Storms, Baby Turtles

Aug 30, 2008 by Janine |
It has been a crazy week.

There are several storms at various stages of intensity stewing in the Atlantic, some heading this way. We are already experiencing some nasty wind and rain from distant Hurricane Gustav. Luckily it seems we are out of its path, not so lucky for Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Hannah looks to be heading our way, although the computer models are pretty disorganized right now.

I am starting a new job soon and will be moving in the near future to be closer to the office.

The good news is I'm off next week to relax and catch up on some things, as well as check out some properties. As long as the weather holds up, at least ;)

On to more exciting things... last weekend we visited the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. They have plenty of sea turtle hatchlings housed temporarily until they gain strength and can be released.

The most common hatchlings are loggerheads, although there are a few green turtles as well.

Green sea turtle

Loggerhead turtle named Arlington. They name each turtle and give a short description of its treatment. Arlington was found weak and anemic and is being treated with antibiotics.

Arlington surfaces

Loggerhead hatchlings

Egg tooth from hatching still visible

Clever Crows

Aug 24, 2008 by Janine |
Dragonflies have been abundant the past several weeks due to the heavy rains and high mosquito levels. They congregate in dense clouds of hundreds and it is impossible to avoid hitting them as you drive through Everglades National Park. Not surprisingly, the juvenile crows have figured out how to get an easy meal.

Step 1. Hang around parking lot and wait for vehicles to arrive.

Step 2. Inspect vehicle for dragonfly carcasses.

Step 3. Pluck dragonfly from grille.

Step 4. Consume dragonfly.

Step 5. Repeat 1-4 as necessary.

Tropical Storm Fay

Aug 20, 2008 by Janine |
I enjoyed the day off yesterday while Fay blew through. We didn't get much high winds but there was plenty of rain. Many of the streets were flooded. We went to the beach to watch the surfers, who always hit the beach right before and after a storm to take advantage of the waves. Here are some cell phone pics of the action.

Scenic Shots

Aug 19, 2008 by Janine |
I bought a reconditioned D80 from Ebay last week and tried it out on Saturday. Its a great little camera, more compact than the D200 and easy to carry with a short lens for landscape shots.

Here are a few scenes along the Anhinga Trail.

Sunset at "Allie's Lake." Unfortunately Allie the alligator was nowhere to be seen. Mosquitoes were abundant. I had to wear my head net for these shots.

In other news, Fay has been gentle with us here, tons of rain but winds have not been bad.

More wildlife shots from ENP later this week.


Aug 17, 2008 by Janine |
Six days ago, a Horned Lark was spotted in the agricultural fields just outside of Everglades National Park. Apparently it is a mega-rarity for this area, not seen for twenty years or so. I figured it would be long gone by the time we got down there yesterday- but amazingly, it remained in the same location.

We got pretty good binocular and scope views, and I captured this stunning image:

We also paid a visit to the Chekika entrance of Everglades National Park. White-tailed kites have been seen reliably in the past few weeks, but we did not see much bird life of any kind due to a rapidly approaching thunderstorm. We did see a Stinkpot turtle and Florida Box turtle, both crossing the road.

Florida Box (male)

We finally headed down to the main park entrance. Anhinga trail had plenty of alligators but very quiet otherwise.

A big gator was lying close to the boardwalk, under some shrubs. Here is a close up of his "hand"

More shots to come later this week!

Wood storks, beardies

Aug 11, 2008 by Janine |
I was taking glamour shots of Wood Storks the other day. Well, as glamorous as they can be, anyway. I was aiming for shots like this:

When I got home and looked at the pictures closely I was amused to see this:

Pale Roseate Spoonbill:

In other news, I got a used D80 off ebay this weekend. It will be a good second camera for taking landscape and scenery shots- something I think I should do more of but couldn't be bothered to switch lenses.

Finally, here are some photos of Tadpole's babies. These are the two that my mom kept.

Silkworm time!

Night of the Mosquito

Aug 06, 2008 by Janine |
Saturday's Everglades trip was memorable, for a couple of reasons. The first being that at the visitor's center, before entering the park, we usually douse ourselves in DEET to keep the mosquitoes at bay. I usually hold my breath to avoid inhaling any, but for some reason I miscalculated and ended up with a lungful of the stuff. So I spent most of the night with a burning throat and sick tummy.

I am now researching DEET free mosquito sprays. The mosquitoes were quite bad- even with the DEET, anyone brave enough to venture outside the truck was instantly surrounded by a cloud of them.

On the bright side, we did see a panther not long after the "incident" ;)

The second reason it was a memorable night was because we saw our first Burmese Python within the park. And a couple of hours later, we saw another smaller one.

Burmese Pythons are becoming established in the Everglades, and elsewhere in South Florida. The pythons were likely introduced over the years as pets that were released when they outgrew their enclosures. In the last few years, the python population has increased dramatically, and they appear to be expanding their range. They prey on a variety of native wildlife, including endangered species such as wood rat and musk rat. And, growing to lengths of 20 feet or more, they can be dangerous to humans as well.

The Burmese Python problem in the Everglades received international attention a couple of years ago with the gruesome discovery of a 13 foot python that had "burst" trying to digest an alligator. Here's a link to an update on that story. I definitely do not want to run into one that big.

This one was only 4-5 feet long, but emitted a menacing hiss when we approached:

The other one we saw was smaller, probably only 3 feet long. We also saw a couple of cottonmouth and garter snakes. One other unusual sighting was a Smooth Billed Ani along the Research Road. Another first for us, in the park.

Cheers to August in the Glades- we must be crazy.

Historical Museum

Aug 03, 2008 by Janine |
On Saturday we stopped by the Plantation Historical Museum. It is a pretty cool little place. They had an exhibit on the ice-age fauna of Florida, with replica skeletons of many long extinct creatures.

Its hard to imagine Florida as home to Saber-tooth cats, Mastodon, giant armadillos, and Giant Ground Sloth. But during the last ice age, Florida was drier and cooler, and consisted of wide expanses of savannah. The extinction of the megafauna is thought to coincide with a period of rapid climate change and the arrival of paleo-indians to the region, both occurring approximately 10,000 -12,000 years ago.

Saber-tooth cat

American Lion (larger than modern African Lions!)

It was also interesting to note that many animals that now reside in South America were once found in Florida as well. Fossil remains of Capybara and Tapir, which now reside in the Amazon, have been discovered in Florida alongside those of ice age megafauna. This is due to the sea levels being much lower at that time, which created a larger land bridge between the two continents that enabled mass migrations of plant and animal species.


Plantation Historical Musuem also houses the Plantation Fire Department museum. I was amazed to learn that they are staffed almost entirely by the Plantation Volunteer Fire Association.

The original Fire Truck (still used for parades and official functions)

I thought these Firefighting Balls were strange. Apparently they contain carbon tetrachloride, which would put out a fire by starving the flames of oxygen. The heat of the fire would break the glass, releasing the fluid. Carbon tetrachloride was banned from use in fire extinguishers in the 1950s because it is harmful to human health. I had no idea such a thing existed.

So that was our trip to the museum. Details of the Everglades trip to be posted later this week.