“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”*
Header Image: Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) on Brazilian Vervain (Verbena brasiliensis)
Sweet, tart and juicy slices of tangerine were refreshing as we rested on the shore of the lake a couple of hours after sunrise. We had already seen a lot. New bird babies, morning flowers in bloom, ducks flying overhead and now that the dew was drying from the grass, insects were beginning their day.
Earlier, we entered the Tenoroc Public Use Area and I politely asked Gini which way she would like to go. “Oh, it doesn’t much matter.” I seemed to recall a similar exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat.*
The good news is, at this particular location, it really DOESN’T matter which way we go. We always seem to find good things. Excellent habitat helps.
This morning we really enjoyed flowers blooming all over the place. A little warmer weather plus rainfall certainly encourages new growth! Almost every Osprey nest (we counted nine) had one or two chicks yelling for more food. Vireos and Northern Parulas were singing non-stop. Swallow-tailed Kites flew low over the open fields with that lilting flight as they picked off flying insects. Our regular cast of characters were very active. It might seem that we would become bored seeing the same things over and over. I guess we are easily entertained.
Oh, and a new discovery! More on that later.
For now, we shall finish breakfast and enjoy the sight of a small Osprey chick alone in a huge nest calling for someone, anyone to “FEED ME!!”.
One of the first sights and sounds of our morning was an Eastern Towhee calling loudly. It’s easy to forget this colorful bird is a sparrow.
It’s a good thing this area contains plenty of fish to feed all the new little Ospreys! The chick in the first image leans on Mom as they wait for Dad to return from the fishmonger. In the second image, a lone chick is in what may be the largest Osprey nest we’ve ever seen.
Judging by the position of this Water Moccasin in relation to where I was at the time, it could only have gotten there by crawling by my feet as I was looking through the bins at a woodpecker. Adrenaline delayed.
I haven’t been able to find a very good explanation of why this gorgeous flower is called Man-of-the-Earth (Ipomoea pandurata), but that certainly doesn’t detract from its beauty. It has also been called Wild Sweet Potato.
Nothing dresses up a drab brown field of weeds like a sprinkling of colorful Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella).
Okay, throw in some bright yellow splashes of Pricklypear (Opuntia spp.) and the drabness almost completely disappears. The second image has a visitor, a Bee-like Flower Scarab (Trichiotinus spp.).
What? Not enough color? A few bushes of Lantana (Lantana strigocamara) added to the scene and drabness has been forgotten.
Heading from one lake to another, a Bald Eagle flying low is very impressive.
Good fences make good perches. (Sorry, Mr. Frost.) A Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) likes the view from his bit of fence and it’s a great launching pad when brunch flies by.
A brand new bug! At first, due to its size, I thought it was a Hummingbird Moth. Then I got a good look at it. All gold?? A bee?? It was larger than a nearby Bumble Bee. I wasn’t aware of anything like this. After a bit of research, it appears this was a Carpenter Bee of the Xylocopa species. This particular bee has only been seen a few times east of the Rocky Mountains or outside Mexico. Not sure if it has been reported in our county before. He was very accommodating! The folks at BugGuide.net note this as: “Xylocopa (Large Carpenter Bee) (unidentified species likely adventive in Florida)”.
Very wasplike, the little Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) would like you to think that is what it might be and therefore, please, do not eat it.
Wild Bushbean (Macroptilium lathyroides) is considered an invasive plant and Florida does not recommend planting it. It was first confirmed in the state in 1944. It has been used extensively in its native country of Mexico and in Central and South America as a cover crop and as forage for livestock. The flower is attractive.
Another invasive, Brazilian Vervain (Verbena brasiliensis), has been around a long time in the U.S. and is very attractive to pollinators.
One more “tourist” who found a home in North America, the Showy Rattlebox (Crotalaria spectabilis) was imported from southern Asia to help build healthy soils which had become depleted of certain minerals. Unfortunately, the seeds are poisonous to livestock and poultry. Members of this species are called “rattlebox” due to the sound of dry seeds within their casing.
Common butterfly in our area. Uncommonly beautiful at all times. Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).
So we arrived at the entrance gate to this little patch and didn’t much care which way we went. It just didn’t much matter either, since we knew we would find adventure in any direction!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!