Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weather Identity Crisis

Today was another quiet and gloomy day. I don't think that the sky could make up its mind. Yesterday it was gray and it looked like it was just about to rain all day and it never did. Today, it was gray in the morning, then sunny, then cloudy, then sunny... I didn't know whether to stay inside or work outside today. I did both, until I got rained on.
At the gate this morning, the Morning Glories were glorious again. It seems like they have been blooming for such a long time. There was one bloom that had evidently been nibbled on by some little bug before it opened. It reminded me of making snowflakes out of paper when you fold, cut, and then open up to see mirrored patterns. When I stopped to check the honor station this morning, there was a lot going on. There was a tiny spider under the Plexiglas cover to the brochure box. The picture was not very interesting. There was also a tiny mushroom that kind of looked inside-out. The gills were on the top of it. Then I noticed a Walking Stick on the back of our park sign. Apparently, it didn't realize that its excellent camouflage didn't work very well on flat, shiny things. Can you tell which end is its head? Its the end up to the right, but a third set of long legs stretch out past its head.
IMG_2856After opening and driving around the park, I went to the office and picked up the leaf blower. Before I started up the noisemaker, there was another noisemaker in the park. An adult Red-shouldered Hawk was making itself known. For being such a beautiful, graceful, powerful bird, their call is really strange. Its disappointingly similar to a Crow's caw, just a little more whiny. I like the shriek of the juveniles better. You can enjoy its silhouette in the pine tree in peace though. I cleared the spring walkway and the parking lot. It was really nice to have a cool breeze blowing while I worked. At the end of the parking lot, there was a beautiful bush fruiting. It is appropriately named Beauty Berry.
Once the park was in good shape, I headed in to the office to get the paperwork done. I responded to e-mails and then was disappointed that there was still no one in the park. I drove out on the Gator to add some envelopes to the Entrance Station. I took some garbage to the dumpster and took a short drive through the back part of the park. It was still pretty windy and I was able to find some butterflies who were too busy holding on tight to the leaves they landed on to fly away while I tried to take their picture. The yellow butterfly is a female Cloudless Sulphur. I watched one of these butterflies flutter madly around a diver's bright yellow tank the other day. He said that yellow butterflies where always drawn to it. The next butterfly is another Buckeye. This one is much brighter than the other one I blogged about. With its wings drawn back a little, the way that they are, it really looks like a snake's face or something that might scare a bird or another predator of the butterfly. I was very happy to find several Partridge Pea in bloom out there. I found a little beetle that was happy they were in bloom also. A grasshopper caught my eye because I thought I saw a bright green stripe down its back. When I looked closer, I saw that it was a very small, bright green grasshopper on the back of a larger, brown grasshopper. I am guessing that the small one is male and the large one, female. I am just not sure though.
IMG_2882When I got back to the main area of the park, I talked to some divers and started heading back to the office just as the rain finally started. There was no gradual drizzle that built into a heavy rain. No, there were a few drops, then someone turned the faucet all the way on. It poured! I spent the rest of the afternoon in the office organizing photo files and adding my park photos to the park's computer. My photos are another resource that the park has for documenting the changes at the park, and can be used for future interpretive materials.

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