How would I get any new critter photos? It was grey, and either pouring or just about to pour all day long.
When it did pause for an hour of sunshine, the nagging porch job demanded that time.
I guess I worried needlessly, because one by one, critters kept popping up around PFHQ.
I forget sometimes that I live "out there", so it's not always necessary to go somewhere else to find wildlife.
I probably have photos for 5 or 6 posts just from the photos taken while working on the porch steps.
Today's example of that is below.
This little gopher baby was spotted by a sharp-eyed user of our Mowflex while cutting the "lawn". After a week of rain, the bahia grass had shot for the sky, and since it had been "get you in trouble with the neighborhood association of lawn Nazis if you have the misfortune to live in that kind of Animal Farm neighborhood high", it was pretty prairie-like.
So there I was working and whining, when the chief mower brought me this cute little gopherling.
Here's a view of gopher earth moving equipment.
Pretty impressive stuff.
I have, in my opinion, a thriving gopher tortoise colony here at PFHQ and this little fresh baby is more evidence for that. I haven't done an accurate count lately, but burrows abound and most of PFHQ's ten square acres is the kind of broken forest with plenty of open areas that gophers prefer.
Just for you herpetologists out there ... here's a view of the baby's plastron.
I treasure my gopher colony because they are a link to my heritage and because, thanks to exotic pet tortoises brought in from overseas, they are now threatened by a respiratory virus ... among other things.
The link to my heritage is the fact that gophers are delicious and my St. Augustine Minorcan childhood was occasionally fueled by gopher stew as it was a common food item.
You know how today you might see a notice for a Church benefit fish fry?
In my formative years, the notice would just have easily said "Gopher Stew".
They were plentiful before carpetbagger condo developers paved their habitat and could be pulled from their burrows with a cane pole that had a dull hook at the end. The hook caught the edge of the shell near a leg opening and the gopher puller ... did just that.
I could never eat one of these guys today even if it was legal. Across the state, gopher populations have declined dramatically as their preference for high, well drained soils matches the preference of subdivision developers ... plus there is that pet trade virus out there.
"My" colony is fairly isolated from areas with the virus and seem to be healthy and vigorous. They are the easiest of animals to coexist with and cause me no problems. I am careful to do the same for them. These days we need each other, in some ways obvious, and others, harder to explain.
After all, we are both relics of a different, wilder Florida.
"They're on a similar course, it's just a different source, but I'm in danger of extinction too."