Monday, June 19, 2006

Magic Pond #2 and More: Sunday, June 18

Juvenile ibises at the "library pond." More detail can be seen in the large view. (Click the magnifying glass for this and subsequent large views.)

I usually drive to our local library, but yesterday Mary and I walked there as part of a six-mile jaunt. The library pond is down the road from our oft-visited post office pond.

The ibises we've seen at the post office pond have been adults and older juveniles, which have mostly white feathers with some gray mottling here and there. This was the first time I'd seen younger juveniles in town. I wonder if the library pond might be the ibises' equivalent of the "kiddie pool" -- and, if so, what qualifies it as such.

Richard Ellis: "Most paleontologists today believe that living birds are directly descended from dinosaurs, and that 'avian' dinosaurs are thus not extinct at all."
-- No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species

I tend not to think of dinosaurs when I watch sparrows or spot a dove on a wire. But between the ibises and other denizens of these subtropics, sometimes I feel I'm Livin' La Vida Flintstone....

Click here for the large view.

Mary and I had watched a program in which paleontologists researched the closest habitat they could find to what had existed at the time of the dinosaurs. The location they chose was in southern Florida. Even where I am in central Florida, it takes only a few steps off the asphalt for me to feel as though I stand in the middle of something ancient.

Or no steps off the asphalt at all. This morning, as I crossed the county road, I saw an ibis glide past the facade of our local CVS, before I had time to capture that ancient/modern juxtaposition on pixel.

Click here for the large view.

Today a flock of around 20 ibises -- the largest gathering I've seen thus far -- poked around a neighbor's yard. A mockingbird sang in counterpoint to thunder rumbling in the distance. As I focused the camera I caught flashes of lightning out the corner of my eye. That video is forthcoming after I upload it at the library.

Click here for the large view.

A juvenile is joined by a snowy egret at right.

Originally Mary and I had planned to walk just to the library and back on Sunday, for a total of four miles. Once we reached the library we decided to continue on.

Ahead lies the forest. Behind lies a major, four-lane boulevard that winds down to the local elementary school and then to a large strip mall and county road. We stopped at the strip mall for a meal before heading back home.

The space between these two sets of palms looks almost like an entranceway, but it is not. So far as I know, this forest (or this part of it) contains no trails. As I said to Mary, "If the forest isn't already private property, then it belongs to the animals." Which it does, anyway. To enter would be to trespass, regardless of whether or not a property deed is involved.

Above us, two birds of prey circled, calling to each other. Every so often one would take a nosedive and then spring up in the air again. They were too far away for me to identify and I could photograph only a silhouette of one (resembling a kestrel or a nighthawk). But I recorded their calls (click here for the recording), and will see if I can identify the birds from that.

Also between the left and right palms is a barely-visible patch of moss. By the time we reached this spot, I had already photographed a different patch:

Click here for the large view.

What looks like wires is actually plant material. Clicking on the large-view link below will reveal even more.

Click here for the large view.

Click here for the large view.

I had photographed this Virgin Palm (Dioon edule, Family Zamiaceae) last month, but it is yet another example of our Livin' La Vida Flintstone. According to, this is not really a palm but a cycad, "belonging to a group of cone bearing plants which trace their origins back to the ancient flora of the early Mesozoic era." In other words, 248 to 65 million years ago: the time of the dinosaurs.

On my way home today I had my recorder at the ready, capturing contemporary avian dinosaur song* amidst rolling thunder.

* mockingbird, with a touch of mourning dove


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

I like the way you impart the sense of ancientness of Florida... not even having to step off the path to find it.

8:14 PM  

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