Sunday, June 5, 2016

Orchids along the Myakka

 Butterfly Orchids (Encyclia tampensis) in full bloom in early June along the Myakka River.



Great place to see and photograph these dainty orchids is the trail along the river in Sleeping Turtles Preserve.




 Almost every oak has orchids....it's hard to decide whether to look up at them...or down at the scenic Myakka River


 Wild and Scenic....an official designation, but quite obvious to any observer.




 Some different colors....pink, yellow.  Are they different species I wonder?



 Early rains and everything looks great.



Another great spot is Myakka River State Park.






 Lots of wild orchids in Florida.




















 Olivia with her "I see orchids"  happy face!



 Sleeping Turtles is a great place any time of the year.  Check it out and take a walk.





Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sherman's Fox Squirrel

Sherman's Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani).  Seen at Babcock-Webb WMA.  This curious squirrel calmly watched my wife and I filming a nearby family of Red-cockaded woodpeckers.
 
A species of special concern, below are some links to report sightings to the Florida FWC, taken from their Facebook page.
 
Bigger than your average squirrel!
Fox squirrels can be easier to spot than many of Florida’s imperiled species. Look for their fat, furry tails and bigger body size than the common gray squirrel. They also sport an amazing range of colors from tawny to silver to black. Some have black masks or are entirely black. Fox squirrels also are unusual because an individual animal often can be identified by its particular markings. The Sherman’s fox squirrel, state-listed as a Species of Special Concern, is found in much of Florida. The more elusive Big Cypress fox squirrel, a threatened species, lives only in southwest Florida. The state’s two other subspecies, the southeastern fox squirrel and Bachman’s fox squirrel, reside in northwest Florida. Want to help? Report sightings of fox squirrels online! This helps us identify their ranges and better manage their habitats. Click on the photos to find out more!
Report your fox squirrel sightings: https://public.myfwc.com/HSC/FoxSquirrel/GetLatLong.aspx
Read pages 40-41 of the FWC’s draft Imperiled Species Management Plan to learn more about our plan to conserve fox squirrels: http://myfwc.com/media/2996415/Draft-ISMP-February-2015.pdf
Species action plan for the Big Cypress fox squirrel: http://myfwc.com/…/Big-Cypress-Fox-Squirrel-Species-Action-…
Species action plan for the Sherman’s Fox squirrel: http://myfwc.com/…/Shermans-Fox-Squirrel-Species-Action-Pla…
More photos: https://www.flickr.com/…/8628047489/in/set-72157632659454856
‪#‎Squirrel‬ ‪#‎Wildlife‬ ‪#‎Threatened‬ ‪#‎FoxSquirrel‬ ‪#‎Cute

Here's a link to a post I did on a Big Cypress Fox Squirrel at Clyde Butcher's cottage in Ochopee.
 


  Keep a sharp eye in the trees when you are out and about....and be sure to report sightings to the FWC.




Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Red- Cockaded Woodpecker

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) is an endangered habitat specialist of our southern long-leaf pine forests.
Living in family groups, it bores nest and roost holes in older (80-100 years) long-leaf and slash pine trees in forest which burns frequently enough to have a low understory and few hardwoods.
 
 
 
 

Though logging and development has eliminated much of America's pine forests, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is doing better thanks to an aggressive recovery program by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and here in Florida by the State FWC.


 


We are fortunate here in Punta Gorda to have a breeding group at the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area.



The birds excavate multiple holes in their family territory....using one for nesting and others for roosts.  The young are fed by both the parents and "aunt and uncle" family members.  The chicks fledge in less than a month.





Ants, beetles,  roaches, termites, centipedes and other arthropods are the favored diet.   Family groups forage together by flaking off bark from pine trunks and branches.....the males prefer the upper branches and trunk...the females the lower.

 


Wife, Olivia, looking for birds in typical habitat....older pines with low understory....here well maintained through controlled burning at the Babcock-Webb WMA.  Preserving habitat is key for this and many other species.



Non-migratory and maintaining a territory of up to 60 acres with multiple tree cavities, the birds peck small holes in the bark of nesting trees.  These exude sticky pine pitch which is a defense against yellow rat snakes and other predators.



These birds and "The Webb" are a treasure here in SW Florida.  Thanks to the US and Florida Fish and Wildlife services for all they have done for their recovery.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Leafless Beaked Ladies' Tresses

 Wild orchids on I-75!  Leafless Beaked Ladies' Tresses
(Sacoila lanceolata).  Also called Scarlet Ladies' Tresses.


 Large group of these showy terrestrial orchids seen in late May along the roadside of I-75, just south of Punta Gorda.
The above group photographed off exit 161.
 
 
 



Seen just by chance on the way to Babcock-Webb WMA.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Boca Birding

Learning of a shore bird nesting colony on Gasparilla Island State Park's middle beach....and wanting to try out Liv's new Nikon Coolpix P900....we headed to the beach.  Above is the view looking north.....not too crowded today!



Lots of barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico....Gasparilla is a favorite.





And here is the view looking south!








Protecting shore bird nesting sites is important.  Birds can easily be disturbed.  This one was taped off and well marked.  There are still natural predators....raccoons, gulls, iguanas.  But keeping people and especially loose dogs away really helps.



Not many birds today....what looked like Skimmers were actually decoys...to attract the birds to a safe colony.


Great idea...hope it works!



We did see a few Least Terns (Sternulla antillarum).




And some more birds...

 Black-bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola).   I think this is  a pair....but we are right between seasons, so it may just be breeding and nonbreeding plumage!  Below pic is from Sibley's.
 
 
 
 
 


Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias).  Commonly seen in SW Florida, but always appreciated.
 
 


Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).  Back from the brink of extinction, after being hunted for it's plumage!
 
 
 
 
 


Magnificent Frigatebirds (Fregeta magnificens).
 
 
 


Snowy Plover (Charadrius rivosus).  Looks like an adult in breeding plumage.
 
 


Osprey (Pandion halieatus).  Best fisherman ever!
 
 


Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla).  Non-breeding and breeding plumage....L to R.
 
 


Black Iguana (Ctenosaura similis).  No...not a bird, but an invasive reptile.  Very much a predator of nesting bird colonies.  Much effort has been expended to remove them from the island....but they remain.  STOP THE EXOTIC PET TRADE!
 
 


We weren't the only photogs out and about.  Here is local pro, Dave Eppley, shooting the Tarpon Tournament.  Link below to see some of Dave's incredible images.

Dave Eppley on 500px





Bobbing around the pass in a big group doesn't seem like much fun or much sport to me.  How about some fly casting from a flats boat!
 
 


Can not resist another shot of the Boca Grande Lighthouse.
 

Great Southern White butterflies (Ascia monuste) are supposed to predict early summer weather and good tarpon fishing.  Check out this article in Waterline Magazine....my favorite!
 
 
 
Now for some photos around town.  We took a walk....somewhere between exercise and photo stroll and this is what we saw....
 
 

Sea Oats 


A flock of Ibis groundskeepers on the Gasparilla Inn Golf Course.


No that's not Maui....


Banyan St.



 
 
Lots in bloom around town....let's see what the P900 does with these colors!







 
 
 




Ginger blossoms!


Back to the beach....getting crowded...


What a nice day...birding, picnic, stroll...and some beach time!



The armamentarium....P900, S6300, D3300....see if you can guess which one shot which photo!


Always time to relax at Boca Grande!  See you again next time.