Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The life list is growing (and a few non-bird species of Florida)

If I added correctly, my life birds in Florida came to 13. That makes my life list 199! One more and I can get one of those "200" pins!

My life birds from the trip:

Common Peafowl (Countable in Florida! Woo Hoo!)
Muscovy Duck (domestic) (Poop. Not countable.)
Brown Pelican
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Common Moorhen
Laughing Gull
Eurasian Collared Dove
Monk Parakeet
Loggerhead Shrike
Boat-Tailed Grackle

Florida isn't just about birds and beaches. We saw so many lizards, crabs, butterflies...All different from what we can find here in the Northern reaches of Southwest Ohio:
The Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood, Florida looked promising for birds, but you know what? I saw Zero birds there.
As we drove in, I saw a sign that gave us a preview of what we would see:
Land crab crossing
Land crabs? Cool!

Land crab nibbling
I went back after a thunderstorm and there were hundreds (thousands?) of small, medium and large crabs scurrying everywhere. The small ones (about the size of a quarter) were covering the boardwalk and would scuttle out of the way as I stepped through. The big ones were in their dug-out mud holes and would disappear before my eyes as soon as I noticed them. It took a lot of finesse to get this picture. If you click on it, you will see that he is nibbling on that leaf!

White peacock butterfly
The butterfly action was nice. I saw no butterfly there that I could immediately ID, which is so fun! This one is called a white peacock.
We also saw a great fritillary and this guy:
Zebra longwing
Zebra longwing.

We walked under this guy on the boardwalk:
Wicked cool spider
A Spiny-backed orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) It looked like a colorful beer bottle cap from underneath. From what I have read, this is not a spider you have to worry about killing you or anything.

As far as I can tell, the lizards we saw running all over were Florida Scrub Lizards. I don't know from lizards...I'm a bird gal.
This one was found by the girls in the middle of the street at the Nature Center:
Wee little lizard
A baby, obviously. The other ones were about 6 to 8 inches long, and this guy measured in at a whopping 2 inches long. He hopped right up onto my hand, then jumped onto Isabelle, who thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to her.

Anyone wondering if we saw alligators?
Um, HELL YEAH. We saw alligators that were way too close to us.
We visited the Everglades on two different days (more on the first time in another post). Finishing a walk along one of the levees, we came to a boat ramp where some young guys (and one small girl about Lorelei's age) were fishing. 30 feet into the water was an alligator.
An eight-foot alligator:

Croc up close
The guys were at least smart enough to lead the little girl away, but they were not smart enough to leave themselves. We kept our distance, knowing full well that an alligator would consider
one of our children a nice meal. And that a full-grown alligator can run up to 35 miles an hour for short bursts. We retreated to higher ground to take pictures. The gator got to within 10 feet of the fishermen, looking very interested in what they were doing. I'm sure gators learn quickly that fishermen will toss out the guts as they dress a fish, so fishermen=free meals. But we were not going to allow our kids to be in any danger. We got in the car and later drove by to make sure there was no carnage. The fishermen's car was gone. Or maybe the gator ate them, then their car?
(A sobering stat: I read that of the last 20 alligator-related deaths in Florida, 10 of them were kids under the age of 13....that is plenty for me to have had an unbreakable grip on the kids)


The Swami said...

Was the Boat-Tailed Grackle an inboard or outboard. I believe the inboard is rarer (actually, it is better well done than rare, and should be served with a flaming pinot noir glaze. In a pinch, you can substitute diesel fuel).

Lynne said...

I gotta say, my fave pictures are of that cool spider and the itty bitty lizard. I'd have kept a tight grip on my kids around the alligator too.

kristin said...

P.S. I also remember running into various spider webs, more than once, over all the yrs of living in Florida....some of them were made by the spider in your photo...and whether they were "deadly" or not, it was just NO FUN getting them out of your face and/or hair! Another commom spider was the "banana spider", which I also had my share of "run-in's" with. Good thing my folks had already taught me an "appreciation" of nature and creepy, crawly things...kept me from "freaking out", when my female (and male) friends were doing just that. :)

Hey, and thanx for the info in your sidebar about the "Goodsearch" search engine. I have already used it, and asked that the donation be sent to your center. have also shared the info about the site with several friends and family members. Very cool idea.

Mary said...

I love to get up close to a land crab and snap away. Lucky you!

I'd also love to use zoom to get close to the alligators. Lucky you!

I'm really glad Lorelei and Isabelle got to feel and smell the ocean. It's like another world, I know.


dguzman said...

Nice work! And wow--199. I'm so jealous.

Windyridge said...

Yeah I was chased by an alligator when I was swimming. Scariest thing that ever happened to me.

Never heard of land crabs. Neat!

KatDoc said...

Hey, maybe we will both reach a landmark number of Life Birds in Cape May - I just checked my list, and I am at 296 - just 4 more Lifers and I will hit 300.


RuthieJ said...

lizards, crabs, butterflies & gators.....lots of good things to see even when you're not seeing birds. Thanks for sharing all these neat pictures with us.
P.S. Is there really a "200" pin??

Patrick Belardo said...

Sounds like Florida was a blast. Usually there are lots of Anolis lizards all over Florida too. Unfortunately, the Peafowl isn't countable on the ABA list, but it is countable on the Florida checklist and by the AOU. So, it depends what list you go by if you want to count it or not.