Nature Walk – Dog Days of Summer
The Dog Star or Sirius is at its rising this time of the year. And the weather is at its most humid and sticky. Although the temperature was cooler than what passes for “normal” around here… 79 F rather than a sticky 83F, my bare arms were still gleaming with sweat after a half mile walk. What can I say? It’s Florida. It’s summer and it’s sticky. Live with it.
The bird population has dwindled in both of my favorite and nearby wetlands. The wood storks have departed for unknown regions, perhaps further north. I have seen them at Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina. With their departure, the wetlands are much quieter. There still plenty of birds to be seen, mostly Anhingas, cormorants, herons, egrets, ducks, marsh hens, gallinules and some Ibises. The concentration of birds seen especially in the amazing Wakodahatchee Wetlands far outweighs what I was able to see in northern Florida during all my other explorations.
The Cow Egret is an interesting bird. I read that the young Cow Egret spend their first year with completely white feathers. This way, they blend in with the larger Snowy and Great White Egrets, especially when gathered in a large feeding group. Breeding Cow Egrets have beautiful golden feathers on their wings and heads. You learn something new every day if at all curious about this beautiful world.
Birds are not equipped with sweat glands, so on hot humid days, you’ll see some of them opening their beaks to cool off a bit, just like this Anhinga, who is also drying off from its latest fishing venture.
There are a lot of turtles in Florida, both salt water and fresh water species. About five different species of turtles live in the fresh water marshes like this one above. They hide in the duck weed, sometimes with just their nose poking up above the water.
It’s only 8:15 a.m. or so and the thunderheads are starting to build up. It’s all that tropical moisture coming up from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. And this year, the rainfall has been breaking some records. I’m still having a hard time finding an actual record of rainfall to date, but it is way more than last year during the drought. It rained all last weekend. We also got caught in an intense thunderstorm on Tuesday while driving through Boca Raton. It’s really fun driving through puddles when you can hardly see the road in front of the car!
With a loud croak, this Great Blue Heron was flushed out of the weeds and landed on the railing almost in front of me. I paused to watch it for a few minutes. They’re really a BIG bird, although gangly with their long legs.
This gallinule is one of the most colorful birds in Florida, showing a nice display here as it is concentrating on grooming. Just look at that iridescent turquoise and blue coloring! This bird also has a very loud vocalization during nesting season. It was quiet today.
A white Ibis, finding a temporary perch in one of the old dead trees placed in the marsh for just that purpose.
And did you know that both Green Cay and Wakodahatchee Wetlands are run by the Water Department and that the property belonging to Green Cay was originally a pepper farm? The land was donated by the family who owned the farm. Today, these wetlands are completely surrounded by gated communities, the farms of the past long gone. Florida has changed greatly in the last twenty years. Just ask a native.
Just a little natural color to end the report from the crape myrtles in the parking lot.
Blessings to all and enjoy your upcoming weekend!
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