Header Image: Pricklypear In Bloom
“As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.” – John Muir
“Where would you like to go?”
The morning air was cool and Gini almost wished she had worn that sweatshirt. Almost. As it always does, the sun rapidly rose above the line of cypress trees on the eastern side of the small lake. Residents of this neighborhood were already going about their daily lives. Mockingbirds and cardinals were especially noisy as males announced their willingness to mate with any agreeable females. (Resisting anthropomorphism is a struggle at times.) Double-crested Cormorants decorated exposed perches as they dried their wings. Pig Frogs grunted from nearby weeds. A Red-shouldered Hawk cruised overhead shrieking – just because he can.
This is such an incredible time to visit nature! New growth on trees, blooming flowers, courting animals and our Florida humidity is still in slumber. Today we are sight-seers. No agenda, checklists or schedule. Ambling, conversing, oohing, sighing – and loving every minute of it! Gini-with-the-acute-hearing (and pretty cute …. uhh …. but I digress) announces Northern Parula Warblers seem to be everywhere.
A small dock on a lake provided the perfect setting for breakfast. Yes, peanut butter and jelly on raisin bread – again. Fresh grapes and a tangerine rounded out a perfect repast. While we munched, a pair of Palm Warblers dropped by briefly. They will soon be absent in our landscape until the fall. A huge Brown Pelican lumbered just above the water’s surface and the uniquely eerie call of a Limpkin echoed from a distant lagoon.
We were stunned to count over one hundred Cedar Waxwings this morning! They are still gleaning fruit from Brazilian Pepper bushes in preparation for the long journey north. We’ll miss that high-pitched call piercing the early morning sky. Gray Catbirds “mewed” at us from the understory and an Eastern Phoebe swooped down to grab a grasshopper. Farewell to our migratory visitors.
Osprey nests dot the shorelines of nearly every body of water and we could tell eggs were being brooded in many of them. We tried to identify woodpecker species by the sound of drumming we heard. Swallow-tailed Kites have returned from South America and an incredible diversity of insects have appeared to show their appreciation of newly blooming flowers. Hello to our natural residents.
The sleek Cedar Waxwing has graced us with its presence for the past several weeks. And we appreciate it!
Once it matures, the Heartwing Dock or Sorrel (Rumex hastatulus) turns reddish which gives the otherwise desolate fields a much more pleasant appearance. The early flowers are small and quite beautiful.
Even a small amount of rain is enough to encourage all sorts of things to grow. Especially fungus.
I have never seen an adult, but the larvae of the Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea) are abundant! This fairly large caterpillar can be found in a variety of color combinations. (If the identification of either of these is not correct, please let me know.)
I would never say one particular flower is prettier than another, but the yellow of the Pricklypear (Opuntia spp.) certainly is appealing! Picking one can be a challenge so I think I’ll just take photographs.
We think this is a male Osprey (it’s a bit smaller than the bird on the nest) attempting to mate with a female which we believe is brooding eggs. She was somewhat discouraging. He didn’t hang around. Smart bird.
Small, tall (about 24 inches) and looking good. We found a small group of Clasping Venus’ Looking-glass (Triodanis perfoliata) which really added some color to the landscape.
One of the drummers we identified earlier in the day made an appearance. A female Pileated Woodpecker probed a few branches before flapping off into the woods. The females have a black cheek stripe and the male’s stripe is red.
It’s hard not to like spring. Especially if you like to be outside. We can leave our cares and concerns indoors where they will patiently await our return. Meanwhile, among the trees we breathe deeply, hear a bird, see a flower, feel the breeze. And we are alive.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!