Monthly Archives: February 2015

Imperiled Species Plan

American Oyster Catcher

American Oyster Catcher

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released it’s new conservation plan needed to protect species of wildlife that are endangered or threatened. The new plan which lists 60 species of birds, animals, reptiles and fish is meant to be more pro active in protecting and increasing the numbers of endangered wildlife in Florida. Species such as the American Oystercatcher pictured above will be protected from hunters and poachers and also have their habitat evaluated by FWC. Wildlife habitats are areas in which birds, animals and other types of wildlife make their home, nest and forage for food. Habitat destruction has been the number one reason why species decline in number. Wildlife lose their habitat by natural causes such as floods and fires but also by man made causes such as clearing and development of the land. You can learn more about the 60 species of wildlife which have been put on the new list and actions that will be taken by FWC at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Website.

 

 

Great Egret – Birds of Florida

Great Egret

Great Egret

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The Great Egret is a majestic looking bird with it’s white plume of feathers, tall upright stance and graceful looks when it is flying. It is easy to spot with it’s all white body, yellow bill and black legs. I photographed this one at Punta Rassa near the Sanibel bridge. It was either looking out to sea or staring at a nearby fisherman and hoping to get a treat if he caught anything. These birds were hunted to near extinction because their white feathers were sought after by hunters to supply the fashion industry with plumage for women’s hats. They were finally protected by wildlife protection laws and their numbers have greatly increased.

Great Egrets get their food by stalking their prey, either small fish or aquatic animals in fresh or salt water environments. They spear their prey with their long bills. Cornell Univ. has a website called All About Birds which contains a lot of information about this bird and others.

 

 

 

 

Environmental Conservation – Nicodemus Slough

Nicodemus Slough

Nicodemus Slough

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The South Florida Water Management District is putting into use fallow farm land near Lake Okeechobee to store billions of gallons of water that would otherwise have been released down the Caloosahatchee River. The water storage area called the Nicodemus Slough will be able to filter nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous out of the water. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers releases billions of gallons of nutrient laden water out of the large lake whenever it’s level approaches 15 feet. Hurricanes in the past have pushed water over the lakes levees flooding nearby towns and causing many deaths. The Corp of Engineers releases billions of gallons of water down the Caloosahatchee to the west and St. Lucie river to the east causing many water and beach problems for residents on both coasts. Excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous cause large algae blooms producing an ugly and foul slimy surface on the water surface and fish die offs. The Nicodemus Slough which is located on 16,000 acres of unused farmland just west of Lake Okeechobee will collect some of these water releases and hopefully lessen some of the Caloosahatchee’s and St. Lucie’s  water problems.

Picture courtesy of South Florida water Management District.

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page

 

 

Plants of Florida – Flowering Bromeliad Air Plant

Air Plant & Bromeliad at Corkscrew Swamp

Air Plant & Bromeliad

 

 

 

 

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The flowering air plant in this picture is one of over 540 species of a genus of evergreen perennial flowering plants. I took this picture while I was walking on the boardwalk of Audubons Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Fla. The plants scientific name is Tillandsia. It is also known as an Epiphyte (air plant) and are not harmful to the trees they grow on. Epiphytes are common in Florida and can be seen on many kinds of trees. They do not need soil to grow and only require sunlight, water and nutrients which they absorb from the moisture in the air and water running over their host tree. The red Bromeliad growing from this air plant is attractive to look at when you are walking through a swamp, slough or other plant habitat. They don’t look like they belong there but are native to Florida’s moist and humid environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of Florida – Double-Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

Double Crested Cormorants

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I  was lucky enough to see this flock of Double-crested Cormorants while I was bicycling along a drainage canal on Daniels Pkwy in Ft. Myers in the Autumn of 2014. Cormorants look similar to Anhinga’s but can be distinguished by their shorter bills which are also bent down at the end. These birds are very strong swimmers and feed by diving for their prey in many types of aquatic habitats such as lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and bays. Their diet includes fish, crabs, crayfish, frogs, salamanders and snakes. They usually swallow their prey whole once they are caught. I have seen these birds swim several yards underwater to catch their prey. The Audubon Guide to North American Birds has some good information to learn more about these birds. You can also visit All About Birds to learn more about Cormorants and hear an audio of their calls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windsurfing – Florida Recreation

Windsurfing Causeway

Windsurfing Causeway

 

 

 

 

 

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Windsurfing off the Sanibel Causeway at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee is a popular sport for people looking to speed across the Pine Island Sound. Parasailing and kayaking are also popular pastimes in this area of Lee County. Located between Sanibel Island and mainland Ft. Myers, the Sanibel Causeway is a 3 mile land bridge stretched across the Pine Island Sound. The causeway also has picnic areas and lots of areas to fish. Bird watchers can see Brown Pelicans, Osprey, White Egrets, Blue herons, Laughing Gulls and others kinds of birds. Click on the link below to watch some windsurfing in action.

Windsurfing

 

 

Environmental Conservation – Storm Water Treatment Area

 

Stormwater Treatment Area One West

click on image for larger picture Stormwater Treatment Area One West

 

 

 

 

 

The South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers are moving water out of Lake Okeechobee and into large retention areas that serve to filter the water of nutrients before it is released into the Everglades. Storm Water Treatment Area # 1 West which holds 6,500 acres of water is one of many of these retention areas. It is located southeast of Lake Okeechobee and is designed to keep the lake at safe levels for flood control purposes and to help clean the  water before it is released into the Everglades.  Theses treatment areas can hold billions of gallons of water. Aquatic plants in the treatment areas help to remove harmful nutrients and pollutants from the water. The SFWMD and USACE also use WCA’s or Water Conservation Area’s to hold large quantities of water for purposes such as flood control, drinking water supplies, agricultural irrigation and Everglades restoration. Sending lake water to these places also lessens the amount of Okeechobee water that is released down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie waterways which  helps to keep these estuaries clean.  From Nov. 1, 2014 through Feb. 2, 2015, the South Florida Water Management District moved approximately 131 billion gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee to some of these storm water retention areas and water conservation areas. You can see the water retention and conservation areas from ariel views at the South Florida Water Management District website.

Picture courtesy of South Florida Water Management District