|Black Skimmer Colony|
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
|Flamingo filter feeding|
|Flamingo webbed feet|
Flamingo Gardens Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary gives residence to permanently injured and non-releasable birds and animals, and is home to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife- including alligators, bear, bobcats, eagles, otters, panthers, peacocks and flamingos! All the enclosures were large and clean. We walked through a large free-flight aviary with this sign on the door. #14 struck me as especially important!
Since I spend many hours cleaning bird poop at Raptor Rehab, I appreciated all the work it took for this. They had good representatives of the raptors, as well as Pelicans, Gulls, and other water birds. All the birds were busy preening, a sign of their good health.
Unfortunately, since these birds were in captivity, we can't honestly include them on our list for this trip, but it was still exciting to see them.
|Oz the Opossum|
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
|Little Blue Heron|
- Open pond water areas to attract waterfowl and diving birds
- Emergent marsh areas for rails, moorhens, and sparrows
- Shallow shelves for herons and egrets
- Islands with shrubs and snags to serve as roosting, nesting, and basking sites
- Forested wetland areas for long-term habitat development
|Anhinga with nesting material|
|Iguana in orange|
But we have been really surprised at all the iguanas! I posted about a green one the other day, but these huge iguanas were perched in the trees and bushes at the wetlands, advertising for a mate with bright orange spikes and feet! The three species of iguana found in Florida (Common Green Iguana, Mexican Spinytail Iguana, and Black Spinytail Iguana) have been around for decades. However, over the past few years, their populations have exploded.
It's sometimes hard to decide what to do about family in your vacation area. Should you go see them or not? We decided to drive on up to Palm Beach and visit. However, you have to be careful about getting too enthused about your own hobby. I'm never sure if they are really interested or just being polite when I talk about birds. However, when the visit was over, we moved on to Loxahatchee National Wildlife Reserve. It too has large impoundments of water, but we were pleased to find some of the smaller birds in the trees around the marshes.
The little Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher gave his high pitched call, and flashed his tail that looks like a mockingbird. The Palm Warbler was in winter plumage, and we had to look in several resources to be sure of the ID. And a Black and White Warbler flashed in and out of the bushes before us. I'm never sure which warblers might still be in the country for the winter.
Saturday, December 05, 2015
Friday, December 04, 2015
We sat by the pool this afternoon, eyeing the purple skies, when people started looking in the grass. Did you find a lizard? I innocently asked. Not just a lizard, but one of the big green iguanas that have invaded Florida from the exotic animal trade. They are invasive and have become a real problem, but look at the fantastic camouflage! Once it moved away from the tree trunk, it disappeared in the grass.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
Well, no rain yet, so let's walk along the beach. Every time we come to the shore, I have to re-learn the differences between the birds we find- color, size, feet color and other markings make the difference for an ID. Even though, I'm not always sure I've made the right call. Nothing new there.
It's always good to see a group of birds on the beach. If I'm careful and can sneak up for some closer shots.
The Royal Terns always go bald in the winter. The younger birds still beg for food, so we heard lots of chirping.
I have yet to see Skimmers feeding, although I am still hopeful. Maybe I'll get lucky this trip.
|Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover|
Many birds stand on one foot while resting. It surprised me when they started hopping around on one foot. Oh, the poor little things! But then they second foot touched the sand and they walked as usual.
|Ring-billed Gull and Sanderling|
Size comparisons are always fun... What? You say I've said all this before? Probably so, but it was years ago no doubt, and I didn't expect anyone to remember. I'm just glad to get out when it isn't raining!
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Saturday, September 05, 2015
Sterling Falls, part of the Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area, a conservation area acquired from the family of IBM's Tom Watson and maintained by six different conservation organizations in Vermont. There are several hiking trails, but the most popular, I would guess, leads to the gorge and has the added attraction of interpretive signs. Since Dick and I are involved with such interpretation we really appreciated them. If I could find a way to contact the right group, I would let them know. All week, I've wished we had a geologist along. Somehow, I'd always thought Vermont was full of granite, and not much else. Internet research shows this is absolutely wrong, but I still would appreciate more guidance.
For example, did you know that a gorge consists of a series of moderate-sized falls, cascades, and pools. A gorge is a section of a stream channel with continuous rock walls which are at least 10 feet high on both sides. A small gorge has walls under 40 feet high and a large gorge has walls over 40 feet high. The walls at Sterling Falls Gorge range from as low as 11 feet at the northern end to over 50 feet at the southern end. Several falls and cascades occur at Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area. The difference between the two is distinguished by how the water falls from the bedrock exposure. A falls is a vertical or near vertical drop which is at least 3 feet high. The water shoots outward and falls without touching the rock. A cascade is a bedrock exposure which is not vertical but at either a high or a low angle and the water remains in contact with the bedrock. A small falls or cascade is under 20 feet and a large one is over 20 feet.
Some of the fallen rocks are in fact large slabs of fallen wall but others were transported when the stream had much more energy. Perhaps in the spring, during the snowmelt season, the stream's discharge was at a much greater volume. The measure of a stream's ability to transport a certain maximum grain size of sediment is referred to as a stream's competence. Looking at the wide variety of sizes of material in Sterling Brook, it is obvious that its competence varies greatly with the season.
How do you think schistosity affects the credibility of the rock? Is it more credible with vertical or horizontal schistosity? The schisosity is a plane of weakness in the rock. It allows water to penetrate and more easily erode the rock than if it were a more homogenous "harder" rock. I love learning new vocabulary! You think of rocks being hard, but "credible?"
While watching Vermont PBS in the evening this week, we heard they were offering a special activity for their members at Smugglers' Notch Resort this Saturday, including a visit from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science - VINS - which rehabs raptors along with many other things. Well, I couldn't pass that by, could I? The presenter did a marvelous job, and it's always reassuring to hear someone else echo the things we always say about raptors. She even told the story about Kestrels being able to track mice because they can see mouse pee glowing in ultraviolet light, which they are able to see!