Friday, April 6, 2018

This Is No Joke

We Did It! 

As of April 1st, we have resumed calling Annie 'home' and returned to our wandering ways.  Yes, we are on the road again!

The first stop... in the spirit of our typical driving habits, is a full thirty miles from home. 

1 Arrived
Already relaxing at Dupui WMA in Indiantown, FLA.  Note: we've got some new 'baggage' on the back.

In the morning, we get nice shade from Annie and in the afternoon we move the chairs to the other side where we sit under 'our tree' in blissfully cool shade for the rest of the day.

We aren't going to lie.  It was pretty darn exhausting moving from a sticks and bricks back into Annie. 

2 Chillin and Nappin (2)
So, on Day One some major napping and relaxing was in order.

2 Chillin and Nappin (3)
Just enjoying the view...

2 Chillin and Nappin (4)
... the view

2 Chillin and Nappin (5)
We were not the only ones who thought a nap was a good idea on this particular day.

Soon it was time for an afternoon walkabout. 

3 Face Tree
Yes, we are happy to be back to our travelin' ways.  Darlene said, "All is now right in the world."

4 Halloween Pendant Dragonfly
It is only April but the Halloween Pennants are out (Halloween Pennant Dragonflies, that is - Celithemis eponina).

4 green grasshopper
Just me and my shadow...

4  Skipper Butterfly
A Fiery Skipper Butterfly not looking very fiery.

We did pretty well packing the van until we got closer to departure. 

Then things just started getting thrown into bags and piled on the bed and the floor and nothing was put away.  So, there was some van-re-organization to be done once we arrived at Dupui. 

5 A Van Organization
Don't know what we'd do without all of these awesome bags from Nicole's Mom!  They sure make organizing easy.

Our stroll on the evening of Day One revealed a few things.  One of them was that there was at least one Barred Owl living at Dupui.  A lifer awaiting a viewing.  How very exciting! 

The other was that our bikes could easily make it down the trail from our place to the Auto / Bike Tour Road. 

So, on Day Two we set out for a ride. 

6 A Bike Ride
We ended up going five miles on this ride and saw only one car.  It was a good intro ride with many bumps.

Some new things we saw were...

6 blue bee
This Blue Bee which we believe is the Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria)

6 Chrysler Flower
The rare Chrysler Flower (Hee Hee)

6 skipper Butterfly
Another Skipper Butterfly - This one is believed to be the Southern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia otho) which if confirmed would be a new butterfly for us.

6 Grasshopper laying eggs
The American Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca americana, laying eggs in the sand.  We have never seen this before!

6 Dung Beetle (4)
X marks the spot for the Dung Beetles.  They are so cool!

6 Dung Beetle (2)
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Keep Them Dookies Rollin' ...

6 Dung Beetle (3)
Just look at the shovel shaped head and those front claws which do all of the gripping during the poop rolling.

They were fascinating to watch and we spent a good while watching them form their perfect ball of dung then rolling it up to twenty feet away before choosing a perfect spot to hide it.  The chosen spots of the two we watched were under a bunch of pine needles and grass and under a pine cone.

6 Dung Beetle (5)
Now you see it...

6 Dung Beetle (7)

6 Dung Beetle (8)
Gone.  Beetle and ball are under the cone.  Now eggs will be laid and the ball will serve as primary food source.
It was amazing to watch them dig their way under these items and then little by little work the dirt away so that they could bring their tasty treat into the hideout.

6 Dung Beetle (9)
Near the end of our observations this colorful one flew in, landed upside down, righted itself and then promptly took refuge under the big pile of horse poo.  Not sure what it had in mind but we remarked that if we were to be a dung beetle we'd rather roll it than live under it.  It was so fast that Nicole had to keep pulling it out with a stick just to get a photo.  This is the Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle or Phanaeus vindex. 

There are three types of Dung Beetles:  Rollers, Tunnelers and Dwellers.  The first one we showed you is a Roller and the Rainbow Scarab is a tunneler which explains why it was so intent on going below the poo.

On the evening of Day Two we decided to take a walk around sunset to see if we could spot the Barred Owl (Strix Varia).

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (1)
We didn't just spot THE Barred Owl...

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (2)
we spotted TWO Barred Owls!

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (3)
This one was quite interested in Darlene

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (4)
and she was quite interested in return.

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (5)
Our first Bird Lifer of this new adventure!

7 Barred Owl Strix varia (6)
Don't forget my good side...

A few other winged things we saw during our stay were

7 Red-headed Woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-headed Woodpeckers - Melanerpes erythrocephalus

8 Common Ground Dove Columbia passerina
the Common Ground Dove (Columbia passerina) which up until this experience has not been such a common bird in our opinion

7 Red-shouldered Hawk (2)
and the Red-shouldered Hawk (this one was apparently in the mood to show off).

7 Red-shouldered Hawk (1)

We had plans to complete the Auto / Bike Tour Road after spending a day getting some projects done on Annie and thought it good to rest ourselves and the bikes.  But as evening approached on our third day it seemed like a good time to at least take a short bike ride to see what critters were stirring.  So we did around five miles during wonderfully cool and bug free evening weather.

9 Deer Mammal
Do you see that we are being watched?

9 Deer Mammal

These flowers were an interesting sighting.  Around forty of them had sprung up in a freshly burned area.

9 Flower (1)
We're pretty sure these are Atamasco Rain-lily - Zephyranthes atamasca.

9 Flower (2)
This beautiful flower is native to Florida.

9 Flower (3)

Finally, on Day Four, it was time to complete the remaining section of the Auto / Bike Tour Road.  There were ten miles left and a warm afternoon expected.  So, we left bright and early while the dew was still present.

10a Spider Webs in Dew (3)
It made for some amazing spider web sightings.

10a Spider Webs in Dew (4)

10a Spider Webs in Dew (5)

After several days of continuously flushing Northern Bobwhite's while walking or biking, we finally got a shot of this very shy LIFER!

10 Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus
Can you see him?  HA HA  Exactly!  Now you know our struggles.  We'll help you out now.

10 Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)

10 Black Swallowtail Butterfly (2)
We saw a beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly enjoying a Thistle for breakfast.

During our time on the trails we had many a large snake encounter. 

Snake Reptile
They would make it halfway across the road, spot us and then take off back in the direction they had come from.

10 Snake versus Bike (1)
But this little booger was not backing down.

10 Snake versus Bike (2)
He even stuck his tongue out at Nicole as she inched closer.

10 Bald Cypress Swamp (1)
Near the end of the road is a boardwalk to a Bald Cypress Swamp.

10 Bald Cypress Swamp (3)
It was a wonderful spot to take a rest and have a snack.

While we were there we were visited by a Carolina Wren and a new friend

10 Marsh Rabbit Mammal Sylvilagus palustris
the Marsh Rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris).

The highlight of the trip though was the nest of a Red-shouldered Hawk with two fluffy, white little ones in it. 

10 Red-shouldered Hawk Bird Babies (1)
I'm done eating, think I'll have a look around.

10 Red-shouldered Hawk Bird Babies (3)
Where did Mama and Papa go?

10 Red-shouldered Hawk Bird Babies (2)

10 Red-shouldered Hawk Bird Babies (4)

And, that's a wrap on the highlights of our time at Dupui WMA in Indiantown, FLA.

99 Happy Face Rock
             From where we sit, our latest adventure is off to a really great start!