case, some of the fruits and flowers are IN the ground!):


Roundleaf Bluet or Innocence, Houstonia procumbens 
And, especially for Christmas season, a wild version of the Poinsettia is a native plant of south Florida.  As the holiday season comes to an end, the Painted Leaf or Pineland Spurge, Euphorbia pinetorum  still provides a splash of wild colour.