Nearly Extinct Atala, Birds & Bugs & Reptiles too, Oh My (9/17/21)

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zackiedawg
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Nearly Extinct Atala, Birds & Bugs & Reptiles too, Oh My (9/17/21)
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Time for another wildlife thread from the wetlands - this time, I'm posting photos taken on May 15, 2021 - a short day out as the heat and humidity were getting pretty strong by then...heat indexes had moved into the 105-110 range, and the humidity is even higher when you're standing in a swamp over hot, shallow dark water which creates a constant steam of moisture hanging over the area - it's essentially 100% humidity.

The very small but quite beautiful atala butterflies were laying their eggs on the one and only plant that they will lay them on - this butterfly only exists in the southeastern tip of Florida and some Caribbean islands, and the Florida subspecies will only live and nest on one plant - the coontie.

The coontie was harvested heavily at the turn of the 20th century for its edible starch, and the last of these butterflies was seen in the late 1930s, and though to be extinct.  Then in the late 50s they discovered some living on a small coastal island.  Since then, they've replanted coontie throughout the area, and the butterflies have made a comeback

A juvenile pied-billed grebe, trying to figure out where its mom went diving off to, and hoping she'll come up with some food.  The bright red bill and black-and-white stripes on the head are how you know it's a juvenile

The black-necked stilts had started their nests and were guarding eggs - so they were very active - anything that comes within range of their nests gets circled, yelled at, or chased.  Even me walking by on the boardwalk will get some cautious circles of alarm to make sure I'm not a threat

If you follow my wildlife posts, you know red-winged blackbirds all recently had a lot of young chicks too...so that means a big, threatening red-shouldered hawk flying casually by must be chased and harassed by poppa blackbird, to get it away from the nest.  The hawk commonly eats birds like this - so it's quite ballsy to see them chasing their predator so aggressively!

That hawk flew through the same grounds as the stilt nests - so they too were quite upset and still calling alarm and circling around the sky, trying to make sure it didn't come back

On the low passes, the male stilt would fly past its nest and mom sitting on it, calling out to make sure she's OK

One more shot of the vigilant stilt on flying guard duty

And we can't have a thread from this time of year without a shot of the ubiquitous pig frog!

Another black-necked stilt, relaxing in some shallow water

A Needham's skimmer dragonfly at the end of a reed

This fish crow had landed on the rail to claim some leftovers - probably left there from a hawk.  Hard to tell just what it was, but it kind of looked like a basilisk lizard's tail - whoever the original predator was seemed to have eaten all the meat and just left the entrails - which the crow was claiming for himself

A blue dasher dragonfly - they really love to perch at the tip of the reeds to dock and rest

This cooter turtle had climbed onto a submerged palm tree, and was looking up yearnfully - it's surprising just how high off the ground these turtles can get themselves with that bulky heavy shell - he seemed to be considering the ascent of his own Mt. Everest

Speaking of basilisk lizards - here's what one looks like from the outside rather than the inside - hanging out on a cypress palm trunk to get some sun

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as ever.

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Justin
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