Saturday, May 26, 2007

Moths need attention

I am paying more attention to moths. Moths are numerous, mostly useful or just part of the ecology, which is ultimately useful. However, they are more secretive, mostly nocturnal even though they can be found by disturbance in the daytime and they are generally not as colorful as butterflies. They are also more numerous and identification is a challenge, I think. I looked at Peterson's moth guide in the library and it's like trying to sort out skippers in some cases. Nevertheless, I want to give it a try by photographing the species I can. Two elegant species I have missed photographing, one because I didn't have a camera with me and one because it escaped before I could get a photo are the Scarlet Wasp Moth and an unidentified species that had an orange body, black wings with white tips on the forewings. I haven't been able to find it in the Peterson guide or on a moth web site I found.

Anyway, I want to start posting the moth images I can get here and I'll see how it goes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cryptic reptiles

Two species I have recorded here--once--are Gopher Tortoise and Florida Scrub Lizard. I have found a number of abandoned Gopher Tortoise burrows, but they were extirpated, probably by human predation. I had one brief visit a few months ago, but the tortoise dug its burrow, hissed at me a couple of times and then disappeared. I found a fresh, or at least freshly reexcavated, burrow back in the woods recently, but I suspect that may be where an Armadillo is living. I saw a Florida Scrub Lizard early on in my survey work, but haven't seen one in some time. The place is so overgrown it may not be hospitable. Plus, there are so many Cuban brown anoles there's too much competition for food or space. Nevertheless, I'll continue to look.

Skink of a different color

I finished my Sand Skink board survey in the south tract over the weekend. I had hits on 40 out of 76 boards. However, the significant find was a Peninsular mole skink twice at one of the monitoring stations. It had a red tail instead of a blue one that you find on the Blue-tailed mole skink, which I have also seen here. I was told they are rarely seen, so I feel fortunate.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sand skinks, praying mantises and more

Today's visit by Ridge Audubon was a great success. I ended up leading two field trips because one family showed up at the wrong place and one person was late. It was great. The first group saw lots of flowers, but the second trip saw a praying mantis on Britton's bear grass and a live Sand Skink under one of the monitoring boards. Bonamia and three species of Ascelpias (see earlier post) were blooming. So was Yellow Colic Root, which was lovely. I'll post photos later. I think seeing live critters, especially relatively seldom seen species, such as the Praying Mantis at right created some interest from the kids.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More visitors coming

Ridge Audubon is coming Saturday for a field trip. Field trips from the Lake Wales area have been planned, but never executed. This could offer something for them to see how the other Ridge lives. I'm going scouting for interesting stuff today.

Mysterious valleys

One of the interesting features of the preserve are the small dips in the middle of the the scrub. They appear to be manmade. Nothing or little grows in them, but they make interesting relief in the landscape. It seems a remote spot to remove so little dirt. The larger pit on the edge is less mysterious. It has all the appearance of small borrow pit. However, I have to consider that at one time the terrain may have been more open and it was easier to traverse. I recently found a pile of concrete fairly deep inside, telling me the place wasn't always quite so thickly vegetated.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Industrial-strength preservation

I happened to look at the county growth map today and discovered that the preserve is classified as industrial (BPC1 and BPC2 for those of you hip to that kind of thing). A map change is in order to let the world know a wildlife preserve lives here.