Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October 2008 Take a Walk on the WILD Side!

“Take a Walk on the Wild Side” was a great success on September 28, 2008 at John Williams Park! Twenty-four participants joined me on a two and a half-hour hike through Sheridan Oak Forest Natural Area, including our newest and youngest naturalist, four-month-old Juliana Alexandra Hernandez. She was accompanied by her mom, Pahola, and her dad Chris, who is one of my favorite naturalists. Chris is the Park Manager at Greynolds Park in Miami-Dade County, and we used to work together for National Audubon Society many years ago. Broward Audubon members joined us, as did many members of the North American Butterfly Association and Hollywood Hills High School students.

We did some hiking off-trail and some of us got a few scratches from the thorns on some of the plants, such as native Wild Lime (Zanthoxylum fagara) and Smilax (Smilax auriculata and S. bona-nox), as well as while trying to avoid the developing sticky carpels of the non-native invasive Caesar Weed. We documented two new species of birds, too: Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) were cavorting high in the canopy, and little Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) were feeding on the myriad of insects along the oak branches. I hope that our participants are considering coming back for an invasive non-native removal program and to learn more about the hammock. Some of the Hollywood Hills volunteers have been out to the park so often that know it well by now!

One of the ubiquitous non-native weeds there is known as Mascarene Leafflower (Phyllanthus tenellus), which we pulled out whenever we saw it. There are some native leafflowers, too. Most leafflowers are so named because the leaves produce flowers! Needless to say, that is why they can be invasive.

Another invasive species is the Mexican Primrose (Ludwigia octovalvis), which is at least a nectar source. We saw a lot of various sulfur butterflies in the wetlands, which use the native Sickel Pod (Senna obtusifolia) found in the same area as a host plant. It is one of the host plants for the Cloudless Sulfur (Phoebis senna) and the Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe).

Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius) was in flower, too. Here's a photo of the leaves, flowers and pods to help you recognize this when it's not in seed with bright red seeds…we pulled as many flowering invasives as we could, which prevents the flowers, which are being pollinated by the insects, from setting seed.

There are a lot of natives in the park, too, such as this delicate Hempvine (Mikania scandens) an important native source of nectar for the small hairstreaks and skippers in the park.
And this lovely wild Poinsettia (Poinsettia cyathophora) grows thoroughout the park. It's not as flashy as your Christmas variety, but gorgeous in a cluster nonetheless.

Once again, if you have a group that would like to have a guided tour through Sheridan Oak Forest, or know of a school group that would like to learn about native and non-native plants hands-on, or who need a project for community service hours, email me and we’ll set you up. I have developed Scavenger Hunt programs for kids K-12, specific to the park, too, which makes observations even more fun for kids.

The atala colonies are in the crash cycle now everywhere in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, although we find nine new pupae at the park. There were no adults to be seen and no larvae or eggs anywhere. A few sites are still producing atala pupae, but most have crashed.

If you would like a PDF of native plants that serve as nectar sources or host plants for South Florida butterflies, I just posted the list on the Imperiled Butterfly Working Group website to download your copies. They are big files (13+ pages each). The Excel sheet lists the plants, the butterflies that use them as host plants, and the habitats where the plants do best. The Word document describes the plants.

Soon the national NABA site will also have the list with photographs as well, but for now you can see photos of the plants at the Natives for your Backyard website published by the Institute for Regional Conservation. There you can type in your zip code and get a list of plants for your site, but whether they are used by specific butterflies is not always listed.

And remember that the seasonal butterfly counts are coming up soon! We could really use some help in the North Circle at Hillsboro Pinelands and Crystal Lake Natural Areas. There will be two counts, so check your calendar and let us know if you are able to participate in either one or both events. The counts will be in the morning and/or in the afternoon with a social time to relax for lunch scheduled in between. TIMES: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

October 4, 2008 Saturday, two areas:
TREE TOPS PARK/PINE ISLAND RIDGE, Entrance on East side of Nob Hill Road between Orange Dr. and I-595
LONG KEY NATURAL AREA, Davie. Entrance is 3501 S.W. 130thAvenue - at the traffic light at the entrance toFlamingo Gardens drive 1/2 mile west from Flamingo Rd. on SW 36thCourt, turn right/north at the bend - the Park entrance is on theleft about 200 feet).
RESTAURANT: 11:15 a.m. 84 Diner 11432 W. State Road 84 at Hiatus Rd., Davie 33325
October 11, 2008 Saturday, four areas:
Crystal Lake Pine Scrub 3299 NE 3 Ave. Pompano Beach
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park 3109 E Sunrise Blvd. Fort Lauderdale Sunrise Blvd. west of A1A
Hillsboro Pineland - U.S. 441 and NW 74 Place Coconut Creek
Coconut Creek Tamarind Village
RESTAURANT: For Birch State Park 11:15 a.m. Primanti Brothers, 901 N. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd. 954-565-0605 CASH ONLY

RESTAURANT: For Crystal/Hillsboro 11:15 a.m. Pizza Time Cafe 6620 Parkside Drive, Parkland FL 33067. 954-345-8665 - off Holmberg Road in a shopping mall

Please RSVP to: Janice Malkoff 954-993-9449 or

Barbara DeWitt 954-584-3123

Long KeyAlex Schore for Tree Tops Park/Pine Island Ridge
Sandy Koi 954-449-5428 for Hillsboro
WHAT TO BRING: Water and snacks to carry on the walk. Hat, sunscreen, binoculars, field guides, and cameras. Dress for theoutdoors.

NABA'S PARTICIPATION FEE: $3:00 for adults. Children under 12 years old pay no fee. This money is for NABA to help with conservation programs, the website and maintain data bases of our counts. No experience necessary! Friends of all ages are welcome. High School students can earn service hours.

Garden Watchers count butterflies in their own garden as long as it is within the count circle. Persons who do field observation as well as garden watching are counted only as field observers.

Garden watchers butterfly counts are added to those seen by other count participants.
For Count instructions go to

I’ll be spending some time with my friends at Miami Day Country School this month, too, exploring the Miami River, performing water tests and identifying wildlife. Past trips with these kids have been awesome and I am looking forward to a wonderful event. Pictures will be posted later!

I am available to do science programs, nature walks and art projects with schools. Just send me an email expressing your interest and we’ll work something out especially for your group. My free-lance fees are very reasonable, and I’ll do my best to accommodate your budget. C’mon! Take a Walk on the Wild Side and see South Florida! Happy Rosh HaShanah--wishing a sweet New Year to all.

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