Boca Beaches

One of the things that I admire about Boca is that, despite its many faults, it does have some semblance of a commitment to environmental practices. For instance, it isn’t supposed to groom the beach above high tide during turtle nesting season. So the beach gets a little ugly, but it keeps those gigantic machines off the turtle nests. Well, apparently no one told the operator of the giant beach groomer that we saw a few weeks back, chugging south along the beach well above the tide line. You can see how neat the beach above high tide looks in the picture below:

Thing is, this crawler was not limiting itself to the tide line. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of its path (it wasn’t something I was thinking of as I was concentrating on taking pictures of the boy and his lovely mother), but trust me: the adherence to this regulation is mighty loose…

It did manage to swerve around the marked turtle nests, but what if (heaven forbid!) the volunteer turtle nest spotters missed a nest? See below for a few shots of the nests and the metal mesh that is supposed to protect them from raccoon predation before hatching (nothing can protect a newly hatched turtle, or tern for that matter. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of crows waiting outside tern exclosures for the hatchlings to emerge, and gobbling them down one by one as they do). Note how deliciously untidy the beach is around them, with bits of seaweed everywhere. That’s what a beach is supposed to look like!

Not being a turtle expert, I’m not sure what kind of turtles are involved in these nests, but the most common turtle along our shores is the loggerhead, followed by green, then leatherback. If you had the hi-res photos, you could zoom in and see a CC on most of the signs. I assume that’s shorthand for Caretta caretta, the loggerhead turtle. The numbers would be the number of eggs in the nest, and the date, well, I would hope that’s self-explanatory: the date the nest was laid. So most of the nests I’ve seen have been loggerhead nests until I hear different from the people who conduct the research on the turtles of Boca. The studies areĀ conducted by the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, in conjunction with Florida Atlantic University.

The best books on sea turtles are still Archie Carr’s, particularly The Windward Road. The recent title by James Spotila updates Carr, but can’t match his prose. For an epic look at the leatherback, there’s the recent account by Carl Safina, Voyage of the Turtle.

Limbless lizards

It was a dry winter here in subtropical Florida, with quite a bit less rain than normal since November. The temperatures haven’t been too unbearable, but the weekend before Easter brought a taste of summer: mid-80s, humid, and plenty of sun. That weekend also happened to be one of the few that I had time to get my hands a little bit dirty in the garden. So, there I was, weeding the cocoplum/palm/oak islands in the front yard. And then, when I couldn’t take it any longer and moved over to a shady corner of the house, I discovered anĀ Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) hanging out in the cocoplum.

As you can see from the picture, I was actually getting my gloved hands dirty:

Eastern Glass Lizard, dorsal view

Eastern Glass Lizard, dorsal view

Readers of this blog may remember that finding a glass lizard is a fairly rare occurrence around our house; I’d only seen one of these little beasties previously. Read more

Backyard nature

Remember the Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough? Australian novel that got turned into a miniseries here in the States? I don’t. I wasn’t allowed to stay up late enough to watch it when it came out, and now I don’t really care too much to track it down and find out whether I’ve missed something or not. And why bother? I have all the drama I need right here in my backyard in Boca. Of course, you have to look a bit more closely; this is not the wide-open sweep of the Outback (even though it is, technically, out back).

Read more

Rainfall in August

Summer is the rainy season in Florida. This summer we have high hopes of a wet season, after a couple of years of drought. The winter was unusually wet, at least in the coastal regions, leaving our local wellfields quite full, although Lake Okeechobee, the region’s backup water supply, has been quite low for some time (scroll down for a graph showing just how long it’s been below the benchmark 10 feet). Read more