Long-lost South Florida photos

2009 April 11
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Last February (2008), my friend Tom and I had a 24-hour layover in Miami while traveling from Costa Rica to Buenos Aires, so (being the sensible folk we are) we spent the time driving around southern Florida and the Keys. We didn’t have time to pursue South Florida specialties like Mangrove Cuckoo, nor did we stumble across any, but we did get a memorable first glimpse of this very unique part of our nation. I thought that my pictures of the adventure got lost during months of travel, but I found them last week. Here are a few — enjoy!

american-white-ibis-eudocimus-albus-2

An American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) feeding among mangrove roots at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

snowy-egret-egretta-thula

A Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) in breeding finery.

great-white-heron-2

This isn’t a great photo, but it documents my first field experience with the “Great White” Heron, which is generally considered a color morph of the widespread Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). I’d always wondered just how distinctive these birds would be in the field, and as you can see from even this photo, the answer is very. (Oh, and not everyone agrees that it’s just a color morph.)

boat-tailed-grackle-quiscalus-major

Boat-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus major. The resident population in Florida is dark eyed.

mangrove

Mangrove habitat wasn’t something I’d had a chance to explore in North America before. I learned on this trip that a subspecies of the Prairie Warbler, Dendroica discolor paludicola, breeds in the Florida mangroves. They were singing when we visited in late February.

tillandsia-fasciculata-giant-airplant

South Florida has plenty to warm a botanist’s heart too. Take for instance this spectacular Tillandsia fasiculata — or giant airplant — which is related to Spanish moss and is a distant cousin to the pineapple.

keys-tropical-forest

The spectacular tropical hardwood forests of the Keys are home to White-crowned Pigeons, or so I am told. Perhaps one day I’ll find out for myself.

cypress-mound

This peculiar formation is called a ‘cypress mound.’ The land is flat, but the trees in the center of the swamp grow taller than those around the edges, forming what looks like a mound. Bald cypresses are deciduous, and they weren’t leafed out yet in February.

More photos are posted in the gallery, and putting together this post has made me eager to visit Florida again!

Related posts:

  1. Florida memories
  2. A postcard from south Texas
  3. More Gulf Coast photos
  4. Gulf Coast report and Long-tailed Duck
  5. Cranes and a kingbird
One Response
  1. April 12, 2009

    These are splendid, David! I’m glad you found (rediscovered?) them.

    I agree that the ‘great white heron’ is quite distinctive. It has all the traits of a great blue heron and couldn’t be mistaken with a great egret even if you tried hard to think of it as such. I’ve only seen one them and never got a photo of it, so I’m thrilled to see yours (and a bit jealous that you actually captured an image!).

    And the ibis… Wow!

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