September « 2011 « verdure
chompy (sawgrass part 2)
Sunday, September 25th, 2011

On our latest trip to Sawgrass, in mid September, we saw lots of juvenile alligators.

Underneath one of the bridges across the canal, an oak leaf drifted past this tiny alligator

oak leaf

And at the shore another alligator was basking. You can see its foot prints in the mud.


On a previous visit, we’d seen a large adult (the mother?) alligator where this little baby was.


At the overlook where this picture was taken, there were a bunch of sunfish, tilapia and turtles. Here, a small softshell turtle was trying to climb up on top of the larger red-eared slider


We think this is a horace’s dusky wing


An old viceroy


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knee high to a blade of grass
Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We returned to Brooker Creek over Labor Day weekend. The park was open this time, but we didn’t last long. The mosquitoes were still hovering even after applying anti-bug juice, and after the boardwalk ended, we didn’t make it far before we reached impassible water submerging the path.

A cardinal flower next to the boardwalk.


On our way out, a baby gopher tortoise was very slowly crossing the road. We stopped and stood over it, waiting for it to come out of hiding and continue on its way, as it would have easily been run over. Another park visitor stopped and took pictures with us.

knee high to a blade of grass

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sawgrass catching up part 1
Saturday, September 24th, 2011

This is from the end of July. A black and yellow garden spider. This one is missing two legs. We watched another one laying down its zigzag pattern on its web.

6 legged

I’m not sure the name of this spider. It was deconstructing its web.

tear down

A green tree frog, scootching backwards along the elephant ear leaf.


Another of the sulphurs, perhaps an orange-barred

orange barred

This little snake was on the path along the canal, playing dead. We’re not sure what species it is either. My guess is a southern water snake, but juveniles often look different than the adults, so it could be anything. When you read the species guides, they often differentiate using the underside markings, but that’s of little use to me with a wild animal. They don’t exactly turn over for you just so you can take a picture.


A roseate skimmer. We see them flying over the drainage pond behind the townhome, but I haven’t seen them land out back.


An osprey, feathers ruffled, huge talons.

fish hawk

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East Sussex
Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

When planning the trip to the UK, I knew that I wanted to see a castle. I found that “castle” can mean quite a few things, however. There are restored castles, furnished, with demonstrations, and guides in period dress. There are castles in various levels of ruin, some with only fragments of stone wall or only earthworks remaining. There are castles that were meant to be lived in, those that were intended to convey the power and might of the owner, and those that were defensive fortresses built in times of war. You can watch developments in architecture and building materials, such as size of windows, by looking at castles from different time periods.

Many of England’s stone castles were refortifications of original wooden Motte-and-bailey structures. Such was the case for Hastings Castle, which was built around the time that William the Conqueror reached England in 1066, and rebuilt in stone in 1070. The cliffs it was built on have eroded, sending the keep and half of the curtain wall into the sea, leaving one of the towers and parts of The Collegiate Church of St. Mary-in-the-Castle.

hastings castle

Camber Castle, on the other hand, was built in 1512 – 1514 to defend Rye anchorage, but the river silted up and it was abandoned in 1637. Today it is surrounded by sheep pastures and a nature reserve.


The only way to get to the castle is by footpath. England is criss-crossed by public footpaths that can take you from one coast to the other. These footpaths are often on private property. Walkers are expected to close the gates they walk through, which are helpfully labeled as public rights of way, and respect the owner’s property. This is very contrary to the attitudes of the sprawling United States, where there is no such honor system and the Private Property signs are only ignored by low life hunters that blithely shoot near or at homes.

Here, a footpath on the East Hill of Hastings, follows the cliffs over the sea. The wildest places we saw still seemed somewhat tamed. Everywhere in England, even if it’s been allowed to return to nature now, has been shaped over the centuries by human habitation.

coastal path

A gatekeeper butterfly.


And a six spot burnet moth.


Battle Abbey is at the site where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold, erected by William as penance for the killings during his invasion. The Church of St. Martin, finished around 1094, with its altar on the supposed spot where King Harold fell, was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. The abbey is in ruin but can be explored, while the gatehouse is still in excellent condition, and today houses the gift shop and a small museum.


Here are the beautiful arched ceilings in the novice’s room in the abbey.

novices room

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Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I joined Mike for 5 days in England at the end of July. We spent two nights in London and three in Hastings.

I liked what I saw of London a lot more than New York City. There was more stone, and greenery. It was certainly dense, with narrow streets and buildings right up against each other. Yards, if a house had one, were the tiniest of spaces. Lots of little shops on the street level, with apartments above. Everything was so pleasantly walkable. The underground station near our London hotel was closed the weekend we were there, so we used the nearby train station instead.

The trains were great! I have only amusement park and restored tourist railroads to compare against, and I’m told there are better in mainland Europe, but these were sturdy, frequent, and comfortable. And fairly expensive. But they, along with the other forms of public transport, are a completely feasible way to get around in the more populated areas. In London we never checked time tables; we just showed up at the station and always had less than a ten minute wait.

On my first day, we visited Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, west of London. This is the Chokushi-Mon (Gateway of the Imperial Messenger): “a four-fifths sized replica of the Karamon of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto…. The gateway is made of hinoki wood (Japanese cypress) with a traditional copper roof.”


We also walked through the Temperate and Evolution Glasshouses.


These were delightful buildings, quaint, whimsical, kind of steampunk, overflowing with plants delightedly climbing over each other. This is the exit from a catwalk that is open to visitors.


Aeonium undulatum, a large succulent from the Canary Islands, with rosettes probably a foot and a half wide.

not chicken and hen

On our second day in London, we went to the Natural History Museum. This is the main hall. The tip of a the 105-foot long Diplodocus carnegii’s tail is just visible at the base of the staircase.


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