Orange Dog

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly larva, St Petersburg, Florida May 2022

Discovered another welcome addition to my growing pollinator habitat this week. I was about to trim a branch off my Meyer Lemon tree but once I noticed this caterpillar (cleverly disguised as bird poop) I changed my mind. My little tree will remain lopsided until after my “orange dog” completes metamorphosis.

It will be worth the wait, the aptly-named Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) is the largest on our continent!

Paddling My Hood

One of the many reasons to appreciate our long* summer days, there’s plenty of time to go for a quick paddle after work. And yes, I know, it isn’t technically summer yet – it just feels like it down here.

I’m fortunate that I can drop in right across the street from my house. I’m looking forward to more outings soon!

*Lucky me, the 13+ hours of daylight started earlier this month and will continue through the end of August.

Deceptively Calm

I love spending time at the beach near me and even though the Gulf of Mexico is much less dangerous than the (poorly-named) Pacific Ocean I still have a healthy respect for it.

Sadly, one of a group of swimmers who went out last evening remains unaccounted for. I spotted five rescue boats still searching for the man when I went for my sunset walk today, a full twenty four hours later.

Though it’s unlikely, I’m hoping for a positive outcome.

Drive South

Took a little road trip this past week, no set schedule, just wanted to getaway for a bit. So, to paraphrase the John Hiatt song, we hopped in the car and Drove South.

We toured Sanibel Island in the afternoon before catching a stunning sunset at the historic Naples Fishing Pier. It was such a lovely stroll that it made me wish there was one like that up here on Treasure Island.

Headed a bit further down the peninsula the next morning to explore the western side of the Everglades (I’d neglected this region during my visit back in 2019). We had the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk pretty much to ourselves. Well, there was some wildlife out there, not as much as I’d hoped but still a good time.

Afterwards we decided to check out Chokoloskee Island, (part of the infamous Ten Thousand Islands). Talk about a tiny fishing village at the end of the world! We stopped off for some refreshment at the Smallwood Store and were tempted by the Guava Cheese Pie. I’d never heard of it before but it was delicious, kind of like Key Lime Pie but less tart.

While sitting on the dock enjoying the view we met a new friend, a juvenile Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota). I kept a close eye on it while it slithered around (hey, in flip-flops my toes probably looked quite yummy).

The return trip took us through Everglades City, the Stone Crab Capital of the World. I’ve heard about this tasty treat since moving here so where better to actually try some? The meat was moist and decadent (and the claws were so colorful). Also tried their conch fritters, and they were the best I’ve ever eaten.

It was a long drive home but well worth it!

Birds on the Block

Stopped at a tiny pocket park before work this afternoon. While the neighborhood kids played on the swings I was surprised by some feathery friends: Great Egret in breeding plumage, juvenile Wood Stork, and a Muscovy Duck with two of her ducklings.

This is one of many urban park spaces that provide for both people and wildlife in the St. Petersburg area. Interestingly, at the beginning of the month, the Trust for Public Land released its 2022 report and St. Petersburg is ranked number 14 in the nation. Pretty impressive!

Side note: Did you catch that the birds represent the various stages of life? From young to teenager to mature adult.