Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday Afternoon and Saturday Morning

Yesterday was Friday and it was a beautiful afternoon.  Blue skies, cool and breezy for South Florida.  I am a creature of habit and guilt.  There is almost always a voice in my head telling me I need to get home and clean/do laundry/cook/crochet/make items for Etsy/WORK IN THE JUNGLE YARD, etc.....but I resisted.  I told myself it is a good thing to do on a Friday afternoon to take one's camera and head for a lesser visited park.  I had no agenda, no special birds to look for, just perhaps to pick up some more Live Oak acorns for my tiny tree reindeer ornaments.

Since I have a sedentary job, I don't walk much, and, at 60, that is not good.  Use it or lose it.  So I put on my sneakers, grabbed my 40 pound collection of camera and lenses, and headed out to Long Key Nature Center and Natural Area.  This is a part of Pine Island Ridge, an area that protruded from the Everglades waters back in the 1800's, and where Seminole Indians took refuge from the soldiers who could not follow them at that time.  Back then this area was deep in the glades and hard to find.  There are lots of beautiful trees, mostly Live Oak, along this ridge which is now bisected by Flamingo and Hiatus Road.  In the 1950's this area was made into a kind of Indian village/old west tourist attraction.  Then in the 1970's, the Kapok Tree Restaurant was built there in all its' Greek Revival glory.  There are white Greek pillars around the grounds of the park today although the main building of the restaurant is long gone.  Native trees and bushes have been encouraged to grow, and there is a lovely nature walk among the Live Oaks.  

First I looked for acorns, but it seems the critters had been there first and I didn't find much at all. I guess it is a bit late in the acorn season.  

The air smelled so fresh and the sky was an intense blue with lots of fluffy white clouds.  Since it was about 3:30pm, the afternoon sun made everything brighter and more vibrant.  Below are some pictures I took as I meandered and played with the camera settings.  I'm a total amateur while my husband is much more knowledgeable about photography.  I try to master the magic triangle of aperture, ISO and shutter speed.  I understand the concept, but translating that into the many buttons and knobs on my Canon is a challenge.

This morning - Saturday - I heard the call of exotic parrots heading for our Wax Myrtle tree which is in seed.  Every year around this time, Blue Crowned Parakeets come to our yard to crunch (you can literally hear them all crunching on the berries - sounds like popping popcorn) on Wax Myrtle berries.  Today is was about 2 dozen birds.  At the bottom, below the pictures from the park are some pics of the beautiful parrots.
Below is Beautyberry - a prolific native plant that is edible for humans and a favorite of birds.  The berries are a beautiful shade of purple/pink.

Moss hanging from a tree

 A view of the pond by the entrance of the park

On the nature walk among the trees I spied this small group of ferns and grasses growing out of a hole in a tree trunk.

Another pond farther to the northwest of the park along a horse trail

Yet another pond with a large white heron in the distance fishing for dinner.

Possum Haw holly

Muhlenbergia Capillaris, better known as Muhly Grass, a popular landscape plant.  The lovely reddish color of the grasses in the sun is one of my favorite sights.

Unknown seed pods - I wish I had picked some.  They didn't look like much until I saw them through the camera lens.

A small jungle around the ponds area.  There is literally no path through this and it is very dark and overgrown with all kinds of vines, palms, bushes and trees tumbling over one another.

South Florida has some BIG spiders, like the beautiful Golden Silk Orb Weaver.  They build their webs from tree to tree, but this nest is not one of theirs.  It is messy and is full of tree litter and dead leaves.  No spider in sight.  The Golden Silk Orb Weaver stays right in the center of his web and is always visible.  Don't know what made this huge messy web.

Unknown plant with tiny white flowers getting ready to bloom.

This tiny flower was in muddy wet ground.  It was so small I barely saw it. 

Gotcha - vine reaching out and grabbing a branch.

And now for the Blue Crowned Parakeets AKA Blue Crowned Conures.  I took a bunch of photos and a lot didn't come out.  Enough did, however.  I am sure going to miss this aspect of birding when we move to Idaho next year.  Boy will THAT be a change, but one I am looking forward to - provided everything works out as planned.  Often that doesn't happen, so I'm keeping an open mind. 

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