Flora, Fauna, and Oh God, What Is That?

It’s another day in paradise. Yesterday I learned about a secret little cove near my house where lots of turtles (and fish) hang out. It’s on a small lake with lots of big shade trees and the turtles are rumored to enjoy stale bread from passers-by. Later I plan to test the theory that turtles who eat stale bread will also eat stale popcorn. I feel confident that this will be a positive test. Turtles aren’t known for having a very discerning palate. I hope they’re smarter than the bass with whom they share the water. Otherwise, there are going to be fat fish and skinny turtles. No wonder they’re snapping—they’re hungry. Maybe they should eat more fish.

In addition to turtles, I have a number of water birds hanging around my house including the amazing and surprisingly domestic Sandhill Cranes, Little Blue Herons, and lots and lots of Ibises. Ibi? I don’t know what the plural of Ibis is. Non-water birds hang around here too, including a brazen Redheaded Woodpecker banging his head on the palm tree in my front yard, and the ubiquitous crows. Also, there are a bunch of noisy old pigeons. Mockingbirds are another noisy avian and I’ve recently learned they’re the state bird of Florida. They will eat discarded curly fries. I discovered this yesterday when I discarded some curly fries at the beach. I considered taking the curly fries home for the turtles but it seemed like a lot of work for some turtles who just float in the water all day looking bored. Also, I was wearing a swimming suit so the problem of where to store the uneaten curly fries was an issue.

Here’s a tip about birds on the beach: the signs that warn you to be mindful should be heeded. The Black Skimmers nest on the beach and there are signs during fledging season that say “chick crossing—watch for birds on the ground.” My suggestion is you just steer very clear of the whole area. Mom and Dad Skimmer will dive bomb your @$$ for getting too close to Skimmer Junior. I may have had to run away quickly with my towel on my head.

In addition to birds and turtles, there are also a crap-ton of lizards here. They’re kind of cool looking when they don’t startle me. I mean you can’t take a step outside without scattering the little guys. And gals. I’ve figured out the Brown Anoles sex characteristics at this point, I think. The females are smaller and sleeker, while the males are beefier, and tend to act like gym rats when I walk up by puffing out their throats and doing push-ups. Seriously, lizard push-ups is a thing I did not make up. 

Last but not least, there are bugs. Big bugs. Ugly bugs. Mean bugs. I don’t even know what the hell is going on bugs. I sprayed toxic chemicals inside my house bugs. This was a successful endeavor. For me, not the bugs. I know this because I found their giant corpses on the carpet. They took revenge. I was stung by a wasp yesterday and I am covered in itchy red spots. Just talking about this makes me want to scratch all over. I saw a bug the other day that looked like a giant ant with lobster claws. What. The. Hell. Florida? Maybe the turtles could cut down on the carbs and eat more protein.

In summation, I am enjoying discovering the flora and fauna here in the subtropical wonderland, even when I get stung, bitten, or otherwise harangued. I’ll let you know when I see some mammals.