…at Fern Forest. I’ve been frantically trying to wrap up the loose ends here, because it looks like my office will be moving downtown, “with the neon lights so pretty,” but where nature will also be a lot more scarce than it is here way out west. So, before the move (if and when it occurs), I’m doing everything I can to soak up everything I can about my favorite spot.
As loyal readers will recall, I didn’t find any armadillos yesterday, but today I found three of them; the one below allowed me to get up nice and close:
In fact, this little guy was fearless: not only was I able to get as close as I wanted to it, but I actually was able to touch it without eliciting so much as a grunt!
The reason I was doing this, which I normally never would, is that I’d found out during my FMNP courses that the armadillo has an interesting startle reflex: when threatened, it will spring straight up in the air a foot or two to confound its predators. Imagine the look on a dog’s face when this happens! (Imagine also the evolutionary problem here, when the armadillo encounters a car. Boing-crunch… No need to worry about this particular guy/gal ending in that way, though. I did everything I could to get it to display this behavior: I yelled at it, I stomped up to it quickly, I poked my camera so close to it that I couldn’t even get its face in the frame:
After all of this unusual behavior on my part failed to elicit the desired behavior on its part, I went even further: I actually tapped it a couple of times with my boot! Unruffled, it continued rooting through the grass as though nothing had happened. Either it was really hungry, or it has gotten really used to people!
After my frustrating encounter with the army dillo, I went ahead to straighten out in my own head a couple more fern species.
Swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), which, despite its name I find more frequently in the pine woods than in “the swamp”:
B. serrulatum looks pretty similar, apparently, to its cousin, B. occidentale, Hammock fern. However, the “conspicuously toothed edges” (Nelson) distinguish the former from the latter. Swamp fern is fairly common at Fern Forest, and it’s nice to finally be confident in the ID when I encounter it.
And also a common fern (at many sites, but not here), bracken (Pteridium aquilinum):
When I get the chance, I think I’ll publish a fern photo gallery, just to keep things straight… And, while I’m thinking about it, here’s a rough draft:
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But the real reason I even started writing this post is that, while I was “making the rounds” with my fern guide, trying like mad to get a handle on this crazy world of the pteridophytes, I ran across a wildflower that I didn’t recognize at all. And I wanted to know just what the heck it is, so I snapped a few shots, and once I get home to my Taylor and look it up. If it’s not in Taylor, I’ll head to the classic Taylor & Bell where I’m almost sure to find the answer.