Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AIRIE Residency: Update #1

Tricolored Heron; Anhinga Trail; Everglades National Park; October 2011

As expected, my WiFi access is limited to Florida City's Starbucks. Rather than spend too much of my two weeks in Florida driving between my dormitory in Everglades National Park and this too-cold coffee chain so that I can regularly check email and provide HH updates, I'll post sparingly. Following the residency, I'll write a substantial essay about my experiences here. I've having a terrific time, despite my catching a cold on the airplane and contending with near constant rain these first four days.

Tropical House Gecko; AIRIE Dorm Room View; Everglades National Park; October 2011

Notes From Days 1, 2, & 3:
- A sign at the park's entrance gate informs visitors that the mosquito level is "high." A friendly park employee told me there are many more mosquitoes than normal for mid-October and explained that the number is a result of above average rainfall. In two days, I've been bitten over a dozen times. I dislike the itching, of course, but I don't particularly mind being a critical part of the Everglades food chain (see the sign below).

Willingness to be fed upon aside, I'm also happy that I have a tropical house gecko as my roommate. Mosquitos may be small snacks for a gecko, but I like to think the lizard will prey on them as eagerly as it will larger insects (like cockroaches). Everglades biologists might appreciate having an insect eater in their homes, too, but they probably wouldn't smile on this particular species; the house gecko is one of three invasive gecko species in the Everglades.

Food Web Sign; Anhinga Trail; Everglades National Park; October 2011

- There's been no sun since I arrived. The silver lining is that the park trails and roads are relatively uncrowded. On Anhinga Trail's "boardwalk," I sat for 15-20 minutes without another park visitor passing. In a nearby corkwood tree, I observed a female American redstart, an immature female black-and-white warbler, and a male black-throated blue warbler. All three of these bird species were "firsts" for me.

Stalking Great Egret; Anhinga Trail; Everglades National Park; October 2011

- I also watched two red-winged blackbirds hunt for insects by hopping from lily pad to lily pad on the surface of a flooded ditch, behavior I'd not seen before.

Water Lily; Taylor Slough; Everglades National Park; October 2011

Photo credits: all photos, Hungry Hyaena (Christopher Reiger), 2011

No comments: