Monday, May 27, 2013

Florida Gopher Tortoise

This is year three for this gopher tortoise living in our yard. He is getting big! If you are a fan of Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, we named this tortoise Baby Gruffles.

Three-year old gopher tortoise


 


Nice view of gopher tortoise shell. In a few years, this will be gray


Buttercup finally figured out what was happening and the party was quickly over.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Florida Tickseed Wildflower Field

Every year,  my tickseed field grows bigger and bigger. This morning, it was crazy with various insects taking advantage of tickseed's nectar and pollen.








A solitary halictid bee covered in pollen




Look at all that pollen!


Orchard Spider


Katydid nymph on a blooming false indigo


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Florida Scrub - A List of Publically Available Lands

There are several great places to experience the rare and enchanting beauty of the Florida scrub. Here is a list of the biggest and best.

There are a lot of scrubby scraps within other parks or wildlife management areas. I myself live surrounded by a sand pine scrub in the Seminole State Forest. But I wanted this list to cater to classroom visits, accessibility, and availability of educational guides or rangers.

Go have a scrub adventure!
 


Archbold Biological Station in Highlands County offers a multitude of classroom programs and an Education Center.  This is the best place to see a rosemary scrub.  http://www.archbold-station.org/

Lyonia Preserve in Volusia County offers a wide range of classroom programs and an Education Center. http://www.lyoniapreserve.com

Enchanted Forest in Titusville, Brevard County –The name says it all! Group tours available http://www.nbbd.com/godo/ef/scrub/  or http://www.EnchantedForestFriends.org


Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota County - http://www.floridastateparks.org/oscarscherer/default.cfm


Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County  http://www.floridastateparks.org/jonathandickinson/


Ocala National Forest in Marion and Lake Counties. The biggest and wildest.  http://www.fs.usda.gov/ocala


Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park in Highland County - http://www.floridastateparks.org/lakejuneinwinter/default.cfm


Jupiter Ridge Natural Area in Palm Beach County
http://www.pbcgov.com/erm/natural/natural-areas/jupiter-ridge/




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Florida Black Bear in the Scrub

We had a little visitor this Mother's Day. I made her a bit nervous, but I was allowed to follow her for a ways into the scrub. The trick to walking with bears is to know the right distance to follow. If you get too close too soon, they will take off!

Florida Black Bear with angel. I think we'll name her Angel


You are really going to follow me???





Look both ways. Roads are very dangerous for bears.


The Florida Scrub here is chock-full of bears




More bear pictures from the scrub

I know...I know..you want cubs. Here are some in our napping tree.

Nice closeups from another holiday bear

Of course for the best book featuring Florida black bears, check out Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Tardigrade Garden

I recently did a Skype visit with a wonderful classroom in South Carolina. I was there to discuss Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus and, it turns out, the kids were very excited about the giant tardigrades in the book. I forwarded directions for finding their very own tardigrades from Mike Shaw. Here's what the teacher responded when I followed-up about their search.
 
 
Hi,
Yes we did! The kids were so excited!I can't thank you enough for opening up their eyes to a whole new world. Please continue your work. It is very important that teachers have books like yours to use in the classroom.
I grew up in Massachusetts. As a child I spent many hours outside exploring the woods. My students spend so much time inside playing video games that they don't understand the world around them. I have used books to introduce science concepts to the kids in the past. I can't wait until next years group of kids because I plan on using your first book and your second book! Thanks again.
 
 
All of this got me to thinking about the tardigrade habitat in my Florida scrub backyard. I love these tiny ecosystems. They are like miniature coral reefs.



The Tardigrade Tree






 
 

 

A Florida Boletus Mushroom

Here is a nice meaty Boletus mushroom blooming in the yard this morning. Boletus grow under deciduous trees on dry, limstone-y soils. That's a fairly accurate description of Florida soil. We see a lot of Boletus here in the Florida sand-pine scrub. Is this Boletus radicans? I don't know!


Boletus sp.







Closeup of the stipe


closeup of Boletus pores