Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Botany and Birding

We have been busy almost every weekend since we've returned to Florida, exploring the parks and forests in the area. This past weekend was no exception. On Saturday we joined the Sweet Bay Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society in a field trip to Torreya State Park, led by well known botanist, Gil Nelson. Torreya State Park is named after the Torreya tree, an endangered species, threatened by a fungal disease. This unique tree can only be found on the slopes along the Apalachicola River. There are efforts to recover this species, however, it has not been determined where the fungus came from or how we can stop it from spreading. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens have been successfully growing torreya trees in hopes of eventually reestablishing populations in areas where they have disappeared. If you visit Torreya State Park you can see "captive" Torreya trees growing at the Gregory House. The park is a beautiful place any time of year, but the fall is especially captivating as the leaves are changing on the slopes along the Apalachicola.

Gil Nelson teaching the group about Florida's
native plants at Torreya State Park.
Below is a partial list of the speices we found:

Site lists for areas of interest in the Panhandle can be found on Gil Nelson's website. Overall it was a very productive trip with 20-30 participants taking part.

Green anoles were in abundance on the forest floor, and I found a Florida redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata obscura) in the leaf litter. One of the other nature enthusiasts, Robin, spotted a grizzled mantis climbing up a tree. Fungi were also abundant and I’ve done my best to identify those we saw. If you notice a mislabeled species or one without a label, please feel free to contact us if you know what it is! Although I am learning, I am by no means a botanist, and your input is appreciated. We strive to provide
accurate, educational information.

After the field trip to Torreya we headed down towards Lake Powell where a group of friends were having an appetizer cook off and bonfire; a great way to wind down at the end of a long day in the woods!

The next morning we left Lake Powell early to make it back to Florida Caverns State Park in time for a bird walk at 9 am. The bird activity was pretty minimal so we didn’t see much to note, but it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning. What a great weekend!