Tuesday, September 21: CREW Flint Pen Strand
Sheet flow from the north raised water levels considerably since last week. In one spot on the purple trail north of the marsh, it was between knee deep and waist deep. That was refreshing!
More wildlife was in the marsh and along the edges of the lakes with the increased water. A pair of Greater Yellowlegs foraged at dawn just west of the lake sparking lot, Killdeer flew over, a Spotted Sandpiper was hunting along the bank of the east lake, and Common Gallinules called from the reeds between the two lakes.
In addition to more Belted Kingfishers, we also saw nine Blue-winged Teal and a Mottled Duck at the edges of the lake.
The pre-dawn show continued. A lone Barred Owl flew into the cypress dome by the parking lot before sunrise; Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, and Great Egrets flew in around the same time; and the masses of White Ibis arrived shortly after sunrise.
This week, the ibis numbered 447, the Little Blue Herons 47, and the Tricolored Herons 41.
A pair of Green Herons perched at the tops of adjacent cypress trees just north of the marsh while Snowy Egrets and Great Blue Herons hunted along with ibis and Little Blue and Tricolored Herons east of the lakes.
The Great Blue Heron at the right flew across the marsh and landed near another Great Blue Heron. It then puffed up in a dominance display. The original Great Blue Heron got the message and walked across Poorman's Pass and into the marsh.
We also saw a half dozen Glossy Ibis in different parts of the marsh, mostly in the interior.
For the morning, we identified 30 species of birds.
The higher water levels created problems for other wildlife.
While we saw numerous Southern Leopard Frogs and heard Pig Frogs and Cricket Frogs, the Oak Toads moved to higher ground and were a little harder to spot in the grasses.
Insects were also affected. The ball of ants at the left was floating in the water and formed a tight ball that rotated so the ants on the bottom would slowly be on top and get air. It's an interesting way for the ants to travel and survive when rising water levels trap them.
We identified 12 species of dragonflies and damselflies. The most colorful were Common Green Darners and the tiny Rambur's Forktails. Halloween Pennants and Needham's Skimmers were the most common. Only nine species of butterflies/moths were seen, but a couple of caterpillars were fresh sightings. One was a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar crawling across a Passionvine bloom and the other was the Tersa Sphinx Moth caterpillar at the top of the page. It was clinging to a grass blade in the marsh. It's the first time the caterpillar of the moth has been documented on SFWMD/CREW lands.
In addition to the frogs, treefrogs, and toads, the only other herps were gators and anoles. The only mammals we saw were bats that were flying over before the sun rose.