Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sanibel 4

Here are a few more of the cratures we saw during our visit to Sanibel Island. Gulf Fritillaries are a common southern species that wanders north in the summer. The black-ringed white spots in the fore-wing are indicative of this butterfly. They fly all year in frost-free regions. The larvae eat passion vines. We have seen them before in Key West and in southern Texas.
I did not recognize this Marl Pennant in the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge Bailey Tract. We saw this same species here during a March visit. This species is found along Atlantic and Gulf coastal areas, across Mexico, and south through the Caribbean to Belize and Venezuela (Paulson 2011). They are found in brackish and fresh water and often perch, like this one, on the tips of vegetation. Previous Marl Pennants sported a dark “W” marking on their sides. Perhaps this field mark becomes more apparent as the year progresses. Marl is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud; it is unclear if this substance is critical for this dragonfly.
Two ducks—a Mottled Duck and a Red-breasted Merganser. Mottled Ducks are found across Florida, but are otherwise coastal birds along the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf. They prefer freshwater ponds, so to see this one swimming in the Gulf was somewhat surprising. The merganser was less surprising. They winter along all the coasts of the United States, almost every Canadian shore, and those of northern Mexico. They breed across Canada and Alaska and migrate across the entire United State and Canada.
The next bird looks like a duck but, instead, is a Pied-billed Grebe. Its feet are not webbed, only each toe is. Unlike ducks, grebes lack tails. This grebe cruised close to the road in the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
A White Ibis in the surf. Ibis are normally marsh birds. Occasionally we saw ibis and herons feeding in the Gulf, were they must find an abundance of arthropods living in the sandy beach. 

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