Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Some Ends and Odds

Tuesday January 28, 2013  Sunny, 27C

Pete Seeger: We lost a great performer and principled man today.  This one is for you.

 This was the PERFECT day to lock myself out of my condo.

Since I also left my car keys in the condo, I couldn't drive. NO problem!  I had one of my moments of heightened anxiety, and decided to walk it off through this neighbourhood.  With storm water storage ponds, local canals and the Mariposa Cane Slough Preserve, there is quite a variety of habitat for wildlife.  Twenty-four species of birds made themselves known in the two hours.  Turtles, butterflies, dragonflies...even fish, lizards and the local alligator made an appearance.

At the end, I visited my neighbor Izzy, who is originally form Mississippi, who told me his brother had told him that it was snowing in his home town (near Jackson), and the afternoon temperature was hovering around 25F.  People along the Gulf of Mexico rarely see such temperatures and snow, and they aren't prepared for it.  Izzy didn't have a copy of my key, but he shared a beer with me, and we had a good talk until my other neighbor, Debby, came home from work and let me into the condo.

So much for Art's Culture.

There were 47 Glossy Ibis in the local canal. I hadn't seen one for weeks!

They are much rarer than the White Ibis, also seen on my walk.

For those hoping for Spring in Eastern North America, I heard several Mockingbirds jubilantly declaring their territories, and at the entrance to this condo, several hundred Robins  cavorted, many in full spring song.

In keeping with the climate-weather theme......you may recall that on Thursday January 9th we had quite the rainfall in the late afternoon and evening. Reports from the local airport were that 9-12 inches of rain fell in 7 hours, creating local flash flooding, and closing roads.  The evidence of that storm is still with us. Trails that normally dry up during the winter are still covered with water, especially in Savannas Preserve State Park.

In a visit this Saturday at that Park, I talked to staff who told me their two rain gauges measured 16.5 inches of rain.  Considering that summer/fall hurricanes and tropical storms typically drop 9-12 inches of rain when they hit the Florida coasts, this event in January was a record deluge.  Since the 1000 acre marsh in Savannas Preserve depends exclusively on rainwater, the good news is that the marsh and all of its special biota will thrive due to this rainfall.

Yesterday, Monday January 27th, I visited D J Wilcox Preserve on the Indian River Lagoon.  Once again, Tony was fishing the pier there. I didn't bring him luck this time.  We did see lots of wildlife.....what Tony referred to as Marlon Perkins moments.  Well said Tony.  Aside from Pelicans fishing, Mullett constantly leaping; we also saw a pair of dolphins feasting, a Roseate Spoonbill, Sandwich Terns, a Great Black-backed Gull and a large Ray feeding in the shallows.  Another large predator was also in the shallows but it was too far off to see....likely a Black tipped or Bull Shark.

Tony's friend Charlie was on the pier with us hoping for some of the Finger Mullett used for bait.

Alas, none was left as you can see from his sad expression:

Tony left, as did Charlie, and I went up the trail.  There were the 17 Least Sandpipers feeding under the Mangroves.  They have been here longer than me.  These Arctic nesting birds never see snow! They do score an 8 on my cuteness scale as they skim the tidal shore for crustaceans.

Then I saw this Horseshoe Crab shell on the shore.
And I was being observed

when I spotted this animal not far from the Horseshoe Crab shell. Can you see it?
How about now?

Sometimes you have to look very closely to see a creature:

I ended  my walk, after unsuccessfully attempting to capture a photo of a flying Sandwich Tern with a much more cooperative bird, a Tri-Coloured Heron:

 May your nightly dreams have the colour and diversity nature offers.