Monday, June 19, 2017

The Water is Rising

Sunday June 18th

I hadn't planned on walking the four miles around the north cell at Harns Marsh, but the weather was tolerable. Not terribly hot, not very buggy, there was a nice breeze and its not raining.

Sandhill Crane at Harns Marsh

Harns Marsh is operated as a storm water retention facility by the East County Water Control District to control flooding in the area. Just a few weeks ago the marsh along with this entire region  of Florida were suffering from drought conditions. Most all of the wetlands here had dried out.  Drainage ditches had dried out and were populated with vultures working over the remains of the many dead fish left behind. These conditions were also bad on the wildlife depending on these wetlands Limpkins and many other wading birds have been concentrating at the few wet holes still remaining. Species like the gray-headed swamphens and purple gallinules have disappeared.

Brownheaded Cowbird seen at Harns Marsh

But the rains have arrived.  Heavy rains.  Lots of water. Lots of sheet flow. All of these dried out canals, lakes and wetlands are now full.  Very Full. Today the water levels are too high and moving too swiftly at Harns Marsh for the wading birds. But today I'm walking the four miles to see if any of the swamphens or purple gallinules could be relocated elsewhere on the property. Did sight a couple of Snail Kites and a count of sixteen Limpkins, plus a Least Bittern and a handful of Mottled Ducks. But no swamphens or purple gallinules.

There is a species that benefits from the earlier dry down conditions. The Wood Stork. Wood Stork nesting is about water levels. A good wet season, enabling prey species to multiply followed by a drying down, to concentrate these food sources needed for raising their hatchlings. This nesting season saw the first nesting colony at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary since 2014 with as many as four hundred nests. These numbers as a fraction of the annual thousand nest that used to colonize Corkscrew Swamp not that long ago. As our human population expanses in south Florida all our wading birds are suffering

Live Apple Snail photographed at Harns Marsh

Friday, June 16, 2017

Florida Reptiles

Friday, June 15th

Mama Gator with Hatchling at Apple Pond Trail on Sanibel

Southern Florida is currently in our annual Birding Doldrums. Its the slowest time of the year to enjoy birding activities.  We do have many species which are either residents like Rosette Spoonbills or summer visitors here for nesting such as Gray Kingbirds or Swallow-tailed Kites. Migration has ended for now and so many wintering visitors have left to nest in the North such as Yellow-rumped Warblers or American Avocets. Later, as the summer progresses lots of birders will augment the slow
birding by with observations on Dragon Flies and Butterflies.

This American Crocodile was found along a canal in Miami-Dade County

 I, also, like to make observations on the reptile life we have here in Florida. We have native and many exotic reptile species inhabiting every possible eco-system. Here a few of the species I have managed to photograph. 

Box Turtle displaying a very wore shell, seen at Babcock-Webb
House Gecko (exotic) can be found on the exterior of many buildings

Yellow Rat Snake from Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Black Racer - Very Common Species

Water Moccasin - Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Ring-necked Snake
A healthier looking Florida Box Turtle

Puerto Rico Crested Anole (exotic) seen in Coral Gables
Bark Anole (exotic) seen in Coral Gables
Knight Anole (exotic) Seen in Coral Gables

African Rainbow Agama (exotic) seen in Coral Gables

African Rainbow Agama seen in Coral Gables

Green Iguana (exotic) are rather Common in South Florida

Basilisk Lizard (Exotic) seen in several counties in south Florida
Scarlet Kingsnake
Gopher Tortoise
Ornate Terrapin seen at Ding Darling NWR
Florida Ribbon Snake seen at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Spiny Tailed Iguana (exotic) seen in Miami

Brown Cuban Anole (exotic)

Brown Cuban Anole seen at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
A Northern Curly Tailed Lizard (exotic) found in the Florida Keys
Green Anole