Siesta key

I’m spending a week or so on Siesta Key, Florida with Mary and Jared and kids.  Mostly I’m lurking in the condo working while they putter around on the adjacent beach.  I’m also reading Killing Mister Watson which is set in the 10,000 Islands a bit south of here.  It’s very strange to look at this heavily suburbanized landscape and think about what a soggy, malaria-infested horror show this place must’ve been 100 or so years ago.

A lot of the characters in the book are ‘plume hunters’ and there’s a fair bit of talk about the giant shorebird rookeries that used to fill South Florida.  I’m still pretty impressed by the bird life (I’ve seen half a dozen ospreys, for example) but I’m sure I’m only seeing a faint shadow of the original state.

On a Saturday we took a tiny “ferry” (actually a fishing charter on a side job) to egmont key which had a bunch of abandoned, unused batteries from the Spanish-American war.  It was also full of gopher tortoises, something I’d never heard of or thought about.  Instead of stubby tortoise feet they had nasty-looking claws, presumably for burrowing.

gopher tortoise1 gopher tortoise2

The tortoises were extremely bold; one walked right up to us to graze under the bench we were seated on.

We also picked this huge two-lined walking stick off the side of an old army barracks.  After a double-take (and repeated leg-counting) it was determined that this was in fact /two/ walking sticks.  Further research suggests that once a pair meet up they just hang together like this until one or the other dies.

walking stickwalking stick pair

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