Showing posts with label trail tales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trail tales. Show all posts

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 5

While out photographing orchids in the Florida panhandle, we found this lovely specimen growing in a roadside bog. This is the white-topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla).

Pitcher plants are a type of carnivorous plant, trapping insects in a pool of liquid inside the hollowed-out leaves. The inside of the pitcher is waxy and covered with downward-pointing hairs that make it easy for an insect to fall in but difficult to get out. The pool of liquid contains digestive fluids that break down the insects into basic nutrients that the plants can absorb...nutrients that are generally lacking in the highly acidic bog soil where these plants grow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 4

On the day when a colleague, Rich Leighton, and I went to photograph the White Fringed Orchid, he mentioned that there was a scenic waterfall at a local park not too far away, Falling Creek Falls Park, north of Lake City. Since we had a few hours of sunlight left, I was game to check it out...waterfalls are as rare as hen's teeth in Florida.

It's a very nice, small park maintained by the Suwannee Water Management District. Falling Creek is itself a small tributary of the Suwannee River. Here is a page with info on the park:

>>> Falling Creek Falls Park <<<

The waterfall itself plunges over a limestone ledge 10 feet or so into the pool below. The strength of the waterfall is intimately tied to water levels...during the dry season, it's barely a trickle, while during the wet season, you can hear the falls a good bit before you see them.

Click the picture below for an expanded view:

This is a typical 'blackwater creek', colored by tannic acid released by decaying vegetation along the creek's route. Tannic acid is the same ingredient that gives a nice glass of southern sweetened iced tea its brownish color. This also gives the falls a distinctively tan-brown color.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 3

On the day we went to see Pteroglossaspis pottsii in flower, we saw a Butterfly Pea (Centrosema virginianum) in flower:

This flower one of many 'orchid imposters' we have in the state of Florida, with lovely, two-inch-long (5 cm long), purple flowers that, to an untrained eye, may appear to be an orchid. This flower, in fact, belongs to a member of the pea family, which is about as far away from being an orchid as you can get.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 2

A week or two later, one of my older daughters, Sarah, and I went back to the same preserve from part number 1 to try to photograph one of the two native species of orchids found here (Habenaria odontopetala and Epidendrum magnoliae). I was recounting the tale from the last time, instructing her in no uncertain terms that she should keep an eye on the ground carefully to make sure she didn't step on a cottonmouth. As I was pontificating, Sarah was trying to quietly get my attention, "Dad....Dad....Dad". "What?" I say. "Look ahead up the trail". Right there, about 100 feet away, was a young black bear. I managed to get out my camera and fire off a shot before he/she noticed us and scampered off quickly into the woods (the Floridian population of Ursus americanus is known for its relative shyness). This was only the second time in my life I've seen a black bear...once, I saw a young bear scampering away in the Tallahassee area as I was walking in the woods.

Here is the photo from the day:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trail Tales (or Stuff I've Seen While Hunting For Orchids), Part 1

One fine morning, while hiking back out of a local wildlife sanctuary, I was about to step on what I thought was a stick, when, suddenly, my eyes detected a distinctively non-stick-like pattern. It turned out to be a youngish cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) sunning itself in the trail. Thankfully, these snakes are not nearly as aggressive as legend says they are (it is my understanding that they get this mistaken reputation from highly aggressive, non-poisonous water snakes). A quick flick with my walking stick near the tail, and this fellow(ette) decided the swamp on the other side of the trail was more to his/her liking.

As of yet, I've not been bitten by a venomous snake...I'm praying that it stays that way.
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