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pink-250April 16, 2016

I did a trail walk in the scrub with the Coccoloba Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society this morning off Shell Island Road.

We found a few grass pink orchids in bloom and a few getting ready to bloom. They are genus Calopogon but species wasn't determined -even by plant guru Jim Burch - and he's the one who wrote the vascular plant guide to Rookery Bay.

The other thing that was really amazing to see out there today was nesting common nighthawks. We encountered a male early on the walk and it was doing its courtship display by diving and "booming" at the bottom of its dive.

nighthawk-eggs-250We flushed another nighthawk later in the morning and further back in the scrub. At first we didn't recognize it because it was so big and a rusty brown color. It was flopping around and presenting the "broken wing" distracting behavior. We didn't approach it but kept walking. It flew off after a couple of displays. A member of the group found two eggs on the ground under a Chapman's oak after we accidentally came upon them. We didn't touch the eggs, but I put my hand in the photo for reference/size - took 2 photos and kept moving so she could come back to her nest. Unfortunately we had to walk right by her eggs again on the way out, but she had returned to protect them again. We gave the nest a wider berth on the way back to try to avoid scaring her away again. We were all amazed by the fact that nighthawks nest right on the ground and how fortunate we were to encounter a "nest." There wasn't a huge risk to the eggs after we initially scared her because they weren't out in full sun and she returned to the nest in just a few minutes after we walked past.

Learn more about the common nighthawk here

graff-100Dave Graff
Education Specialist

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