Florida - March 11-18, 2006

Day 4 - Monday, March 13, 2006
This morning we headed down towards Key Biscayne to look for exotic lizards to photograph. Along the way we stopped in a little cluster of brush along a canal and found some Brown Anoles and two Five-lined Skinks.
We moved on to Key Biscayne.

We spent the rest of the daylight hours photographing wildlife at Key Biscayne.
One of our target species to locate and photograph this trip was Ctenosuara pectinata. This species of Spiny-tailed Iguana used to be believed to be widespread (as an introduced animal) in southern Florida although more recent examinations have found that almost all wild populations of Ctenosaur in south Florida are Ctenosaura similis. The population at Key Biscayne was approachable, so we thought we would start with them even though we knew they were similis.

Here's a pair of Spiny-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaura similis)
We saw lots of Ctenosaurs basking on rocks...
and trees
Some of the males were very colorful...
and had big teeth...
and weren't afraid to use them if pressed!
There were lots of smaller juveniles on rocks around the park as well.
On the trees overhanging waterways, we saw lots of Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana).
Some of the big males were quite striking!
There was quite a variation in color among the iguanas.

(I didn't notice the young Brown Basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus) sitting in the lower right hand corner of the frame until we got home.)
Some of the smaller individuals showed very bizarre patterns.
This was a beautiful black male basking on the bank of a canal...
another big adult on a tree overhead.
and this blue-headed Iguana on a branch nearby.

Not all the lizards we saw were these introduced giants - there were smaller exotic lizards as well.

We saw several species of non-native anole, including many Brown Anoles (Anolis sagrei).
Brown Anoles are highly variable in pattern.
Almost every upright structure seemed to have a resident Brown Anole.
We saw a few of these juvenile Crested Anoles (Anolis cristatellus).
Adult Crested Anoles have quite large crests, this is only a subadult.
We spent quite a while watching this pair of Bark Anoles (Anolis distichus).
The male was furiously trying to attract her attention with his dewlap.
I think they both resented our presence!

We did see a few native herps...

including this large adult American Crocodile which had made one of the ponds his home.
We watched this crocodile carefully stalking one of the resident feral Egyptian Geese, but when he got close, an obnoxious little kid ran up and scared the bird and croc away. The little turd then proceeded to throw rocks at the croc (his mother was busy on the phone, of course) until another park visitor stopped him.
If this croc had only been a little larger and bolder, it might have solved several problems at once!
I had my camera ready, just in case!

The only snake we saw was this Everglades Racer chasing lizards erratically around under this palmetto.
We think it caught one, because after all the chasing, it sat quite still for a few minutes.
It finally spotted us watching and disappeared into the bushes nearby before I could get a better photograph.
While the slider does occur in Florida, this appeared to be an old adult male of the non-native Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta).

We also saw a Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) and a lot of Florida Softshells (Apalone ferox). I'm not sure why I didnt take photos of either of them?

Key Biscayne offers some excellent opportunities for bird photography as well as the birds are quite used to people.

There were quite a few Great Egrets hunting small fish in the ponds.
This one got lucky.
This juvenile Little Blue Heron was skulking around the roots of a large tree
White Ibises were everywhere in the park, like the rest of Florida.
This Common Moorhen must have been in the witness protection program. As soon as I tried to take his photo, he plunged his head into the water to hide.
This American Coot wasn't nearly as shy.
This Anhinga tried to duck behind a tree, but I managed a quick photo before he hid.
These Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal on the other hand, couldn't care less about me being there.
There were some non-native birds around some of the ponds, like this Black-necked Swan,
and this Hawaiian Goose, or Nene.

Once it got dark, we headed over to Homestead to find a hotel. The only place we could find was a real DUMP that still cost us $84 for a double room.

(I think when you see a sign like this in your bathroom, you should consider stepping up to a higher class of motel for future stays, or at least bring your own towels!)

We headed out to try hunting for sleeping Knight Anoles in the trees. We found an area that we could hunt without getting shot or arrested, so we tried there first. All we found sleeping in the trees were White-winged Doves.

This wasn't really all that exciting, so we decided to try and find an area closer to the coast where we could hunt trees. We found a nice quiet area east of Florida City where a road ran along some trees with a shallow water-filled ditch along the side.

We didn't find anything in the trees other than a few Brown Anoles, but the ditch has some herps out foraging -
There were quite a few Southern Leopard Frogs (Rana sphenocephala)
and fish which were carefully trying to avoid the Brown Watersnakes (Nerodia taxispilota) we observed.

This little fish is playing with fire!
We came across this little Florida Mud Turtle (Kinosternon bauri) foraging along the bottom.

We also saw
Pig Frogs (Rana grylio),
Bull Frogs (Rana catesbiana),
Southern Cricket Frogs (Acris gryllus),
and an Amphiuma (Amphiuma cf. means)
in this little roadside ditch.

As we left the area, we were surprise to find a nicely patterned DOR "Miami-phase" Cornsnake (Pantherophis guttata).
The temps were in the low 60s and we hadn't anticipated seen snakes on the road.

We gave up, and got back to our slum hotel around 0030.

Go on to Day 5

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