Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 2008

October had a lot of activity, which I will share after telling you about November’s upcoming events. The NABA meeting this month is something you want to make time to attend! We meet at the Broward County Extension Office on College Avenue in Davie.

Dennis Olle, President of the Miami Blue NABA Chapter, will speak on Thursday, November 13th, 2008. Dennis will enlighten us with his knowledge: "In depth identification and behavior of the tricky Sulphurs and Yellows". Those creatures are a real challenge to identify, so join us for the evening to learn about their differences.

Our social time with refreshments begins at 6:30 and you can purchase plant raffle tickets then too; the meeting will begin promptly at 7:00. This is a great opportunity to pick up some rare native plants for your garden!

On November 15, 2008, please join me and friends for another Exotic Plant Workshop at John Williams Park/Sheridan Oak Forest, 1 block west of 441 on Sheridan Street. The program will start at 9 AM at the small pavilion beside the natural area, and end at noon. We have a lot of work to do as the Caesar’s Weed is growing rampant. Wear long sleeves and hats (Caesar’s Weed is not fun to remove from your hair!) Bring water and snacks if you like, and a camera to take pictures of the wildlife…there are always beautiful flowers and butterflies, cool spiders, squirrels and birds to see. You'll learn about native plants, too!

Atalas are crashing at most sites, but they ought to be showing some recovery in another month to six weeks, if they follow past patterns. Keep a lookout for the larvae hiding in the substrate, where they sometimes go to escape cold weather.

I had an opportunity to go to the West Coast of Florida with my friend Art Constantino last month, to visit a restoration area that will shortly be turned over to Audubon’s Corkscrew Sanctuary. What a gorgeous environment! I told Art that any day that starts out with sighting Roseate Spoonbills just gets better and better—and it did!

The total area of this mitigation land consists of 2,778 acres! The Wetlandsbank Group is responsible for this incredible restoration work and parts of it are open to the public now. Art had an inside connection, however, and we got to view the results of years of labor in areas that are still in process. This is Art, Robert and me in the field.

We saw hundreds of butterflies, found a little green tree frog, saw bobcat and deer tracks, and a Pygmy Rattlesnake, as well as hundreds of plant rarities, such as Pawpaw (Asimina species) and Corky-Stemmed Passion Fruit (Passiflora suberosa) with fruit.

The native sunflower (Helianthus floridanus) was blooming in big swathes of bright yellow and Liastris (Liastris pauciflora) formed gorgeous paths of bright pink.

Kestrels and Red-Tailed Hawks were everywhere; we saw Glossy Ibis and Shrikes, and we even saw Snipe and deer! It was a gorgeous perfect clear blue-skied day and I was privileged to have an expert guide in Art’s brother-in-law, Robert, who literally escorted us around for nearly six hours showing off the years of work he and his co-workers have completed.

And I had another delightful day with Miami Country Day School! We took a trip down the Miami River to learn about the old days. The younger kids did water tests with the help of the senior high students; the Miami River is not as pristine as it used to be, but we did get to see some interesting things, such as the big dredges lifting sludge from the bottom of the river. After the boat trip, we stopped at the Old Miami Inn for lunch and sketching of the neat old Florida houses. The kids were more interested in the ghost that is rumored to live in one of the old houses than anything else on the premises, which was quite amusing. Who knows?

I also had another field trip to Everglades National Park with Dr Joshua Feingold’s Biology students. It was great fun; the first bird of the day was a Pileated Woodpecker (who did not want his picture taken). The kids had lots of things to note for their field journals, such as this beautiful bright yellow tree snail, who was carefully placed back home after we took photos.

And finally, Barbara DeWitt and I took a mini-field trip to Florida Atlantic U’s Jupiter campus to hear a lecture by award-winning writer and lepidopterist, Bob Pyle, the founder of the Xerces Society. Bob is documenting a “Big Butterfly Year”, traveling around the country to raise money for Xerces.

His latest books are “Sky Time in Gray’s River”, and “Chasing Monarchs” and he has written more than fifteen books about nature and the environment. His lecture, “Frogs, Forts and Fritillaries: The Real World as Antidote to the Extinction of Experience,” addressed what many of us recognize as a serious disconnect from the Earth and the environment, what he calls the “extinction of experience”. Other writers, such as Richard Louv, coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Many of us remember spending hours and hours outside playing, getting familiar with wetlands, forests, streams or beaches, by ourselves or with our friends…children today so often do not have the opportunity to just be kids and explore the natural world. This is causing a measurable psychological dysfunction that is being recognized in everything from medical journals to psychology reports. Some of the problem is simply a lack of natural areas to explore (but one of the things we try to do is awaken kids to nature in urban areas, too…it’s still there, but not as easy to find.) Some of the issues are societal (pressure to monitor children or fill their time with planned activities at every moment).

Bob’s suggestion is to compromise…take your kids to the parks or natural areas and let them play and discover on their own (keeping your eye on them from a little distance for their safety and your peace of mind). Introduce them to field guides (Golden Guides are a great resource for budding naturalists).

He also noted that our children (and some of you!) will watch television programs and documentaries about the natural world with fascination, but don’t go out to see the wildlife in their own “backyard.” They probably don’t even know that there is anything out there to see!

Teach the future caretakers of the Earth about the world that surrounds them. Plant a wildlife habitat, and a butterfly garden, and they will literally see life on the wing from their own back porch. Friends send me great photos of the life in their backyard, such as this awesome photo of five Ruddy Daggerwings nectaring on native Thoroughwort (Koanophyllon villosum) from friend Mona Johnston. And she shared this photo, too (Thanks, Mona!):

Love Nature! Be Green! This is the only planet we have.

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Blogger Wetlandman said...

Hi there, The Wetlandsbank Group is pleased you enjoyed your trip to the Panther Island Mitigation Bank. It is indeed a special place. Please check out our project blog at PantherIsland.blogspot.com.

8:52 AM  

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