Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Endangered species found only in Florida from the Panhandle down to the Northern Everglades. Habitat is Pine Scrub, Sandhills, and lately suburban developments. Inquisitive and easily tamed. Feeds on Live Oak acrorns and store bought peanuts!
Located at the south end of Manasota Key, this Florida State Park has an unspoiled beach on the Gulf of Mexico, a pass into Lemon Bay and a long mangrove lined channel perfect for kayaking. A three mile hike throught the barrier island habitat reveals much interesting flora and fauna. These photos were taken in December after a hard frost, so much of the plant life was dormant.
The channel into Lemon Bay...."Ski Alley" to the locals....lots of small mangrove islands for kayakers.
Sea Grapes (Coccoloba uvifera). In season you can eat the grapes or make some jam.
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) and stump of Australian Pine (Casuarina equisetifolia). These trees were eradicated by the park service as invasive species...originally planted to provide shade for cattle...now are popular roosts for ospreys, owls and nesting spots for other birds.
Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata).
Great Blue Heron (Adrea herodias).
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres).
Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus).
Brown Pelican (Pelicanus occidentalis).
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).
Currently they are dredging Stump Pass at the south end of the park....so things are a bit of a mess. Try a trip here in the spring!
Recent trip to Big Cypress Preserve....cool December weather brings out all the big gators to bask in the sun and wonderful colors of the sawgrass and cypress trees in winter.
The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), grows to over 12 feet long is usually docile but extremely fast moving and dangerous if surprized, disturbed, or even approached to closely. Habitiats include ponds, swamps, rivers, marshes. They prefer fresh water, but are occasionally seen in mangroves or the Gulf of Mexico. They all seem bigger than my kayak!