Thursday, November 16, 2017

Peace River Butterfly Society Outing

Peace River Butterfly Association at Babcock-Webb WMA in Punta Gorda.  We forgot about hunting season which was in full swing at the WMA....so limited our outing to the marl ponds near Lake Webb and the camping area.  Not so many butterflies....but plenty of dragon flies and some interesting birds.






















































Wednesday, November 8, 2017

40 species and 5 Avocets at Ding Darling NWR!

Saw on Facebook a report of American Avocets (Recurvirostra Americana) at Ding Darling NWR.  Though not really a rara avis they are an unusual winter sighting here in SW Florida, so we thought it worth braving the congested Ft Myers traffic with the hope of spotting some.  We were not disappointed and had a great birding day at the refuge.




The refuge is located on Sanibel Island, near Ft Myers and is 5200 acres of migratory bird paradise.

Ding Darling NWR Wiki link


The refuge is named after J Norwood Darling, conservationist and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist.  "Ding" also designed the first Federal Duck Stamp in 1935.  The refuge visitor center has a wonderful diorama about Ding and a Duck Stamp Exhibit.








40 species is a great birding day, plus a super view of 5 very cooperative Avocets.  Here are some of the birds we saw.
American White Pelicans (Pelicanus erythrorhynchos).











Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens).

Reddish Egret link


Lots of "peeps."  Willets (Tringa semipalmata), Dowitchers (probably Short Billed ((Limnodromus griseus)) ), and a few Dunlins (Calidris alpine).

Field identification of Dowitchers


Lots of mangrove forest at the refuge....with some birds to see.


Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea).




White Ibis (Eudocimis allbus).




Another great feature of the refuge!  Volunteer roving interpreters who show visitors where to see birds.  Here is Paul McKenny who is a talented photographer and knowledgeable birder.  It was a pleasure to meet Paul who shared some photography tips and birding lore.





Tricolor Heron  (Egretta tricolor).








Avocets, Willets, Dowitchers, Reddish Egret, Dunlin....and maybe a Western Sandpiper!  WOW....what a sight.


Hey...don't forget me!  Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).







All five Avocets and friends....just what we came to see.



A 40 species day for my wife's Birder Journal!  Thanks Ding Darling NWR.









Lots to learn about birding, mangroves, ecology and life from new friend and roving interpreter, Iver Brook  (retired Marine Ecologist, WWII B-17 crewman, birder and super representative of the refuge).  Be sure to plan a visit and look for Paul and Iver...you will have a great day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monk Orchid

Not uncommon, but new to me, is this ground orchid.  Oeceoclades  maculata, common names include Monk Orchid, African Spotted Orchid.


                                                          Univ of Florida link: Monk Orchid


Here seen with seed pod.  Although not truly a native of South Florida....it's origin is in Africa, but here from Puerto Rico where it is well established.



Spotted leaves and "pseudo bulbs."





This little gem can also be epiphytic....so keep a sharp eye out...on the ground or above!



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beautiful Paw Paw


On a recent plant walk at the Babcock/Webb WMA (Punta Gorda, Florida) with the Florida Native Plant Society....one of the group and fellow nature blogger, Thomas Zinneman, showed us a photo of a very rare and endangered wild flower which he found in our subdivision (we are neighbors).  It was a Beautiful Paw Paw (Deeringothamnus pulchellus).  We had never seen one but were quite interested....and wife Olivia recalled seeing something similar on a recent walk in our neighborhood.  Sure enough....it was not only one Beautiful Paw Paw....but a cluster of five!  Remarkable.








Plan to get your feet wet when you explore with the Florida Native Plant Society!  Here is a link to Thomas Zinnerman's fantastic blog.



This plant is critically endangered and rarely seen.  It has lost much of it's habitat to development...so it was a surprise to find it in our subdivision.  The PDF below has lots of info about the recovery plan which included reintroducing the Beautiful Paw Paw onto Pine Island some 20+ years ago.  I believe these recent finds are the only reported north of the Peace River.



Interested to see this rare plant?  They are on Quito Dr, in Section 20 of the Deep Creek subdivision.  Below is a map and GPS coordinates.



Lat  27 1/' 11.8" N
Lon  82 1/' 25.2" W





We thought to "rescue" this plant....but our research told us that is has an extensive root system, needs very special soil conditions, and also needs fire or mowing to avoid competition from taller plants.  This cluster is on a vacant lot which gets mowed four times a year....so we will just watch the plant cluster.






Thanks to Thomas for sharing his find...and to wife, Olivia who has a sharp eye for wild flowers.