Several years ago, while researching Exploring Florida’s Botanical Wonders, I stumbled across the newly opened Robinson Preserve in Palma Sola. Managed by Manatee County and directly across the road from Palma Sola Botanical Gardens, this preserve of mud flats and mangrove-lined shores has one of the best observation tower views in Florida, as well as …
Of all of Florida’s habitats, the one that truly sings “Florida” is the palm hammock, a richly textured riot of green and fronds, of mosses and lichens, of light and shadow perfectly balanced. Enjoy it on the Taylor Creek Loop.
Surfacing from their dives to chase fish, anhingas, with their long necks, look like snakes at attention, which is why it is also called the snakebird, or water turkey
A giant among trees, the bald cypress is an imposing sight. Unlike its relative the pond cypress, it prefers growing along water in motion, such as rivers, streams, and sluggish swamps.
Black mangroves have shiny leaves and dark round seed cases. Their most distinguishing feature is their pnuemataphores, finger-like protrusions around the tree like slender, miniature cypress knees.
With an unusual color and shape compared to most ducks you see, the Black-bellied whistling duck is surprisingly common throughout all of Florida.
The state tree of Florida, the cabbage palm (also called sabal palm) is an iconic symbol found in almost every habitat in Florida, although it is less frequently seen in upland areas.
An unusual-looking Florida raptor, the crested caracara is Mexico’s national bird. They are members of the falcon family, but their heads look very parrot-like—a red face and a thick curved bill offset their black-and-white plumage.
A colonial nesting bird, the cattle egret is often seen in large flocks overhead in morning and evening, heading to and from their roosts and nests in shrubs along shorelines.
One of the most common birds you’ll see in Florida’s marshes, coots are among the noisiest. When they take off, they look like they’re running on water before they launch into the sky.
Cormorants can be easily confused with the anhinga, but are a more social bird. You’ll see them hanging out in groups.
Large puffy lichens, such as pale greenish-gray Cladina evansii and yellowish Cladina subtenuis are lumped under the colloquial name of deer moss.