Nature Trip

We headed to Singer Island on the east coast for Super Bowl weekend so we could watch the game with my in-laws. These trips east always involve some incredible nature sightings, like the time we saw a 4 foot (maybe larger) green iguana on the beach and how we can watch the manatee swim by from my in-laws balcony over the Atlantic Ocean. We can watch sharks swimming about, too. We always find an abundance of Portuguese man-o-war on the beach; tiny ones the size of your fingernail to some that look like party balloons; there are shells of all kinds 2 feet deep near the coquina limestone. You get the picture.  Well this time was no different.

I first found out that a magnificent frigate bird had nested along the intercoastal waterway side of Singer Island, just across the street from their condo. My father-in-law told me how they had watched, for weeks, the birds flying around, then the fledglings, but to my disappointment they were gone by the time I had arrived to visit. We were planning a day trip to Peanut Island but the cold front and strong wind kept us indoors. Instead we took our usual walks on the beach mid-day when the sun was beating down on us with warmth.

Along the wrackline, I saw what looked like tons of purple finger nails. At a closer look, I discovered the beach was covered with these hydralike animals called By-The-Wind-Sailors. They are in the phyllum Cnidaria, like jellyfish, but are not a jellyfish. They float on the open sea and have what looks like sails on them, so they float directionally with the wind. By-the-wind sailors also have tentacles. 

Well, if that wasn’t exciting enough, among the by-the-wind sailors I was examining, I found several purple sea snails. Now, I had given up on ever finding one since I had bee reading that I could only find them in Key West, and I had no plans of traveling there. Defeated, I had bought one at a shell shop in Sanibel. But, this day, I had a hand-full of them. My favorite actually has the bubble raft attached. The bubble raft keeps them buoyant. I should have done my homework better and not given up so soon. Purple sea snails prey upon Portuguese man-o-war and by-the-wind sailors, so I was bound to find them here in the West Palm Beach area.

I added to my seabean collection, too. I finally found the following: 2 brown hamburger beans, several Hog plum mesocarp, and some more bay beans.

Another thing we saw that was so cool and caught the attention of my boys: a beached tree trunk covered with both goose barnacles and duck barnacles.  I found a 5 inch piece of drift wood with goose barnacles attached for my collection.

We didn’t see any new birds on the trip although I did spot a total of 4 crested caracaras along the way home.  There were plenty of osprey and hawks as well.

What a great trip!

Creature of Siesta Key

I’ve heard about the green iguana invading our Key. I’ve heard its call or whatever that sound it makes around dusk. I’ve heard the stories of the iguana hanging out near neighbor’s doors in the late evening.

When I was walking my dog I stopped to say hi to a neighbor who immediately told me that the house two from mine had a large green iguana on the patio.  I headed back home and grabbed my husband to walk around my neighbor’s house looking for it.  She is a sweet lady and has a yellow lab who hangs out on the back patio and so I was concerned if it was still there and she went to put the dog outside…well it could be scarey. We didn’t find it.  A few days later a friend sent me an email that had been circulating about a green iguana (maybe 2 feet long) that was caught on the Key. It originated with another neighbor (behind my house and one down). He caught the thing in his pool net and called animal control. They later notified him that the iguana was pregnant with 50 eggs in her. Ugh. What an infestation.
Well, I heard back from my friend during the recent cold snap asking if I’d seen any iguana’s in the morning. Apparently they go into hypothermic shock and fall out of the trees. Too cool, except if you’re walking under that tree.
Enjoy the pics.