Tag Archives: Southwest Florida

Seining on Lover’s Key, Florida

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06182011648-Lovers-Key-Real-FloridaDirectly after we finished up with the Field Trip On Estero Bay, we all got into our cars and drove down to Lover’s Key State Park for some more nature geek fun. First we all congregated in a shady area, settled in at picnic benches and ate our bag lunches. Then we proceeded down the path to the beach to go seining.

“Seine” is not just a river in France. A seine is a net that is used to capture small fish and other aquatic life. The seines that we used on this field trip look like a volleyball net strung between two poles. There are floats at the top of the net and weights at the bottom. I take one pole, you take the other, we stretch the net between us and then we walk through the water, slowly trawling toward the beach. Then, quickly, before someone perishes, we scoop up what we found and place it in tanks for observation. When we’re done learning, we set the critters free.

Lover’s Key is a Florida state park that is comprised of several islands/keys. The Bonita Beach Causeway cuts through it coming down from Fort Myers Beach. This proved to be an excellent site for studying the Southwest Florida coastal environment.

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PATH TO THE BEACH ON LOVER’S KEY

Lovers Key is covered with many different species of plant life. In true geek fashion, I am starting to find the biodiversity of nature to be endlessly fascinating, so I was happy to crawl all over the place with my camera after the expedition had ended. Here’s a shady nook close to the causeway entrance with a path down to the beach. Notice we are standing under the dense shade of a cluster of trees that include seagrapes; the branches overhead were heavy with fruit.

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CAUTION: SHOES REQUIRED

A different path to the beach here leads over a wooden bridge that spans a small bayou of sorts.

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PROTECTED AREA ON LOVER’S KEY

This is part of the bayou over which the little foot bridge crosses. Our instructor had wanted to investigate and observe life in the bayou as well as off the beach; however, it’s been marked as a “keep out” zone now, so we had to content ourselves with craning our necks over the side of the bridge to see what we could see. And of course, we all wore shoes 😉

Look at those clouds pop, huh? The beauty of the Southwest Florida sky is endless.

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VIEWING THE BEACH FROM THE BAYOU

Here’s a view across the bayou toward the beach, Big Carlos Pass and the hi-rise condos beyond. Note that there are plenty of hidey-places along the shore of the bayou; not sure what nests there but futher back in the protected area, I would not be surprised if there were some gators lurking now and then.

Funny thing about protected areas; in addition to the critters, they might be protecting YOU, too! So always take heed of the signs, OK? I don’t want to hear that you became lunch!

06182011650-Lovers-Key-Blue-CrabA LOVER’S KEY BLUE CRAB | Our instructors equipped us with plastic tanks which we filled with salt water from the beach in preparation for examining our finds. These tanks had “bubblers” attached to keep the water aerated and moving.

Our first seining attempt brought up a couple of crabs. Can’t really tell what the one submerged is – speckled, maybe? but on the right is a male blue crab. Normally, you turn them over to see if they are male or female. The female will have a marking underneath that is rounded like the US capital dome, whereas the male will have more of an obelisk-shaped marking, like the Washington Monument.

In the case of blue crabs, however, the female’s claws are tipped in bright orange. I don’t see any orange on this one, so it’s a male. Floating behind him are his sectioned “swimmies” – swimming paddles that are attached to the rear leg.

I don’t have any other worthy photos of the critters we saw, which included several types of fishes, some snails and a sea horse! It’s hard to photograph them in the tanks with the brilliant sunshine blasting them and the water distorting them. Also, I need to solve the problem of handling my camera while my hands are salty, sandy, wet, or any combination thereof.

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SEA OATS

After the seining expedition was done, I stuck around to take a few photos and find some plants for identification. Sea oats are one of the types of grasses that grow in the dunes. They are perennial and multiply by means of underground rhizomes. They can grow to be six feet tall or more! You’re not allowed to collect wild sea oats because they play a critical role in helping to keep the dunes together.

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INKBERRY PLANT


This is one of two tropical plants that look similar and are often confused with one another. The inkberry (pictured) and it’s counterpart, the beach naupaka, have pretty similar configurations, including the berries while green and the flowers, which look as though someone had pressed them in between the pages of a book. However, the leaves of the beach naupaka curl while the inkberry leaves do not. Inkberry fruits become very dark, looking like purple/black grapes; the ones pictured here will mature that way, while a beach naupaka’s berries will turn white.

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STRANGLER FIG


This is a strangler fig; looks like the “host” has long since succumbed to the treachery of its “guest”! These ficus trees are kind of like those guys in Corporate America who get to the top by crawling up the backs of their colleagues. Stranglers germinate on a host tree, sending roots down and branches up. In an effort to support their climb toward sunlight, they “strangle” their host. Here we see the hollow made where the host used to stand; you can see a bit of bark remains, but the rest has rotted away.

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TROLLEY TO BONITA BEACH


The beach trolley trundles its way across Big Carlos Pass. I like the foot/bike section on the bridge. It made me feel somewhat protected even as the vehicles went zipping by. These trolleys are a pretty efficient way to get around this area, especially during “season” when there are too many cars and not enough road down this way. There’s even a starting point on the mainland – park your car at the Winn Dixie on Summerlin Road and in a little bit, a trolley will come by to collect you.

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LOVER’S KEY FROM THE BRIDGE


This is the scene when you climb up the hill from the parking lot up to the foot/bike path on the bridge. You can see the bayou off to the left, above the blue truck, and the beach where we did our seining and discovery of cool critters.

Between the boat trip on Estero Bay and then this segment at the beach, everyone was some combination of hot, tired, wet, salty, sweaty, a little sunburnt and very happy by the time we were through.

I proceeded to Sanibel Island after this, let myself into a friend’s house to take a shower and when she got home from a hunting expedition of her own (shopping!), we went out for dinner with some other friends on the island.

Life in Southwest Florida is GOOD. :)

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Dolphin chase on Estero Bay

© Copyright 2011 | http://MyMobileAdventures.com | CLICK any photo for a larger view

Here’s some bonus footage from the my field trip on Estero Bay with the Florida Master Naturalist program here in Lee County, Florida. One of our classmates made up a song about the joys of Estero Bay and the dolphins seemed to love it. They ended up chasing our boat for a few minutes, leaping in and out of the wake as we sang our way toward the dock. Check it out in this video, below – Email Subscribers: if you do not see a video posted below this sentence, please CLICK through to the blog.


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Field Trip On Estero Bay, conclusion

© Copyright 2011 | http://MyMobileAdventures.com | CLICK any photo for a larger view

IMG_5734-Estero-Bay-NO-WAKEToday we’re continuing our exploration of wildlife and habitats in Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve with my Florida Master Naturalist class (Coastal Systems module).

As mentioned in my previous post, Estero Bay is very shallow. Sunlight penetration allows for the growth of sea grasses (they’re green, they need sunlight for photosynthesis), and sea grasses provide an excellent nursery for marine life, which in turn provides excellent feeding grounds for birds and bigger marine life.

See how it works? :)

If you speed through and your prop tears up the grasses, then you’re destroying habitat and the whole ecosystem is compromised. So, always pay attention to the “no wake” and “low wake” signs – they are there for a VERY good reason.


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“DIVE-BOMB BEACH”

As we rounded a corner and emerged from under the Big Carlos Pass bridge, we saw tall high-rise buildings standing sentry over a stretch of unraked beach – kind of unusual, since beachfront high-rise residents usually want to see an unblemished expanse of sand, not dune vegetation. This beach is unraked because it is a bird breeding ground. While we were floating out here discussing the habitat, we saw two people haplessly wander into the breeding ground and get dive-bombed by the birds defending their territory. It was a perfect example of this type of protective, territorial behavior. The people ran for cover; I think they were probably totally innocent and didn’t realize where they were.

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JET-SKIERS ON TOUR IN BIG CARLOS PASS

We could hear the leader of this tour speaking to the group; they might have been eco-tourists too, just like us. It’s actually fortunate that we took this ride in June. During “season” here in Southwest Florida, these waters would have been pretty well jammed with all sorts of recreationists.

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FLYING IN ESTERO BAY ?!?!?!!?

No sooner had we taken leave of the jet skiers and headed out of Big Carlos Pass then we saw this … I’m not sure what it is but it looks like fun! It’s a regular water sports and recreational paradise down here in Southwest Florida.

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TRI-COLORED HERON

I believe we are now heading into what our intrepid boat captains referred to as “Spoon Lagoon”, the location of which we swore never to reveal. I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you…. It’s called “Spoon Lagoon” for reasons that will become obvious soon. This is a tricolored heron. You might be thinking, “Hey wait a minute, didn’t she just tell us that kind of bird was a little blue heron?”. Nope, I didn’t. See the white underbelly? Not a little blue!

 

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RED MANGROVE ROOTS

Here’s a sight I love, although I haven’t quite figured out why yet. This tangled mess is actually a the prop root system of the red mangrove tree. It’s a vast and intricate network, like a very complicated work of architecture or sculpture. I just get lost looking at it, and not unpleasantly so. Well, as it turns out, the prop roots ARE somewhat of an architectural feature. They serve as braces for the tree, to hold it up. They also collect and hold sand and silt, so an island forms under and around the mangrove. Finally, they pipe air down to the actual roots of the tree. Pretty useful, huh?

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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON

I feel a little sorry for this bird. It doesn’t have any neck to speak of, and it must feel a bit dowdy as compared to the other, more graceful-necked herons. This was the first time I’d seen the black-crowned variety; I’ve had a close encounter with a yellow-crowned night heron before, years ago in Ding Darling. It was doing yoga and smiling at me. Good times, good times 😉

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ROSEATE SPOONBILL and WHITE IBIS

And now we come to the rhyme and reason of naming “Spoon Lagoon” – it’s the roseate spoonbill, which our captain has known to hang out in this particular spot in the bay. Along with our spoony friend is a white ibis.

The spoonbill uses it’s bill to sweep along the mud for delectable morsels to nom-nom-nom, while the ibis has a bill more appropriate for probing down into the mud.

One of the things this class is teaching me is that my camera is woefully inadequate for these purposes. Perhaps Santa Claus will do something about that…

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THE NESTING POLE

Sights such as this one are common in Florida. As habitat is lost, the osprey often improvise, as we have seen previously with the nest on top of a channel marker sign. They are also frequently given a perch like this one. You see these platforms a lot along a certain stretch of the I-4 interstate, where the birds had been building on poles close to dangerous power lines. The chicks would fall out and fry themselves. Conservation groups come along and build these platforms to encourage a safer location for the nests. I’ve also seen these man-made perches back home on Long Island, specifically in the area of the Connetquot River in Oakdale, NY. It’s kind of cool – like building a bird house, only open-air.

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REDDISH EGRET

This reddish egret’s head nearly blends in with the reeds from far away. We recognized him by his lively hunting technique – he flaps and hops and jumps, chasing his prey all over the shallows. We enjoyed watching his antics :)

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ESTERO BAY SKYSCRAPERS


I am in love with the Southwest Florida sky. Clouds are endlessly fascinating to watch as they morph and change before your eyes. I am so lucky to live here, and I know it.

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THE FRIENDSHIP SENTRY ON ESTERO BAY

Our friend the cormorant strikes a regal pose atop the manatee sculpture that sits on a sign,which says: “The basis of environmental recovery lay in oneness with creation and with ourselves. Enjoy it.” The sign below it says, “Friendship Sentry”. I guess the cormorant is taking his job seriously!

This pretty much concludes the Estero Bay field trip. It was a wonderful excursion, a great way to spend a Saturday morning, and I highly recommend my classmates and boat captains for this trip, Good Time Charters. They are knowledgeable, skilled and generous tour leaders and no, they didn’t pay me to say this LOL 😉

Fear not – there are more Florida Master Naturalist adventures to document here! NEXT TIME: Lovers Key State Park !!! :)
BR> 

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Field Trip on Estero Bay, Part 1

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Snook Bight Marina on Fort Myers BeachOn June 18th 2011, my Coastal Systems Module class in the Florida Master Naturalist program embarked upon their second field trip. This time, we started from Snook Bight Marina on Fort Myers Beach and hopped aboard a sturdy vessel as the guests of Good Time Charters. We were fortunate to have Captain Mike, Captain Cristina and Captain Dwight all in our class, and found them to be excellent and knowledgeable guides for our “three hour tour… a three hour tour….” We had a beautiful sunshiny day for this adventure and the wildlife did not disappoint. There was some speculation that Captain Mike paid them all to show up 😉 Well, if that’s true then it only serves to prove what clever wildlife tour guides those people at Good Time Charters really are!

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve is the first aquatic preserve designated in the state of Florida (1966). The bay is extremely productive and contains elements of historic (and even pre-historic) significance, some of them submerged. A wide diversity of marine life starts out in the grass beds “nursery”. The environment is also ideal for rookeries, colonies of nesting birds who breed and raise their young on the many islands that dot the bay. Here are a few of the critters we managed to encounter on this adventure.

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LEAST TERNS

Least terns are picky about who hangs around their nests. If you walk through their nesting area, they will dive-bomb your head. We would witness this phenomenon later in the trip near Big Carlos Pass.

 

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BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN

Hard to catch these guys in action; you see them, get the camera on the spot where they WERE and they have already submerged, only to resurface somewhere your focus ISN’T. One of my many field guide books calls them “toothed whales” – as opposed to baleen whales, who have food filters instead of teeth.

 

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WILSON’S PLOVER (maybe…)

I think this might be a Wilson’s Plover but I can’t be sure because I cannot really see what color the legs are; if they are tan, then it is probably Wilson’s. They like to eat fiddler crabs.

 

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DOUBLE-BREASTED CORMORANT

The way to tell a cormorant from an anhinga is to examine the beak. Does it look like it’s good for spearing, or for tearing? This guy, looking very statuesque, has a hooked beak, so it’s good for tearing – and that means he is a cormorant.

 

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BROWN PELICAN and SLOW DOWN!

A brown pelican in breeding plumage (note the chestnut brown on the neck) stands sentry over the low wake zone. I read in the news this week that there’s a certain budding political party objecting to low wake zones, claiming that they elevate wildlife over people. I can only roll my eyes at such arrogant, self-centered ignorance. :roll:

 

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OSPREY NEST, IMPROVISED

Adaptive behavior – in the absence of tall trees, osprey will commonly build their nests on man-made structures such as light poles, tall buildings and yes, channel markers like this one. Saw lots of this type of adaptation in Rookery Bay too.

 

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BIRDING and RESPECTING THEIR SPACE

While observing wildlife, always remember to maintain a respectful distance. You don’t want to get close enough to interrupt their natural behaviors. Another good reason to keep your distance – if you’re in a boat, you risk running aground! We were advised that if you fall overboard in Estero Bay, the first thing you should do to save yourself is… stand up! It’s only a couple-three feet deep out there, which is part of what makes it a great breeding ground. Those are brown pelicans on the far sandbar, an osprey flapping around taking a bath in the middle, and an egret (can’t tell which – from the “fuzzy” head, I’ll guess snowy egret) hanging out in the foreground. I see another egret behind the prop roots, too – looks taller, my vote is great egret.

 

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LITTLE BLUE HERON

The class on the boat spent a bit of time trying to identify this bird from afar. Sometimes the colors can be deceptive in light reflected off the water. In the end, we determined via binoculars, zoom lenses and getting a bit closer that he was indeed a little blue heron.

 

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FLOCK O’ PELICANS

Here’s a closer look at the flock of brown pelicans at rest on a sand bar.

 

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BIG CARLOS PASS and THE PARADE OF CLOUDS

We’re out of the no wake zone now and speeding toward the bridge that spans Big Carlos Pass. I fell in love with that line of cloud formations. They look like they are marching over the bridge toward Bonita 😉

 


Just under a minute of some cruising on the bay – feel the wind in your hair! :)

NEXT TIME: More cruising, more critters and a surprise musical performance!

 


 

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Bowditch Point Field Trip – conclusion

© Copyright 2011 | http://MyMobileAdventures.com | CLICK any photo for a larger view

06112011594-Bowditch-Point-BoardwalkThis is the final installment of my first field trip with the Florida Master Naturalist class (Coastal Systems Module). Last time, we explored a few critter encounters at Bowditch Point. Now we’re going to continue on our journey over the hill, through the dunes and onto the beach.

The day was getting pretty warm, and a few of the plants had an “aromatic” (translation: unpleasant!) odor. I believe it was the plant described to us as a “stopper” plant, used by the Calusa natives once upon a time to make a purgative drink.


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The Estero Island Garden Club created a butterfly garden at the top of the hill.

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There’s a statue of a child fishing in the butterfly garden at Bowditch Point Regional Park. I got a kick out of the fact that they use a real branch as a fishin’ pole :)

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I’ve written of the EPCOT mystery shoes before, as well as a few non-Disney pairs of mystery shoes. But here’s a new pair – the Bowditch Point Mystery Shoes! They were on a bench near the butterfly garden while our guide was walking us through, and still there an hour later when I came through to take some pictures. Ya gotta wonder…

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There are a lot of coontie plants at Bowditch Point Regional Park. I believe this one is a female. The cones are shaped differently for a male. No I’m not kidding – male and female! This is called a dioecious plant – that’s Greek for “two houses”, and it means that the plant is either a male or a female. The Seminoles dried and ground the roots into flour and made it into bread. I’ve heard it referred to as arrowroot too, but there’s another plant called that… confusing, the world of botany! I guess that’s why people like to use the Latin names. There are no mistakes when you stick to the Latin names. So I’m told!

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You’ve heard of it all your life and now you’ve met one – it’s the prickly pear cactus! A few years back, I saw some of these fruits for sale in Publix but didn’t have the guts to try them. One of our classmates said he’s tried them and he felt great after a few days of eating them – I think they have anti-oxidant properties. Anyhow, the tortoises love ’em so they can’t be all bad, right?

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Railroad vine is related to morning glories and so is their behavior – they are open during the day and close up once night falls. The Latin name, ipomea pes-caprae, relates to the shape of the leaves. Google Translator is telling me “foot she goat”, so I guess the leaves are supposed to look like a girl goat’s hooves (so what do a boy goat’s hooves look like, then?).

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Sea grapes grow in a bunch but you can’t really pick ’em that way. They don’t mature/ripen as a bunch; they are individuals and each decides in its own time when it is ready to be ripe. That’s why you generally see only some missing from a cluster; the other ones weren’t yet ready to eat!

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This tree is called the strangler fig. It’s less than 20 years old and stands pretty much on the crest of the hill, spreading shade in a wide swath. Migratory birds like to stop and rest in this tree, for the fruits are nice to eat. The seeds are spread around via bird poop. Sometimes, the poop lands on another tree, where the new baby strangler latches onto and eventually envelops the host. As you can see, they have a pretty aggressive root system, too. I find it funny that one of my Florida landscape plant books identifies companion plants for the strangler; I’m fairly certain it’s just going to kill all its friends so I’m not getting the point…..

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Well, here’s at least one friend that the strangler won’t bother to strangle – a coontie grows low and spread out in the considerable shade. Our guide pointed out how different it looks from the ones in full sunlight. It definitely looks to me as though it is reaching around to find some sun.

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This plant has so many names, where do we begin? Chinese lantern, common ground-cherry, husk tomato (I’m told it tastes like a tomatillo), sand ground-cherry, bladder cherry (it floats)… a lot depends on where you live, I guess, when it comes to common names. Gopher tortoises like to eat these, too. I guess it makes sense – it’s certainly low enough for a tortoise to munch upon.

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These daisy relatives are called dune sunflowers. They pop up basically everywhere in the coastal system and they flower year-round, with just a bit of a break in the winter time. They are also related to Indian blanket flowers.

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Because of the way the tides flow around this area, Bowditch Point gets eroded and the sand is carted away by the sea. Periodically, the government will decide that “renourishment” is in order. The get a barge and a bunch of pipe, park the barge out in the bay and pipe in sand from “out there” somewhere. On the one hand, it’s intrusive to the environment and counter to what Mother Nature seems to want. On the other hand, Lee County is pretty dependent upon tourist dollars and cannot afford to have any of their public beaches get washed away. I checked this out pretty thoroughly before determining that the pipe was NOT bringing in quantities of good shells. Then I headed for the parking lot.

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There’s a shower and a foot sprayer behind me; to either side are little picnic areas and pretty flowers. It was a long morning and it was getting REALLY hot. I decided I was ravenously hungry and proceeded to meet friends at Jerry’s on Sanibel for lunch before heading home. Thus endeth the first field trip – but fear not, there’s more where this came from – stay tuned!

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Photo Friday: Sharp Focus

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Some more “messing around” with the macro focus on my Nokia N97. Man, I LOVE this phone :)

These are TINY flowers on a plant found at Bowditch Point Regional Park on Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The people we saw photographing these identified them merely as “heliotropium” so I had a tough time isolating it even with a bazillion books at my disposal. Finally found it at this site: www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx… – and found it interesting that on the east side of South Florida, they are yellow, but here on the west coast, they are white, as pictured. So it’s actually a Pineland Heliotrope but I’ve also seen googled pictures identify it as a “seaside” heliotrope.

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Critter Encounters at Bowditch Point

© Copyright 2011 | http://MyMobileAdventures.com | CLICK any photo for a larger view

06112011610-Bowditch-wildlife-signageThis post will pick up where Wilderness At Bowditch Point left off. We’re on a field trip with my Florida Master Naturalist class (Coastal Systems Module), and we’ve got a really great guide named Roger Clark, from Lee County, Florida’s Conservation 20/20 program.

After telling us about a few of the plants and trees that we found growing on the perimeter of the parking lot, Roger led us up the man-made hill at the very northern tip of Estero Island aka Fort Myers Beach. Once on top of the hill, we saw a prominent “KEEP OUT” sign posted on a split-rail fence. Almost immediately, it became apparent that we were in for a critter encounter!


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If you are looking for a gopher tortoise burrow, here’s how to spot one – just look around for a heap of sand that looks like an ant hill on steroids. The ones I’ve seen come complete with a hole that’s partially obscured by brush. I don’t know if that’s intentional, or just one giant co-inky-dink.

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A female gopher tortoise contemplates jumping the fence.


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Whut-oh! Stand back, she’s on the move!


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She’s getting pretty close – Immma-skeered! 😯


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Oh. Em. Gee! She passed very close to me. I got up and moved to the other side of a tree and turned on the video camera …

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This tortoise had a single-minded mission to leave her burrow and head into a scrub area, and no wildlife geek with a camera in her hand was going to stop her! I can’t believe I moved out of her path, and then she headed right for me anyway. You can hear one of my classmates coaching me (translation: playing with my head a bit) about how vicious these animals can be 😀 You can also hear him say “no” when I ask if I should move. In the end, I was running out of options to keep the lens on her and had to stand up to avoid becoming a pretzel. You can also hear scrub jays screaming in the background about the time I stand up.

After the official part of the field trip was over, I doubled back over the route we’d taken so I could get some better shots of the plants that had been discussed. As I came up the hill, I spied this little tableau:

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At first, I thought this osprey had an extra tail, or maybe one of her feathers was coming loose.

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Now we see that it’s definitely a tail, but it’s not hers. It’s lunch! I think this is what they call “mantling” behavior, where they hunch over their food so that nothing flying overhead will see it and try to compete for it.

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She’s really got an impressive profile, with a beak made for tearing. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” 😉

There will be one more installment of this Florida Master Naturalist field trip adventure in the very near future – so stay tuned! :)

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Camera Critters

Photo Friday:Wilderness at Bowditch Point

© Copyright 2011 Erin | http://MyMobileAdventures.com | CLICK any photo for a larger view

BowditchOnTheMap


For our first field trip, my Florida Master Naturalist class (Coastal Systems Module) went on a botanical exploration of a small wilderness located at the northern tip of Estero Island in the town of Fort Myers Beach, Lee County, Florida. This is Bowditch Point Regional Park, part of the Lee County park system. The site had been used as a repository for channel-dredged sand, and is consequently the highest point on the island at 22 feet. The land changed hands several times over the years until the County had the opportunity to purchase it in December 1987 for $5.75mm. Since that time, much effort has gone into the creation of a natural coastal habitat where native Floridian plants can thrive and wildlife can find refuge.

Our guide for this trip was Roger Clark from Conservation 20/20 here in Lee County. He was patient and knowledgeable and had a unique way of conveying information about a plant or animal; he’d first tell you some facts and attributes and THEN tell you the name. It was kind of like Jeopardy – first you get the answer, and then you get the question.

Roger had a field guide with him which he recommended to the rest of us – Florida’s Living Beaches: A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber. I stopped at Barnes & Noble on the way home and they had ONE left, so I quickly purchased it. I also found it on Amazon. The other book I like to use is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. It’s the typical slim, easy-to-pack-and-carry Audubon volume, and it’s great for just general identification while you’re out and about. I’ve got the paperback, which seems to be in short supply these days, so that’s a link to the hardcover edition.

I took quite a few photos, so I’ll be splitting it up into several posts. Here is the first installment – enjoy :)


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Notice how specific this sign is – couldn’t be plainer. I’ve seen similar signs at all beaches in Lee County, yet I’ve also seen people violating this law :( Most folks, however, are conscientious about it.

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At the bottom of the “mound”, just where it meets the parking lot, there’s a nice little shady spot to sit and enjoy the view of Matanzas Pass. The word “matanzas” is Spanish for “killings”. History tells us that the indigenous people who once lived here, the Calusa, had a habit of paddling out to meet Spanish explorer’s ships while extending a special kind of welcome with the business-end of their spears. Indeed, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon met his fate from a mortal wound received at the hands of the Calusa. There’s speculation that Matanzas Pass is the place where a lot of these “welcome”-type activities occurred.

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What do the gumbo limbo tree and the Florida tourist have in common? They are both red and peeling… ha ha ha ha ha 😉 Migratory birds like the fruit of the gumbo limbo tree. We’ve got lots of these trees here in Southwest Florida.

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I was surprised to find out that palms aren’t really “trees”; they lack a vascular system. The smaller trees in the swale are pond apples. They were planted there because they can well tolerate having their feet wet.

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Pond apples have compound leaves – more than one leaf attached to the same leaf stalk. The apples are edible by animals and humans but they don’t taste very good, I’m told.

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The sea grape wants to be a tree! However, many people chop at them to keep them shrub-like. They are used in landscaping as hedgerows and borders. This one was allowed to be a tree. During this field trip, we found out that there are ANSI standards for pruning trees and that one should NEVER “top” a tree. ANSI standards? Who knew?!?!!

ANSI = American National Standards Institute

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This Jamaica Dogwood is otherwise known as the Florida Fish Poison tree. Powder made from the tree can be used to stun fish, making them more easily captured.

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We’re about to continue up the hill and catch a glimpse of some of the residents. OK, WAY more than a glimpse! Stay tuned – PART TWO of this field trip will be posted in a few days!

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Treasure, Trash and Tracks

© Copyright 2011 Tink *~*~*

http://MyMobileAdventures.com

As previously mentioned, I’ve been attending classes for the Florida Master Naturalist program. The first module is Coastal Systems, for which I need to make a 3 minute presentation. I became inspired by way of indignation while reading about sea turtles and the conditions that can ensure their success in creating a nest – or else pretty much guarantee their failure.

Since my turn to present won’t happen until about 6:30 PM tonight, you guys are getting a “preview” – shhhh! 😉

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Treasure, Trash and Tracks – this presentation aims to deliver key messages about how YOU can Help Coastal Wildlife To Survive and Thrive

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Everyone loves the beach for different reasons. In addition to the relaxing and beautiful environment, I love the beach for the TREASURES that can be found there. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect gastropod, but I see beauty in imperfection as well – decomposition and decay, as seen in worn driftwood and crumbly sand dollars, can indicate that naturally-occurring, healthy cycles are in place and chugging along.

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I’m not just interested in dead things! Wildlife is a kind of treasure, too, offering much beauty to be enjoyed. Plants and animals are bountiful when the environment is healthy and available.

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Rules have been put in place to help wildlife to survive and thrive. These rule were meant to govern the behavior of those who visit the beach, so the wildlife and their habitat are not harmed.

Do people always follow the rules? The sand in the sink is the least of it….

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People who love to the beach come here to play, to create, to celebrate, to build or just to relax. They leave behind evidence that they’ve been here doing all those things. Much of it is beautiful or interesting to look at (ahem – The Man From Nantucket), even thought-provoking like the left-behind shoes and the messages in the sand. But there are other things that people leave behind on the beach that are not beautiful or interesting, and can impact wildlife and the environment in distressing ways…

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Trash is defined as something that’s unwanted, discarded. Sometimes it’s done with flagrant disrespect for the environment and the rules, but sometimes it’s just that things get forgotten or lost, and that’s how it becomes trash. Much is plastic or other materials that won’t biodegrade. It will stick around “forever” and become a hazard to life or an obstruction to natural behaviors.

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A HAZARD is something that can cause risk or danger. Sea turtles and other coastal life have been found dead with the remnants of plastic bottles, toys and other debris in their digestive systems. Wildlife can be injured and even killed from becoming tangled in discarded fishing line. Some of this stuff is not only non-biodegradable, it’s also disgusting. Dirty diaper in the dunes – really? REALLY?

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The trappings of fun and recreation can make a turtle turn right around and head back into the sea without ever having completed her mission – digging a nest and laying eggs.

Baby turtles emerge from the nest exhausted and still need to keep going to reach the water – but they cannot do that with so many obstacles. If a hatchling encounters one of these holes, he may fall in and die there. The smallest things left on the beach can prove insurmountable for the babies.

These holes are also a hazard for humans – people can fall in and become injured. I’ve turned an ankle on smaller holes than these.

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A “false crawl” is when a turtle visits the beach but doesn’t make a nest. There are a variety of naturally-occurring reasons that a turtle will leave – maybe the sand conditions aren’t right, or there are predators present. These are compounded by people-caused conditions such as HAZARDS and OBSTRUCTIONS, noise, light and activity.

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Wildlife and the environment are TREASURES worth preserving.

TRASH and other people-caused impacts can lead to hazards and obstruction of natural behaviors.

If hazards and/or obstructions persist, then turtles will make TRACKS back into the sea without laying eggs

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If you want to help wildlife to survive and thrive, then let this be your pledge – LEAVE NOTHING ON THE BEACH BUT FOOTPRINTS. Thanks very much for your attention!

CREDITS: My friend Tootie provided all of the “trash” pictures, as well as the photo of the false crawl, which she documented on her blog last week. The rest of the photos were taken by yours truly.

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Snook Bight Marina on Fort Myers Beach

My Florida Master Naturalist class is going on a field trip today through Estero Bay in Southwest Florida. Heading out soon aboard Good Time Charters; we are SO lucky that the owners are in our class! Hoping to have some quality critter encounters!

A Groupon for The Sanibel Cafe! #swfl

Follow the link below for a really good deal on a meal at the Sanibel Cafe.  Aside from the fact that the Cafe is operated by some dear friends of mine, you can also find good food and friendly service at a decent price all year round.  And I love the shell tables!  This is more than 50% off so don’t miss it – the offer expires sometime early on Saturday 06-18-2011

$7 for $15 Worth of Breakfast or Lunch Café Fare at Sanibel Café in Sanibel

Some photos I’ve taken of the Sanibel Cafe – enjoy :)

Shell table – with a junonia in it!
Coffee at the Sanibel Cafe

Shrimp quiche:
Sanibel Cafe's shrimp quiche

Pina colada french toast – SO wicked-good!
Pina Colada French toast at the Sanibel Cafe - WOW

The always-attractive Sanibel Cafe Official Coffee Mug:
Brunch on Sanibel Island

$7 for $15 Worth of Breakfast or Lunch Café Fare at Sanibel Café in Sanibel

Florida Master Naturalist program starts tonight!

I’m excited to be starting the Florida Master Naturalist program tonight! This is the Coastal Systems Module. There will be multiple field trips during June. If there’s opportunity to take photos during this adventure (I *am* supposed to be learning something) you can be sure I will share!

Southwest Florida Scenery

© Copyright 2011 Tink *~*~* | http://MyMobileAdventures.com

Causeway sunsetIt’s been hot and sunny here in Southwest Florida. Late last week, the set-your-watch-by-it afternoon thunderstorm started to make appearances, although it’s not really consistent yet. Sometimes, friends on Sanibel Island say all they got was a lot of rumbling and a little spit; meanwhile, out here on the mainland, it’s pouring so hard, I can’t even see across the pond out back. Other days, they get the deluges and I don’t even get the spit! Well, it will settle in eventually, the sooner the better. I really want to turn off the irrigation system and save some bucks on the monthly utility bill.

Yet another causeway sunset shot

Here’s what sunset looked like from one of the causeway islands early last week. Also included below is a shot of one of my plumeria trees in bloom. These beautiful creamy-yellow blooms look good enough to eat and they smell absolutely outrageous. Typically, they will take a short rest and then start blooming again, right through the summer and into about October. Can’t wait for the fuschia-colored tree to bloom again!

Plumeria Report 25 May 2011

How’s it going in YOUR neighborhood?

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Hey, #SWFL – Edison & Ford Winter Estates Groupon Deal!

Mina Edison in the GardenMy Mobile Adventures *~*~* mobile blogged a visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates earlier this month.  At $24 for the garden tour, I thought it was a BIT pricey, but $12 is a GREAT bargain!  So if you’re interested, jump on this deal – I think it will only be good for two more days (Until Monday May 30th 2011).

CLICK HERE to get a GROUPON for Edison & Ford Winter Estates Tours

Slideshow: MORE from the Edison-Ford Winter Estates

© Copyright 2011 Tink *~*~* | http://MyMobileAdventures.com

IMG_5521Here are some more photos from our great ramble around the Edison-Ford Winter Estates here in Fort Myers, Southwest Florida. The place was lively with school tour groups, flowering trees and shrubs bursting into bloom, bees bumbling, water fowl foraging – and mangoes dropping out of the trees.

I like that you’re encouraged to walk on the lawns, and that it’s not that perfectly manicured golf course stuff. Loved the story of the Edison Botanic Research Co., which was formed because both Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone needed a domestic source of rubber. The location just can’t be beat – with the beautiful Caloosahatchee River spread before them, why would they want to spend their winters anywhere else? All in all, a splendid morning.

There’s a slide show below. If you want to read the detailed commentary that goes with each photo, CLICK HERE to visit the set on Flickr. Enjoy the photos :)

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Looking very GQ



Looking very GQ, originally uploaded by Erin *~*~*.

Mr. Henry Ford vogues for us

ADDED FOR PHOTO FRIDAY: Great timing – I just finished touring the Edison-Ford Winter Estates here in Fort Myers, Florida. Henry Ford is generally acknowledged as the father of modern manufacturing, having pioneered use of the assembly line for the making of his automobiles. This statue lives on the Ford winter estate in Fort Myers, Florida, where he lived next door to other luminaries of his time (no pun intended… well maybe just a little) such as Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.

For more pictures from this week’s tour of the Edison-Ford Estates here in Fort Myers, Florida, CLICK HERE

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Slideshow: More Naples Botanical Garden

© Copyright 2011 Tink *~*~* | http://MyMobileAdventures.com

050320114738Lots of times, while I am out adventuring, I take pictures faster than I can mobile blog them. I also sometimes take photos with a regular camera instead of my phone. There were a couple of times this happened today while my friend Christene and I were touring the Naples Botanical Garden in Southwest Florida. I decided to go through the photos that didn’t get mobile blogged, select the ones that don’t suck and make them into a slide show for your botanical pleasure :)
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Compang ruins in Naples Botanical Garden

In the Asian Garden, there’s a compang – a stone platform that servesas a meeting place.

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Waterfall in the Brazilian Garden

Would be lovely to sit here in a shady spot and just dig the sounds of the rushing falls, the bees and the songbirds, all filtered through bright sunshine.

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Latitudes of growth



Latitudes of growth, originally uploaded by Erin *~*~*.

Everything growing at the Naples Botanical Garden is found the world over between latitude 26 north and latitude 26 north and latitude 26 south

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Bromeliads blooming at Naples Botanical Garden

These are so cool the way they capture the water for later

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Today’s adventure: Naples Botanical Garden

Chrstene is uber excited to be here – "Stop blogging and let’s get moving!" LOL

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Sanibel Royal Poinciana In Bloom



Sanibel Royal Poinciana In Bloom, originally uploaded by Erin *~*~*.

It’s been hot and dry here in Southwest Florida for several weeks now – perfect weather for lovebugs and poinciana alike. I love the firey orange-red of the Royal Poinciana – one of those colors that just speaks to my soul. Hope to grow one or two of my own someday.

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Earth Day Wildlife Wanderings

© Copyright 2011 Tink *~*~* | http://MyMobileAdventures.com

In observance of Earth Day, I took a stroll through the trails of the Calusa Nature Center, which is a local sanctuary here in the northeastern corner of Fort Myers, Florida. Most, if not all of the wildlife in captivity at the nature center has been injured in some way – they are either under rehab in preparation for release, or else they are permanent residents who cannot be returned to the wild.
Tortoises at the Calusa Nature Center


Here are some tortoises crowding together in a patch of sun. They love to be warm.

Lubber, sans blubber


The nature center boasts a collection of fossilized whale bones, including the skull, that were found on Fort Myers Beach. Here’s a young Eastern Lubber grasshopper taking a rest on the skull bone.

Publix says, "Thank you"...


After my nature center stroll, I went to the grocery store and was rewarded for using a reusable bag with this cute little green keychain thingie. I thought it was funny that the bag I used had actually been obtained at a different store, but I guess Publix isn’t being picky…

One of the things I did at the nature center was mobile blogging, which is not unusual for me – but I didn’t do it HERE, at My Mobile Adventures *~*~*, which IS a bit unusual. I have an iPod Touch and there was this free app called Zapd, which essentially lets you create a photo blog on the fly with your iDevice. Although my iPod Touch doesn’t take fabulous photos (only a 2MP camera), I still wanted to experiment, so I thought I’d test drive it today.

But… you protest – don’t you need a wi-fi connection with the iPod Touch? Why yes, yes you do! Which is why I was tethered to my phone the whole time I hiked :) Not the kind of thing I’d want to do all the time, as I already have a mobile blogging solution and this used twice the in-the-field battery power normally necessary for mobile blogging. But it was fun and easy, so I thought I’d share –

Happy Earth Day 2011 SWFL – CLICK HERE to see my first Zapd site

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OK, lesson learned – never gonna do that again!

Vehicle sweet vehicle – thou art a blessing, for thou hast air conditioning!

No shade to speak of on that route. Next time, we’re gonna run first and blog later!

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A shady spot to rest



A shady spot to rest, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

Here’s another gazebo, around the bend from the Japanese garden. It’s near the demonstration garden, a raised bed currently populated with vegetables. Also nearby is a huge heap of "black gold" or finished compost – smells heavenly. i miss gardening!

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