Monday, February 25, 2013

Florida Mottled Duck

The Florida Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula fulvigula) is a medium sized dabbling duck, closely related to the Mallard and American Black Duck.  This is a subspecies of two distinct populations of Mottled Ducks, the other being A. fulvigula maculosa found along the Gulf of Mexico between Alabama and Tamaulipas (Mexico).
The Florida Duck is non-migratory and found mainly south of Tampa.  Both sexes appear similar, with the male having a more distinctly yellow bill.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Yellow Rat Snake at Fakahatchee Strand

This Yellow Rat Snake (Paantheropis obsoleta quadrivittata) was spotted along a trail in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.  This is an arboreal species, usually found high up in Cypress trees.

 Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is a unique linear swamp forest...some 20 miles long and 5 miles wide.  Located on the western edge of Big Cypress Preserve, it is part of the Western Everglades region of Southern Florida.

Below is a trail map of the park.  Visiting L.A. photographer (and son) Andy J Scott and I hiked up the East Main Trail to the old ranger's cabin.  Here's a link to the Friends of Fakahatchee Strand website.  Be sure to watch the video of all the wildlife spotted in the preserve.

The trail is an old road with swamp on both sides.....we hiked in January so it was dry.... most of the year it is under water.

Most of the alligators are in deep "gator holes" this time of year, but some still prowl the swamp.

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), known locally as
Chockoloskee Chicken, are a common Floridian wading bird.  They were hunted for food by early settlers and glades hermits.

Being favored habitat of Florida's State Butterfly, the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius), we saw quite a few along the trail's edge.

L.A. photographer switching his camera "scene dial" from urban to nature!

January is not the season for orchid blooms, but we did see this beautiful Swamp Lily...a beautiful invasive.

I felt very lucky to spot this rather tattered
Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus).

Didn't see any panthers on the trail, but thought we were on the set of "Deliverance" when we got to the old ranger's cabin!

Nice little gator hole behing the cabin.  Lots of small gators and turtles.

I love the plaque on the old cabin!

On the way back down the trail we saw some blooming Bromeliads. 

Quill-Leaf (Tillandsia fasciculata).  Related to Pineapples and usually found growing on cypress and pine trees.

Bell-weather of the Glades, the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

A triple bloom Quill-leaf!  I'll be back later this year to look for blossoming orchids.  Here's a link to a great video about Fakahatchee Strand's Ghost Orchids.

After our hike we headed down the road to the Big Cypress HQ to look for some big gators.  We were not disappointed!

Such remarkable and ancient creatures....almost hunted to thriving in South Florida.

The viewing boardwalks in Big Cypress are great for gator and turtle watching.  Above is a Cooter....I believe it's a
Pond Cooter (Pseudomys floridana).

Florida Softshelled Turtle (Apalone ferox).

These big boys love to "tomando el sol!"  One and all, they were bigger than my 12 foot kayak!

Shadows grow long....time to head home and reflect on another wonderful day, "Swampin'" in the glades.

Lots to see and do in wild Florida.  Come visit...and keep your eyes open!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pelican Portrait plus

 Daughter Chrissy home for a visit took some nice photos round about SW Florida.  The portrait of a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is my favorite.

 Here's a Cooter Turtle basking in the sun along a small creek along the Myakka River near Sarasota.  Cooters are confusing to ID, but I think this one is an Eastern River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna).

 I believe this to be a Common Baskettail Dragonfly (Epitheca cynesura),  but will stand corrected for any expert advice!

 Chrissy "shot" this fast moving little warbler in Myakka River State Park.  I believe it's a Palm Warbler (Dendronica palmarum).

 American Alligators (Alligator missippienensis) basking along the Myakka River, Sarasota, Florida.

It was wonderful to have Chrissy visit, and for us to get out and enjoy the natural world here in SW Florida.