Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Blooms

While checking the water gauge at Mallard Lake, which is two miles downstream from the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest, we noticed a red flower blooming at the edge of the water. The Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is named for the bright red robes worn by cardinals in the Catholic Church. The flower's deep, narrow blossoms make it impossible for most insects to pollinate, so the Cardinal Flower depends on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) to complete that task. At one point the plant was used for medicinal purposes, but frequent deaths from overdoses has relegated this plant to poisonous status. Though possibly deadly, it is highly adaptable and will not die even in the over-watered pot of a black-thumbed gardener (Melanohallex phytocheirus).

While focusing on the blossom, objects in the background were blurred and appeared smaller than they actually were. The 8-foot alligator (blurry, light spot at the end of the blossom) was keeping an eye on us. In a matter of minutes, five smaller alligators had joined the first in a game of reptilian charades..."Icebergs! Over 90% are below the surface!" A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) patiently patrolled the shore and fish slapping at the water's surface kept a steady beat.

Oh, yeah. After 30 minutes of enjoying nature...the water level was 3.04' and rising from last night's rain.

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