Sunday, August 20, 2006

Amaryllis Island

Yesterday, I realized my stash of new photos had dwindled. I blame this on my recent return to work and the resulting clash of work time vs. photography time. It had gotten to the point where I was photographing broken coffee makers...imagine.

So, I stepped out in the morning steam yesterday with my camera, intending to wander down to the pond or some other crittery place. It had rained hard the night before (and again this morning ... yes!) so I thought something might be moving.

Sure enough, the young velvet buck and his entourage were in the front yard eating my cosmos, a scant 20 feet from a porch full of sleeping dogs. The buck has changed dramatically, his twin spikes are now proudly branching into a beautiful rack.

The deer saw me and slowly walked off towards the treeline. I had swung up for a photo, but the change in humidity from freezing airconditioned house (Mrs. FC) to steamy real Florida fogged my lens and the moment was one to remember on wetware, not hardware.

I stepped off the porch and had taken about 3 steps when the scene below caught my eye. On a giant peppermint amaryllis plant (that needs division) were two unusual hoppers.

"This will do ", I thought.

I knelt down for a closer look. The hoppers were angling their long antennae towards me as if taking a reading on this big interloper.

They were sporting kind of a Cindy Lauper clash of colors ... or is it more Boy George?

When I gently pushed an amaryllis leaf aside for more light on the hoppers, I found this huge land snail munching in a private dining room. This is a really big land snail for north Florida. We don't have the big beautiful tree snails of south Florida.

So, after the hoppers and the snail discovery, I was curious as to who else might be hanging out on Amaryllis Island. I walked slowly around it, looking under and over the leaves and sure enough, I found one more inhabitant. This young Carolina Anole was sunning in the upper regions. He has an amazingly long tail, most have tails in various states of stubby regeneration after close calls with predators.

I had gone all of five steps from my porch and had something to share with you thanks to Amaryllis Island.

Amaryllis Island Floridians out there may be thinking what I'm thinking. Somewhere in Florida, there's a gated community of cookie cutter identical stuccoed hip-roofed houses crammed shoulder to shoulder on 1/4 acre lots called Amaryllis Island.

If not, it's on some developer's drawing board. Posted by Picasa


swamp4me said...

Oh, how I do love the little things! I am very envious of your carolina anole...we are just north of their range here :(

And you're probably right about the Amaryllis Island development. I cringe every time I pass the Wharf's Landing housing development on my way to work. The irony is that the property doesn't border any body of water -- so where the heck is the Wharf?? Maybe it was supposed to be "Worf's Landing" and was intended to commemorate the arrival of Klingons on Earth...

Rurality said...

I saw an amazingly similar hopper on the hinge of my screen door yesterday. But I was so hot that I just came on into the AC instead of going for the camera. (I'm with Mrs. FC!)

swamp4me said...

Treebeard wants to know if that is a red-headed meadow katydid, Orchelimum erythrocephalum. He says all you need to do to find out for sure, since it's a male, is to check the supra-anal plate and the cercus. Can you run out and do that for him? ;)

robin andrea said...

That's a lot of wildlife on those leaves, FC. Glad you grabbed that camera and walked out the door to inspect.

Mrs. S said...

5 steps from your house?! That's incredible.

I especially like the lizard shot, and I am especially glad that he has a nice long tail, theoretically proving his superior brain/escaping power over the other lizards? I wonder if the male lizards get together and try to prove their machoness by "tail measuring" the way young men do around here? And... would a short tail be better ("Look at that stump! I swear, that bird was the size of New York!") or would longer be better ("Yeah, I've had a couple close calls, but I always manage to outsmart those stupid predators before they get close enough to give my tail a swipe")?

Am I the only person who thinks of these things?

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

You definately made a wise investment when you bought your new digital camera...Your pictures are so crisp & clear. I really love the colorful grasshopper and I'm going to try to inspect ours a little more closely to see whether perhaps ours might have more color to them than just plain green.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

"If not, it's on some developer's drawing board" ..... And they will probably have to hold a lottery to see which lucky people will have the opportunity to purchase these homes. They call this "progress"

Floridacracker said...

You are the expert at finding the not-so-obvious.
Supra anal... I don't know... I just met these hoppers today, seems kind of intrusive. They do look pretty katydidish so TB is probably right. (I really am not an insect person)

Great minds...

This was pretty convenient.

Mrs. S,
Perhaps in the lizard world size does matter. As you implied, bigger might say, I'm smarter and faster.
Whatever the lizardy truth is, you made me laugh out loud with your ponderings :)

Thanks. We have some hoppers here that flash orange and blue when they fly.

You know it. You would think that Florida would not need any more subdivisions. Surely the first wave of retirees are dieing off and leaving empty houses...

Laura said...

I can't remember when I last saw a grasshopper that colorful. If they weren't so cruel to my plants, I'd let them live long and prosper.
But now I think I will collect their little greenish yellow bodies and keep them in an aquarium.

When I find the next Amaryllis Island, I'm gonna release a thousand of the buggers inside the sales office.
Got the idea from the book, "Hoot."
(It could work. snakes are another option but hub won't go along with it, sheeish!)

I had to laugh when I read your first paragraph about photographing the broken coffee maker.
As we made coffee this morning,I was actually wondering if you had replaced the coffee maker!

Deb said...

That's one colorful hopper!

Funny how developers come up with those names. I've noticed that they either describe something exotic, or something that they have replaced. I guess if a development honors and protects what makes that particular piece of land unique, it wouldn't be a development.

Floridacracker said...

Yes, I am back in business with a brand new coffee machine. I love your idea...maybe balloons filled with fire ants...

That is so true...the name often mimics the very thing they bulldozed.

Debbie said...

I love nature! It's so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the photos.

Wayne said...

Yes, that hopper is extraordinary. Great photos of it too. I always enjoy encountering our anoles. Especially when they start displaying!

Somewhere someone is probably asking the equivalent of - why did they call it "Amaryllis"? Who is Amaryllis?

Oh yes, the phenomenon of photograph depletion. Well known around here. Then it's time to take another walk.

Thunder Dave said...

Nice photos! I think I'm past due for Hop update, and they're looking pretty good too!

threecollie said...

Nifty grasshoppers. We are guilty of catching little ones like that and feeding them to our pet rock bass (he followed us home from camp)
And I envy you the lizards. We are about five or six counties too far north or west to enjoy the 5-lined skink, although my uncle saw one once. Not too many lizards of any kind in NY

Floridacracker said...

Me too! There's always something new out there.

Luckilly I took a short walk yesterday when I was supposed to be running errands.

Definitely past due.

When my pond had water and fish, I did the same!

Hick said...

Your photos are bee-utiful. Are they digital.

You should apply for a job at National Geographic. My favorite is the lizard but the hopper is certainly colorful.

Floridacracker said...

National Geo...I wish! Thanks!