Monday, November 28, 2005

The Loxahatchee River at Jonathon Dickinson State Park

This 11,500-acre park is named for Jonathan Dickinson, who in 1696 was shipwrecked about 5 miles from here. Dickinson was probably one of the first explorers to sample palmetto berries, a staple of the local Jaegas Indian diet. He reported: "They taste like rotten cheese steeped in tobacco juice." I wonder if he got a reptile dysfunction. The Loxahatchee River is lined with mangrove trees. These "walking trees" did some walking during the hurricanes, I'm told.

Sunday was a good day for kayaking on the Loxahatchee. I drove about four miles into the park to the boat ramp and I saw this sign on the way in. I certainly would not entice an alligator. Nor am I in the habit of molesting them. But if one came dressed up nicely for dinner and rang my doorbell, I might feed him.

Does he look enticed? I hope not. I was pretty close.

This white ibis was shy. In the evening you can see small flocks of them fly in- land from John D MacArthur State Park to roost in the mangrove trees along the intercoastal. I saw quite a few while enjoying the sunset at the ancestral condo. My father insists they are ducks.

Nest sites are in mangroves, trees, and thickets, usually 2-15 feet above ground or water, sometimes higher or on the ground. The nest is built by both sexes, with the male bringing most material, and the female doing most of the building. Nesting material is often stolen from nests of other pairs. The nest is usually a platform of sticks, sometimes of cordgrass or reeds. Up to 5 eggs are laid, they are pale blue-green to white, blotched with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, and averages 21 days. Both parents feed the young, by regurgitation. The young may clamber about near the nest after 3 weeks, and can make short flights after 4-5 weeks, are capable of sustained flight at 6 weeks, and may leave the colony to forage with adults after 7 weeks

This great blue heron was fishing in the shallows.

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