Friday, October 20, 2017

Escapades In and Around Stuart Florida

As photo and story sharing goes we are waaaaaaay behind.  We've been venturing out for short and long adventures in local parks and preserves.  In the hopes of getting caught up we'll probably do more photo sharing than story telling and hit just the highlights.  Still, this may occupy more than just one post because we've seen some neat things.

2017-09-09 Forida, Stuart - Sea Urchins
A while back we had a few days where there were hundreds of sea urchins washed up on-shore.

We like to spend time near the river or the intracoastal observing the smaller things and

                        watching the feeding frenzy that takes place each morning.

There is also a lot of feeding going on in the plant world...

                                   Oleander Caterpillar eating its namesake...

         and this still unidentified beauty chowing down...

Nicole enjoys putting on her up-close-spectacles and watching them do their thing.

Thought this was a Squirrel Tree Frog that had escaped being eaten by an invasive Cuban Tree Frog.
However, it is more likely that this is an immature Cuban Tree Frog.  Oh well, he does have pretty eyes.

The Florida Strangler Fig is a most interesting tree.  It begins life as a seedling in the top of the host tree where competition for ground level nutrients and light does not exist.  Do you see the still flourishing palm in the center of it?  The seedling fig sends down long roots to the ground from where it begins to surround the host tree.  It grows quickly and eventually suffocates the host: when the host tree dies it leaves an enormous upright strangler with a hollow core.

We have several of these on our property and have seen many others on our walks.  The patterns that the roots take on are quite beautiful.  Although they reportedly kill their host tree, we have seen many where both trees appear to be thriving.  Perhaps there is some adaptation going on.

Though this one was quiet, the noise from the Cicada in Florida can be quite deafening at times.

One of Nicole's favorite butterflies, the White Peacock, making more White Peacock Butterflies.

We motored our bikes up to Riverside Park one day where we not only saw many birds but we also (you may want to sit down for this) pedaled our bikes around.

On another day we decided to take a hike.  I know... the wonders never do cease!

We went up to Seabranch Preserve State Park.  A place we had motored through before on the East Coast Greenway.  This time, we drove Annie and decided to explore the trails on foot.

We saw some cool things...

Band Wing Dragonfly Insect Bug (3)
                                                            Band-wing Dragonlet

Earth Start Mushroom Fungi (2)
     We saw so many of these Astraeus hygrometricus - also know as False Earthstars.

Earth Start Mushroom Fungi (5)
They are probably one of the neatest fungi / mushrooms we've seen.  Reportedly they grow in association with certain trees (in this case, we always seemed to find them near pines) and they are hygroscopic (or water absorbing) and open up their rays to expose the spore sac in response to humidity and close when the air is drier.  This explains the high numbers that we saw open as the humidity has been near 100%!

Feay's palafox Flower Plant
Feay's Palafox is a pretty little native wildflower found only in the southern 2/3 of the peninsula.

Florida Scrub Lizard Reptile
Walking in a scrub habitat meant seeing plenty of the Florida Scrub Lizard.  The ongoing loss of the scrub habitat in Florida means that they are on the threatened species list.

It seems we forgot to tell you that on this walk we got lost good and proper.  We thought we were following the blazes that would take us in a loop but in the end it seemed that the loop we were walking was actually a loop on a loop on a loop.  Sometimes getting lost has its rewards.

Geocache (1)
We found two geo-caches located just off trail.  Not bad for not even looking!

Florida Orb Weaver Egg Casing Spider Insect Bug (2)
            Darlene spotted this most magnificent Orb Weaver Spider Egg Case.

Florida Orb Weaver Egg Casing Spider Insect Bug (2)
The artist was not present so we were able to inspect it up close.

Florida Orb Weaver Egg Casing Spider Insect Bug (4)
It was absolutely amazing.  Do you see the golden thread that suspends it from each corner?  Just beautiful.

Darlene can get quite tactile with her environment.  She went to run her hands along a branch when she noticed that it was moving.

Green Lynx Spider Insect Bug (8)
                                                           Do you see it?

Green Lynx Spider Insect Bug (12)
Here it is up close and in better light - a most beautiful Green Lynx Spider.

Scrub Prairie Clover Plant Flower (2)
                                         Delicate and native Scrub Prairie Clover

Unknown Grasshopper Insect Bug (3)
One of the more interesting parts of our walk was being constantly smacked by these large grasshoppers as they leapt haphazardly about.  As Darlene put it, "We eventually stopped screaming each time it happened."   Eventually.

Speaking of eventually... At some point we found the trail back to the parking lot and finished our extra long and very hot walk in a complete and much welcomed downpour.