In need of a wildlife fix, I took a break from eagle watching. Deer are great to watch, but are not too common in our semi-urban neighborhood. Just a month ago I saw this doe just off the unpaved extension of Miramar Parkway, only a couple of blocks from home:
This past Monday, before the rains came. I trekked the West Miramar Environmentally Sensitive Lands near home. This is an extensive tract of undeveloped land that occupies much of the area west of 196th Avenue and east of US-27 between Pines Boulevard and the Miami-Dade County line. Part of it is owned by the developers of Harbor Lakes and Sunset Lakes, protected for wildlife and water conservation under restrictive covenants and/or conservation easements to mitigate the effects of draining and developing the subdivisions to the east. The remainder of the land is controlled by the South Florida Water Management District.
On my way in, two species of grackles were the only birds in sight.
This Boat-tailed Grackle was a study in black and blue:
A Common Grackle, uncommonly beautiful in its iridescent coat, stripped fibers from the edge of a Royal Palm boot, to be used in building its nest:
I walked a path that roughly corresponds to an imaginary westward extension of SW 32nd Street, from the 196th Avenue canal to another north-south path that would be 208th Avenue. This point is about 1 1/2 mile to the south of the Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle nest. This was the first time in almost five years that I could walk the entire distance without stepping in deep mud and wading across areas of standing water. Fish were concentrated in the ditch that runs along the path, but I was surprised to find no long-legged wading birds feasting on them.
Nor did I see the usual alligators and Cottonmouth Water Moccasins, as much as I tried. Only one deer, a good sized White-tailed doe, leaped up in front of me and disappeared. Though I have found Bobcats and Raccoons there in the past, none were to be found. Except for a few Common Yellowthroats, no warblers were around. Even the omnipresent winter Palm Warblers must have flown north.In fact, this entire area of recovering Everglades seemed relatively devoid of birds. We are now stuck between the seasons, missing some of our winter visitors, and awaiting the flush of northbound migrants. My obvious alternative was to find beauty in the commonplace.
A nice find was a pair of tiny Common Ground-Doves, the male distinguished by his metallic gray nape:
Even butterflies were scarce, but nonetheless beautiful, as was this Zebra Heliconian, Florida’s State butterfly:
A Fiery Skipper fed on this Lantana blossom:
White Peacock Butterflies were courting:
The red and black Mason Wasp’s colors shouted a warning– do not touch!:
A lazy Turkey Vulture blocked the path ahead of me with its six foot wing spread:
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