Saturday, September 24, 2011

Photos From New Camera, Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival

Starting this past Thursday, I've been dedicating a tour per day 'til Sunday the 25th to registrants of the Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival, which means six tours (including the two for guests) in four days!  The tour is listed as one of many activities of interest to naturalists in a schedule that involves numerous walks, talks and tours taking place throughout the Keys.  Needless to say, I've stocked up on Gatorade and all those hours in the gym are paying off as I near the half-way mark of this mini-marathon of tours.  Ok, so it's not THAT bad, and in fact, it is quite enjoyable for me to be able to educate so many people about the importance and value of plants.  Specially for the Festival, I spent some time brushing up on avianbotany, a little-known field akin to ethnobotany that hasn't really...taken off (cue half-hearted laughter).  In all seriousness though, I did some research on our collections and tried to find out any connections our plants might have with birds and other wildlife so that I could present them to anyone registering for the tour through the Festival.  I was able to come to a greater appreciation about how not only humans, but all animals, depend on plant life for their survival.  Birds and squirrels use plants as a source of food and nest material, insects use plants as homes and for food, and lizards use plants for cover and apparently for enjoyment as props for parkour runs, as they are always bounding acrobatically across the landscape.

The Botanic Gardens recently made the exciting purchase of a new digital camera that has more features and takes higher quality images than our point-and-shoot, so I thought I'd show off some of the sights this week's tour participants are seeing in our gardens through this new lens.  My skill as a photographer needs quite a bit of work before I can produce some truly high-quality photos that will hopefully allow me to effectively capture and present the beauty and complexity of plants, but everyone's got to start somewhere!

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) was used in this bird's nest and has now begun to grow down the silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus) in which it was built.

Ants (bottom-right corner) have made a home in the trunk of an old gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba).

A brown anole atop a leaf of one of our pineapple (Ananas sp.) plants keeps watch or, more likely, scopes out his/her next parkour sequence.

Bromeliad inflorescences (left) and the unmistakable flowers of the royal poinciana (Delonix regia).

So ends another picture-perfect day at Kona Kai...

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

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