Minerals Matter

The peaceful afternoon I was sharing with an Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) was short-lived. A second butterfly swooped in and forced off the first one. Apparently, a good mud puddle is hard to find.

Puddling is usually practiced by the males of the species to gather sodium, minerals, and amino acids which are not found in nectar. They store these necessary supplements in their sperm and pass this nutritious bundle to the female during mating.

This, in turn, helps the female with egg production. So in essence, though the male has no contact with his offspring, he’s actually being a good dad.

My difficulty with this experience is, that as best I can determine, these butterflies are not males. I’m basing this on the white coloration of the two rows of spots as well as the iridescent blue scaling on the upper side of the hind wings, which are both female characteristics.

Then again, nature doesn’t have to follow the book, its not like these butterflies can read…

IMG_9163

Beach Hair, Don’t Care

This Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) is rocking a crazy do. Which is pretty close to how my hair looks most days, thanks to long beach walks. Don’t worry, I’ll suffer through.

Storm Damage

IMG_9186

Turtle Nest, Treasure Island, Florida June 2020

I took advantage of a break in the storm late yesterday morning to walk the beach. Though it was windy and the surf was up, I was happy to have the sand between my toes. I was surprised by the changes on my beach.

Typically, there’s about a football field of sand to cross before reaching the water. But that wasn’t the case, in most places there wasn’t any dry sand as the waves were touching the dunes.

Sadly, most of the sea turtle nests that were recorded here along the Florida Gulf Coast last month are washing away. Including the one here on my stretch of beach. I snapped this shot about an hour before high tide yesterday afternoon, so I fully expect it to be completely destroyed by now.

Though tropical storm Cristobal is making landfall over in Louisiana, the storm surge combined with the full moon exacerbated the coastal impact. In fact, I just learned there’s term for it; storm tide.

For your edification: A storm surge is an increase in water pushed onshore by the rotating winds associated with hurricanes and lesser systems. While a storm tide is the combination of a storm surge with an astronomical tide. These are the ones that can cause the most flood-related issues.

I admit, I am trepidatious about this hurricane season. Especially since NOAA is predicting an above normal one with an estimated 13-19 named storms. I take some comfort in knowing that the last major hurricane hit Tampa in 1920. Though there’s another way of looking at that, the area may be long overdue…

Tropical Storm and Hurricane Trajectories Since Recordkeeping Began in 1842, Courtesy of NOAA

Not WYSIWYG

The diversity in coloration and even facial markings of Blue Jays is quite remarkable. There aren’t any plumage or size differences between the sexes, nor do they dress up for breeding season like other species. But each individual is slightly unique. I suppose as a communal bird that helps them tell each other apart?

As you may already know, their feathers are not actually blue. The blue we see is the result of light refracting through special structures on the feather barbs. The intensity of the blue is controlled by the amount of melanin, which is actually a brown pigment.

Apparently, Nature does not adhere to the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) principle.

 

Rodent Reflection

IMG_3057

Close-up, Walsingham Park, Largo, Florida June 2020

This Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) decided its best course of action was to pretend to be a statue, “Nothing to see here, folks, I’m just a branch!”

If you look closely you can see my silhouette in its eye. Now don’t fret, my zoom lens afforded me that opportunity while I still maintained proper social distancing. I didn’t linger long before slowly backing away and allowing the squirrel to resume its busy lifestyle.