Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Friday, January 30, 2009

Skywatch Friday: Ever. Glades.

Woohoo, I'm in Florida. It was sunny and warm out, at least for part of the day. Leon and I got into Miami in the wee hours this morning. We've spent the whole day at the Everglades. First stop: Mahogany Hammock. Hardwood hammocks are beautiful, but difficult to photograph. They're so densely wooded the the frame just fills with random green foliage. Still, they contain some cool stuff.

Mahogany tree in Mahogany Hammock

I had much more luck photographing things inside of the hammock than I did with panoramas.

Morning Glory

I saw numerous strangler figs. These are curious trees that germinate when their seed land (usually coated with bird poop) on the branches of other trees. They grow both down to the ground and up towards the sky, using the tree as a prop. Eventually they encircle the trunk of the host tree girdling (and killing) it. The host tree then decays inside the strangler fig, leaving it to reproduce and begin the cycle anew. And you thought that plants were peaceful, docile organisms.

Strangler Fig

There were other interesting denizens of Mahogany Hammock.

Barred Owl

We weren't seeing many insects, just a few dragonflies and a couple of zebra longwing butterflies. In search of more wildlife, we went the rest of the way down the road to Park Headquarters at Flamingo. And did we ever find some good stuff.

There were saltwater crocodiles lolling in the water.

White Pelican, winter plumage

An amazing abundance of waterfowl turned out.

You tramp, you look like a chorus girl!

We even got some close views of Roseate Spoonbills. Our day ended much chillier than it began. There was a frontal passage early this afternoon. We took our final hike through the pine rocklands at Long Pine Key, where we saw lots of interesting plants.

Pine Rockland Ecosystem

Acacia pinetorum

Lobelia sp.

Coontie - Zamia floridana

Ruellia sp.

I's wonderful to be out of winter for a bit. For more skywatch, go here.

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At 21:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see you've wasted no time. And good timing: escaping the nasty mid-winter in Illinois not a minute too soon.

At 21:59, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're correct. No sign of this blog over at Multiply. Hmmm....

At 22:20, Blogger Louise said...

Great post. Very interesting, informative (especially that fig part!) and terrific photos.

At 22:39, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that should be Acacia smallii.

I could almost see tiger beetles zipping across that sandy path ;-)


At 22:59, Blogger Ur-spo said...

It is nice to see that there is a bit of Florida still wild and not development.

At 23:09, Blogger dianasfaria.com said...

we saw a similar owl when we were in the everglades too. it really made our day. great sky watch!

At 08:25, Blogger Judy said...

wonderfully informative post! loved the part about the strangler fig
was the morning glory growing wild?

At 12:35, Blogger Celeste said...

Just like Africa with the strangler, the acacia and the croc! I love the owl shot.
I had some very delicious camembert last night :) Thank you.

At 13:21, Blogger Lemuel said...

I was loving the photos and the narration, until I got to the "chorus girl". Then I was giggling for fair!

At 14:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chuck- Welcome to the Blogger site. I'm in Marathon as I send you this.

Louise- Thanks. I've gotten several positive comments about the fig.

Ted- We went to Fairchild Gardens this morning. It's the pineland acacia acacia pinetorun.
Re the tiger beetles, I said the exact same thing to Leon. We got a good chuckle out of your comment.

At 17:11, Blogger Dr. Know said...

Great shot of the Barred Owl.

You might look into visiting Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, FL on your way back from the Keys - you did say you were in Marathon? As an amateur lepidopterist I found it interesting that last time I visited.

While sitting here in 20 degree weather with no place to go, I have come to the conclusion that Dude, You Suck.


At 20:20, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- There's still a surprising amount left. I don't know why I'm leaving you a comment here- I saw you about 5 minutes ago.

Lily Hydrangea- Welcome to the Tapestry. I think they're pretty common in Mahogany Hammock. I've seen them before, and this one let me get really close.

Judy- Welcome to the Tapestry. Yes, it was a wild morning glory.

Celeste- The acacia reminded me of a different species that I know from Arizona. Glad you enjoyed the Camembert.

Lem- At dinner tonight, we had 5 gay guys giggling over the chorus girl thing. Wish you'd been there.

Dr. Know- The owl was shot from beneath with me pointing my camera almost straight up. Good think it didn't poop. I've been to Butterfly Kingdom a bunch of times. There's one that I like even better here in Key West.

At 21:48, Blogger R.Powers said...

Have a good trip Doug. Lookin' forward to more posts as you travel!
Crocodile ... wow!

At 22:03, Blogger SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What a wonderful post Doug! It must be wonderful not to see snow for a change. I love the owl and also see a few similar things to what we have here. I hope you are going to find us some butterflies and post them!!

At 12:06, Blogger cedrorum said...

Looks like fun. As FC said, I'm looking forward to some more posts from the trip.

At 13:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad the arid carnival led me to your blog. The photos!!!!

At 17:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know Barred Owls were there....they are HERE!!! We have had a pair set up nesting last year very near the house.......afraid our flying squirrels are bait.... GLAD you took the time to share more about the Everglades, I can see I knew much less than I thought about the area.

At 12:32, Blogger Doug Taron said...

FC- I was thinking of you as I photographed the croc. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here. Oh wait, you are.

Joan- I was getting so tired of snow. It is wonderful to see green plants and, of course, insects. New butterfly photo up this morning.

cedrorum- I'm having a very good time. I started blogging just a few months after my last trip to Florida and it's been an uncharacteristically long lapse between visits.

liliannattel- Welcome to the Tapestry. I'm glad you are enjoying my blog. I thought Carnival of the Arid was a great idea and a lot of fun.

Mark- The Everglades are a truly amazing place. Spo and I were mentioning you and Rodger last night. I mentioned that I had tried to talk you into coming along on this trip, but to no avail. I wish I could have talked you guys into it.

At 14:16, Blogger rodger said...

Meh...we can see barred owls from our deck. hehe

I wish we'd joined you too...I could use some nice warm air and sunshine. And...it would be great to see you again and meet the Spo!

Maybe next time.

At 15:52, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

Doug, what wonderful bird shots you got! I love the barred owl. I have yet to see one myself. That info on the strangler fig is amazing! Living in the desert, I well know that plants can be hostile! Wow! Still, there's a lesson in learning to grow out of poop and reach for the sky with your roots in the ground!

At 12:54, Blogger BentonQuest said...

Doug, as always, great photos and comments. Thanks for a bit of summer in the winter.


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