Saturday, March 31, 2018

Day Three Of Walking

On the third day of Alex's visit we choose Spruce Bluff.  It is a very urban set-up but still we saw new things.  This property is right down the middle of a subdivision so it sees a bit more traffic than some of the others we've been to.  It is however a location of Historical Interest being the site of an early pioneer settlement and cemetery along the banks of the St. Lucie River.  So, thankfully, it was saved from development.  Spruce Bluff was first settled in 1891 and became a community of several families with a school, post office and sawmill. 

2018-03-11 Florida, Stuart - Spruce Bluff - Gravesite (2)
Unfortunately, although they saved the land and (we hope) the bodies in the cemetery, everything else from this historical settlement is gone.  Still, it was nice to think about how things used to be on our great Peninsula of FLA.  

The walk through Spruce Bluff's Pioneer Settlement Trail is pretty much a walk of imagination.  Although we did not see any settlement remains we did spot a few other nature based items of interest.

Pioneer Trail -  Scenes
A purple lady bug... courtesy of Martin County Rocks!

Pioneer Trail - Abrus precatorius Rosary Pea Plant
Abrus precatorius - The Rosary Pea sounds like a sweet little plant but it is actually highly toxic.

Pioneer Trail - Barred Yellow Eurema daira Sulphur Butterfly
New Butterfly Alert!!!   Eurema daira - the Barred Yellow Sulphur Butterfly

Pioneer Trail - Scenes (2)
The Tree Of Love by Martin County Rocks.

Pioneer Trail - Scenes (3)
The Pioneer Trail leads down to the St. Lucie River where the temperatures were considerably cooler.

Pioneer Trail - Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Spider
Finally, a decent shot of the topside of Gasteracantha cancriformis - the Spiny-backed Orb Weaver.

The second trail at this location is about the long forgotten Ais Indian Tribe.  Many visitors or residents of Florida are very familiar with the Seminole Indian Tribe.  The Ais Indians though were Aboriginal and not related to the more commonly known Seminole Indians.

This tribe (which was named by Spanish explorers who encountered them in the 1500's) settled in FLA long before Ponce arrived.   The Ais were a nomadic tribe who liked to make their camps along the Indian River (formerly known as Rio de Ais) and were hunters,  gathers and fishermen not farmers.  Unfortunately, the Ais did not survive long.  After 1700 settlers began to raid their villages and capture them as slaves.  They were gone by 1760.

As you walk the Ais trail at Spruce Bluff the brochure directs you to look for various plants that the Ais utilized in their everyday life.  It then leads you to...

Ais Trail - Indian Mound (1)

It doesn't look like much to the casual observer but this mound of dirt is suspected to left behind by the Ais.
It is 20-feet-tall and 180-feet in diameter.  Though some research claims the Ais were not the creators of this mound, it was indeed created by early tribes (reported between 100 and 300 B.C.).

Indian mounds or middens can be found all over Florida.  Unfortunately, probably more than half have been plowed down to make roads, buildings, etc.  Thankfully, some have been preserved and researched.  Indian mounds were typically either burial or everyday waste based.  All contain untold information regarding Florida's earliest residents.

Ais Trail - Great Blue Heron Bird (2)
The Ais trail provided some scenic views.

Ais Trail - Netted Pawpaw (Asimina reticulata) (1)
Netted Pawpaws were blooming all over the place.

Ais Trail - Netted Pawpaw (Asimina reticulata) (2)
Asimina reticulata

Ais Trail - Scenes (3)
We walked the trail

Ais Trail - Scenes (6)
out to the wetland area where we saw very high numbers of Pileated Woodpeckers.

Ais Trail - exobasidium vaccinii fungal based gall on Plant (2)
We saw these crazy looking fungal based galls.

Ais Trail - exobasidium vaccinii fungal based gall on Plant (4)
Exobasidium vaccinii

Ais Trail - exobasidium vaccinii fungal based gall on Plant (5)
was not like anything we'd seen before.

A couple of other things we viewed on this trail were

Ais Trail - Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) Dragonfly
the Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) Dragonfly

Ais Trail - Pterocaulon pycnostachyum (Blackroot)
and Pterocaulon pycnostachyum which is more commonly known as Blackroot.

We started driving home and then apparently realized that we had not walked enough. 

Hawks Bluff Trail - Mourning Dove
So, we made a stop at the Hawks Bluff Trail which is a separate section of the Savannahs Preserve that we had visited previously.

Hawks Bluff Trail - Scenes
Midway on the trail you are brought to the unique freshwater savannas that occur just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Hawks Bluff Trail - Carya floridana scrub hickory plant, gall, midge
We spotted these galls on Carya floridana (Scrub Hickory)

Hawks Bluff Trail - Carya floridana scrub hickory plant, gall, midge (1)
Popped one open and

Hawks Bluff Trail - Carya floridana scrub hickory plant, gall, midge (2)
hundreds of these microscopic midges came out.

Hawks Bluff Trail - Grackle

Hawks Bluff - Chrysobalanus icaco Cocoplum Plant
Chrysobalanus icaco - Cocoplum Plant

Hawks Bluff Trail - Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker - somewhat expected

Hawks Bluff Trail - Native Lupine Sky-blue Lupinus diffusus (1)
Lupine in Florida - not expected

Hawks Bluff Trail - Native Lupine Sky-blue Lupinus diffusus (2)
We did not realize there was a Lupine that is Native to Florida.
We introduce you to... Sky-blue Lupine -  Lupinus diffusus

That completes our share of our three days of walks and is all that we have for now. 

We are quite busy right now preparing for our upcoming adventures.  More on that when we can...

Ais Trail - Scenes (2)
                                                                Have a sun-shiny day.