Making the rounds… 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:
Up close with army dillo

Up close with army dillo

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! Read more

Odds and ends

Some days you see a lot; others you don't. Yesterday at Fern Forest I couldn't go 100 yards without coming across another armadillo. Today, I didn't see a one. But what I did see was a bit of a puzzle. Anyone out there have any idea what this might be? I found it at the beginning of the Maple Walk in a tangle of dead Brazilian Pepper trees:

The Land That Time Forgot

Some places just feel old. Grab some tall trees, some worn stones, sprinkle in a few ferns, and add some creatures that look like dinosaurs, and you've got yourself a genuine lost world. And when it's one of the most densely developed counties in Florida, well, that's a real paradox. But that's Fern Forest. Today really drove home how wild a place can be even when it's smack in the heart of the city... Read more

Ferns, part two

Last week I started taking the name of my lunchtime site more seriously, and started looking more closely at the various ferns of Fern Forest. My homework has revealed more and more parallels between birds and ferns, by the way. Did you know that there is an ancestral plant species with fern-like leaves called Archaeopteris? And of course THE ancestral bird species is Archaeopteryx. Coincidence? ... I, actually. (For more on the ancestral bird species, see Gary Kaiser, The Inner Bird.) Seriously though, and as promised, I'm here to report on the results of my investigations at Fern Forest. Armed only with my Nikon P5100, my copy of Gil Nelson's Ferns of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide, Doug Scofield's website, and an all-too-brief lunch hour, I have successfully reinvented the wheel. That is, I have spent hours of personal investigation confirming what Gil and Doug have both written in plain English: the identifying characteristics of certain of the more abundant fern species are pretty plain. Once you understand how to see them. Read more

More on ferns…later

I went back to Fern Forest yesterday, and very nearly enjoyed my stroll through the Maple Walk. I say very nearly, because the ladies of Fern Forest were out in force yesterday, and their constant attention, while flattering, made the walk much less comfortable than it would normally have been. And to top it all off, assimilating all this information about pteridophytes is a real challenge. As soon as I've got everything squared away, I'll update you all.

Fern homework

Today was such a beautiful day that I just knew, even before I went in to work, that I would be going to the park for lunch. Fern Forest is my absolute favorite spot in Broward County to take lunch, because it has so many different trails, and each one has limitless opportunities for a curious naturalist around every corner. Today, though, didn't turn out as planned, because I decided to do some homework. Since fall migration is pretty much over in Florida, and I no longer need to stalk every tree and bush with binoculars, lately I've been thinking about, well, the same thing I'd thought about the last couple of times migration ended here: getting better acquainted with the plants that give the park its name; that is, the Ferns. And in order to do so, before I left for the park today, I decided to delve into the introductory chapter of my Ferns of Florida field guide and reference, by Gil Nelson. What I discovered there was enough to make me postpone today's trip until I've had a chance to absorb the lessons. Read more

Fern Forest Wandering

Today was the second day in a row of seasonable temperatures at Fern Forest, and I decided to try some more practice at digiscoping. My ratio of successes to failures is slightly better, but I'm not sure whether that's just because I've figured out how to focus, or whether it's attributable to random chance. I still haven't hit on the perfect setting for the camera: I vary between landscape, which one would assume locks focus to infinity but doesn't really seem to, macro, which is actually useful for handheld photography, less so for digiscoping, and auto. So far, the prize seems to go to auto. Read more
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