February « 2011 « verdure
scrub
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Oscar Scherer State Park is a surprisingly large park, over two square miles, for being right in the middle of the urban sprawl. Trails criss cross the park, with arrows on stakes pointing you to the official paths. Usually. South Creek, barely more than a drainage ditch in the northern sections, meanders through the park, and the Legacy Trail (Sarasota to Venice Rail-Trail) cuts north to south.

The park protects the Florida Scrub Jay, the only bird endemic to Florida. While bold and curious like their Blue Jay relatives, they only live in Florida scrub, hot, sandy areas consisting mainly of dwarf oak and frequented by wildfire. Habitat reduction has reduced their numbers to less than 8,000 mature birds. The park conducts a monthly census of its population of Florida Scrub Jays; every bird we saw had leg bands.

Florida Scrub Jay

We saw several sulphurs and zebra swallowtails, one red admiral and this common buckeye:

common buckeye

I haven’t been able to identify this one, so I’m calling it a feathered moth.

who am i?

Nor do we know what kind of fish these were, but there were several huge schools in South Creek.

fishies

I don’t think I’ve seen Northern Flickers since the group that lived near our townhome in Seattle.

male northern flicker

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prairie
Friday, February 4th, 2011

I’m terribly behind on posting pictures. One picture of a poinsettia hardly covers the San Diego trip. But here instead is one of our first outings with the new T2i camera, to Paynes Prairie just south of Gainesville, in the last days of December.

This is not a grassland prairie. Almost everywhere has brush much taller than me. I believe this is a yellow-rumped warbler.

butter-butt

It was a delightfully warm day after a stretch of cold, and this may have been the first day the armadillos were able to rout about in a while. In any case, they were plentiful, and completely indifferent to our presence. Usually they have their head down sniffing about under the leaf litter, so they must not use their eyes much.

scaley nose

The new camera is very inviting and has a gorgeous screen on the back. Several killdeer were patrolling the trail, would fly a little ahead, we’d catch up, they’d fly a little farther, and finally, perturbed, fly over our head to land back on the trail behind us.

killdeer

A green (?) anole.

long toes

Just a few feet rise in elevation from the prairie there are stands of sweet gum. A red-bellied woodpecker.

tap-tap-tap-tap-tap

And then a few feet above that the oak and palmetto start back up. It was in here that we saw the wild horses that live in the park, albeit ones very accustomed to people walking by. They seem to be fending just fine, eating palmetto and acorns while we watched.

bay

grey

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