Florida, Day 2: H.T. Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a small natural area right in the middle of highly urbanized Fort Lauderdale, Florida.



As you can see, it is not too far from the Everglades (big green area). Still, it was surprising to discover just how many things were inside.

Honeybees in a water lily

Water lilies are amazing flowers – the lilypads and lilies sprout from tubers buried deep in the mud and then spread over the top of the pond. The lilies open in the sun and then close at night, or when it’s cloudy. They have a strong, sweet, spiced fragrance that attracts bees and other pollinators. Once pollinated, these flowers can produce seeds, which are then carried to other parts of the pond (or other ponds).

Golden Silk Orb Weaver – Female is the large one, male is the small one behind her – he’s very tiny! It’s not uncommon for male spiders to be smaller than the females  – you can read more about that here.

Crab Spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis)

From University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web:

This tiny spider is an interesting species for study and research. Additionally, the fact that G. cancriformis preys on small insects in citrus groves helps farmers to control pests. Since there is clinal variation in these animals in the different areas where they are found, researchers are able to study genetic variation, clines, and adaptations to a specific environments. (Muma, 1971)

Northern Mockingbird— so many of them here. No wonder why it is Florida’s state bird.  This was singing loudly from the shady branches of the mangrove swamp. One of the only birds to be singing in the middle of the afternoon!

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (link) … Hunting… (Watched him for quite a while — didn’t seem to mind that I was there, watching him the same way he watched the ground.)

He got it! Yellow-crowned night heron catches a tasty meal — a small lizard.

One such lizard — there are so many here. For every step you take down the trail, you hear at least two scampering away in the leaves.

Eastern Racer (link) — sliding along the trail in the leaves.

Gopher Tortoise (link) – Funny enough, he crossed right by the “Gopher Tortoise” sign.

Fig Sapling – growing inside a whole in this magnificent fig tree.

Fig leaves & berries

That’s all for today!


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