The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Notes From Day 1: - A sign at the park's entrance gate informs visitors that the mosquito level is "high." A friendly park employee told me there are many more mosquitoes than normal for mid-October and explained that the number is a result of above average rainfall. In two days, I've been bitten over a dozen times. I dislike the itching, of course, but I don't particularly mind being a critical part of the Everglades food chain (see the sign below).
Willingness to be fed upon aside, I'm also happy that I have a tropical house gecko as my roommate. Mosquitos may be small snacks for a gecko, but I like to think the lizard will prey on them as eagerly as it will larger insects (like cockroaches). Everglades biologists might appreciate having an insect eater in their homes, too, but they probably wouldn't smile on this particular species; the house gecko is one of three invasive gecko species in the Everglades.
- The birding continues to be tremendous. While Northern mockingbirds are by no means a new species for me, I did have an opportunity to watch a young mockingbird hunt an anole, kill and eat it, then meticulously clean his bill on a branch. Watching birds hunt, it's hard to understand why it took biologists so long to elucidate the relationship between dinosaurs, reptiles, and our feathered friends.
- Speaking of reptiles, my 5th day in the Everglades was made notable by 3 turtles. A juvenile common snapping turtle, an adult of the same species, and a Florida softshell turtle were all crossing the park's main road at different locations. I moved the juvenile snapper off the road, but elected to leave the adult to its own pace, hoping that its large size would compel drivers to slow down. Having watched a snapper peel the flesh off my father's index finger, I was reluctant to face the challenge of moving the testy reptile without assistance. The softshell turtle, however, didn't need my help. It lumbered with determination, and I simply escorted it across the road.