Friday, October 26, 2018

Florida Chicken Turtle?

  Chicken Turtle?  Yes, and not one, but three species of Chicken Turtles!
Above is a Florida Chicken Turtle
(Deirochelys reticularia chrysea)
The other two species are:
Eastern Chicken Turtle 
(Deirochelys reticularia reticularia
Western Chicken Turtle
(Deirochelys reticularia miarai)

On a "butterfly walk" at the Babcock/Webb WMA in Punta Gorda, Florida.  This Florida Chicken Turtle was quickly identified by Dr Bill, Phd turtle expert.  Above Rachel, Jane and Bill move in for a good photo.

The Florida Chicken Turtle is a medium sized, fresh water, basking turtle.  It's name?  Some say due to it's long neck, other say it was a popular dish for early settlers and did indeed taste like chicken.
Sadly they are sold in the exotic pet trade and specimens have been found as far away as Hawaii!

Wonderful image from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Chicken Turtles are mid-sized turtles with shells that are egg-shaped. These reptiles can get 6-9 inches long. Scute pattern on the carapace is 12/12 marginals, 4/4 vertebral and 5 vertebrae. The plastron is hingeless and is 88-91 % of the carapace length. It is yellow and may have a faded dark blotch on the posterior half. The skin is black with distinctive thin yellow stripes on the back legs and neck. The front of each foreleg has a broad yellow stripe. Furthermore, the neck when extended may be as long as the carapace.

Here is the zoologist who name the Chicken Turtle, the binomial name that is!  LaTreille was a prolific naturalist and named many more species and is celebrated as "The Father of Entomology."

Found the following passage in the above tome...
"...le long cou a le gout du poulet."

And which wine should I choose to go with a bowl of 
turtle stew?

Why one with an appropriate label, of course!
Yes, we also saw lots of butterflies.
bon appetite!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Arcadian Honey Hole

Late summer day visit to "secret spot" of friends Jean and Bill.  They said we would find some butterflies....and WOW, did we ever.  It was a HONEY HOLE!

                                                                     Zebra Swallowtail

                                                                       Visit Arcadia
This is the only hint I will give on it's location.


Here is what attracted so many butterflies....a stand of over 100 Chapman's Blazing Star (Liatris chapmanii) growing in a very scrubby opening in the woods near a farm lane.  

Jump to

Liatris chapmanii
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Liatris
Species: L. chapmanii
Binomial name
Liatris chapmanii
Torrey &

What a rare opportunity to a scrubby open area off of a farm road in very rural Arcadia.  We could not believe all the butterflies nectaring there.  There were dozens of Zebra and Pipevine Swallowtails.

Where there are butterflies one can expect to also see Damsels and Dragons!  Above is a Black Dancer (I think) (Argia fumipennis atra).
And below an Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera).

Thanks Jean and Bill for sharing this secret Honey Hole....we really enjoyed it!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pine Hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii)

  Myakka State Forest in Englewood, FL.  Out on a recon for a future Peace River Butterfly Society field trip in March....looking for likely spots to find thistles in bloom.  Christmas day and a lovely afternoon hike on the Palmetto and River trails for a beautiful river view at the back country campsite.
On the way back spotted a group of Pine Hyacinth plants in full bloom....unusual in late December?

Clematis baldwinii, named after William Baldwin.

8593 acres of mesic flatwoods...slash and longleaf pine overstory with saw palmetto understory.

Be a citizen scientist and report what you see on iNaturalist!

Easy to find this stand of over a dozen plants....20 meters down the Palmetto trail from the parking lot on East River Road.

Great field guide for Florida's wildflowers.

Thanks to the Florida Forest Service for allowing hiking, hunting, horseback riding, wilderness camping, picnicking.  So much of nature to see so close to suburbia.

Roger Hammer will be PRBS's guest speaker in February....and in March State Forester, Eric Stricland will speak at the meeting prior to our field outing.

Lots to see out there...bring a camera!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life and death in a palm tree!

While birding at Ollie's Pond in Port Charlotte (FL) we saw a juvenile Roof Rat (Rattus rattus) jump out of a shorefront Cabbage Palm and swim away!  Very unusual hardly ever sees rats in the wild, let alone one swimming!

Depicted below, by the Univ of Florida Extension Service as a horrible beast, these rodents are harmless in the wild and part of the ecosystem fauna.

AHA!  We soon found the cause of the rat's panicked escape!  A Yellow Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) climbing the palm and looking for a meal.

Higher in the palm, we spotted a large rat....perhaps a parent to the swimmer.  Looking a bit too large for the snake, it seemed to exhibit a fearful expression and held it's ground.....maybe to protect other young in the nest.

Nature's small drama is life or death for the young rats....or starvation for the snake.   Let us just observe and not judge or intrude.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Peeps return to Caspersen Beach

Out to look for shorebirds in late November.   Found some resting in the rocks at Caspersen Beach in Venice (FL).
Above is a nice Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) in non-breeding plumage.

       What do you suppose these little birds are?  Sanderlings....Western Sandpipers?  I am rarely sure with peeps!

So get the photo on the computer and get out the books!

Oiseaux de rivage!

Well....I'm going out on a limb....Sanderling (Calidris alba).

Sanderling link

You can always flip a coin if unsure!  This one says, "sandpiper!"  But I'm sticking with Sanderling easy one!  Ruddy Turnstone  (Arenaria interpres).

Feel free gentle readers to correct me on any and all "peeps."  Always learning on the beach.