A Trip to Florida 2022

Greeting Nature-Led Friends!

Suprise! Last week I was in Florida! I have now returned to my boggy delight that is the Pacific Northwest, but not without bringing you all some sunny pictures of interest, education and ominous warnings about where not to swim.

Footprint in sand

As one of my favorite Tom Waits songs goes, “We made feet for children’s shoes.” This one is now a youth size 5.

Swamplilly Spp unknown

This plant is dressed for a party.

Palm roots

I scared this Tolkienesque palm tree Ent from walking away.

Bleeding Glory-bower

Another party plant having a ball!

Eeek, a spider!

Golden Silk Spider

The biggest spider I have ever seen in my life in the wild! It’s as big as my hand, and my hands are not small! Consequently, I just read this article from National Geographic about another similar spider that is making its home on the Eastern shores of the United States, the Joro spider (similar to this one, but more cold-tolerant.) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/these-large-invasive-spiders-could-spread-throughout-us

Swim with Gators? No Thank you.

Nope, definitely not going in that water.

Maybe when you go on vacation you like to relax, but to me, relaxing is a foreign concept I just can’t seem to gasp. It is my curious nature to always be on the prowl for new learning experiences. As part of my enjoyment in traveling to new places is to support the local work of fellow nature lovers. Here are two places I like to support every time I go to Florida:

Loggerhead Marinelife Center https://marinelife.org/

This turtle rescue organization is currently going through an expansion and remodel. There was only one sick turtle there at the time of our visit. I would assume current sick and injured turtles are being cared for elsewhere.

Turtle Hatchling diorama

Cast of Turtle skeleton

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary https://www.buschwildlife.org/

Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata

Sleepy young fox, everyone quietly say, “aaaaah”, so cute!

Cypress Knees

I love the phrase “cypress knees.” I don’t know why this one in the foreground looks like it’s giving me the finger though. Rude!

That’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed the pictures! Have a great rest of your week!

Do you have a favorite picture?

How Habitats Shape Our Habits

Native Douglas Squirrel – This is Doug, 8th of their name

I’ve been thinking about how the places we live in influence our habits. For example, where I live; in a suburban neighborhood, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, we have a high concentration of deer, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, cougars, foxes, skunks, porcupine, rats, mice and squirrels. I’m probably still missing an animal or two, like rare sightings of wolves and American badgers. There’s a funny meme about comparing European and American badgers. It’s basically, “The European Badger looks like it wants to invite you over for tea. The American badger looks like it’s going to beat you up in a dark alley and steal all your money.” Seems fairly accurate to me. Our winged neighbors include three types of owls, two types of hawks, two types of eagles, two types of ravens, the American Crow, a couple of woodpeckers, and a variety of smaller birds.

Raccoon young

 Due to the powerful, inquisitive, and highly evolved sniffers on our wild neighbors we wash our recycling and our garbage to reduce the temptation of smells for the black bears in particular. However, many a crow or posse of raccoons have also torn apart an unattended garbage bag. I once saw a construction worker put his fast-food lunch bag on the hood of his truck while he reached in to grab something else. In that same moment a crow swooped down to steal the bag of food. The bag ripped spilling fries and burger bits all over the road.

Oh yes, and we have Moose in Washington State too! They’re not all in Canada. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about running into moose in the Puget Sound region where I live now but growing up North of Spokane we would occasionally get moose wandering into town during winter. One time riding the school bus home from high school a bus driver reported seeing a moose over the CB radio. Since our route was close to it, our bus driver detoured from the route hoping to see it. He went for a few blocks but we didn’t see it so he went back to our route. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I’m glad the driver didn’t try to make a big long adventure of it.

We don’t need to do anything special to prepare for summers around here, but our winters consists of strong winds, heavy rain and snow in the mountains. At the end of summer, we pull in any outdoor furniture or toys that might have been laying out in the yard or on the patio all summer. Some people pull their barbeque into a covered area or purchase a cover and keep it in place if it’s too heavy to move. Not everyone has a barbeque of course, but they are particularly popular in the suburban American landscape. This too can be a bear attractant. If the grill isn’t cleaned after its cooled and you wait too long a black bear might come along and clean it for you!

Yearling Buck 2019, note the fencing around the young cherry tree in the background.

Fall is the best time to plant trees here. They can usually become fairly well established before the first frost and because our winters are predominately rainy, you rarely have to water your new plantings. Small trees do need to be staked to help them keep from getting blown over and if you’re in an area with a dense deer population, chicken wire or other fencing is needed to keep the deer from eating the young buds and leaves in the spring or it being used as an antler rubbing post by the bucks. From my personal, the bucks prefer young cypress trees as their preferred cologne. A new buck has appeared in my yard and I need to get more long stakes to protect some of my new trees and shrubs.

The state of Washington encompasses most primary biomes within its borders. We’re only missing Tundra, but we do have Alpine and Subalpine regions. I currently live in the temperate forest, but I grew up in the shrub-steppe area. South around the Hanford Nuclear reservation is desert. The northwest corner, the Olympic peninsula is our rainforest.

Rabbit young, native rabbit.

Here is some fun localized humor for you:

 “Hummingbear” feeders = Hummingbird feeders

“Bearseed feeders”, “ratfeeders”, “squirrelfeeders” = Birdseed Feeders (Most people will try 3-5 different “whatever”-proof feeders before giving up. A birdbath is a much easier way to attract birds.)

= a “squirrel poker” = A pocketknife or any small knife (<6in.) because a knife at that length isn’t very threatening

“Widowmaker” = military slang for a submarine, but in the forest it’s a large broken branch hanging up high in a tall tree. They tend to blow down during the winter winds and can impale a person, car or home.

“Alligator or gator strip” = Tire strips along the freeway. We don’t have alligators in WA state.

Caught on a neighbors wildlife camera a few years ago. The one wild neighbor I never want to meet!

Cougars on Wildlife Cam, Mother and Juvenile Son. Neighbors image, not mine.

What geographical region do you live in?

What special precautions do you have to take in your daily life?

No Howling

It’s a busy week so I’ll leave you with a few pictures from a local zoo. I have mixed feelings about zoos. It allows people to see living animals which is cool and you hope that it leads to people wanting to protect the animals and their habitats through conservation methods, but do the costs outweigh the benefits to the lives of these animals? Probably not. I’ll keep my refrain beyond that.

The unwritten part: It’s also meaningless and irritating to the zoo staff and other visitors.

Run free in your dreams, sweet wolves.