Yesterday I spent the day with my good friend Ande, who I know from my work life. She has been living and working here in Florida for awhile and is just about to leave for another big adventure somewhere yet to be determined. Anyway, I was lucky enough to catch her before she left and spend a lovely day at the Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.
About half of Washington Oaks used to be a private garden, and was donated to the state of Florida by Louise and Owen Young. The half of the park west of Rt. 1A has shaded formal gardens with roses and citrus trees, and trails through jungle-like forest called coastal hammock. Ande and I walked there before we had a nice seafood lunch nearby.
On the other side of 1A there is beach and coastal scrub - habitat of the gopher tortoise.
This is a first for me!
On the beach there were plenty of peeps and dippers.
I am not experienced with these kinds of birds, so I'm embarrassed to even make a stab at identifying them. I'm going to tentatively say the one above is a sanderling with its winter plumage. And this next one looks a lot like a dunlin, but they aren't found here in Florida, I don't think. So maybe it's a red knot? It's bigger than the sanderling.
If anyone knows, I'd love to hear from you.
The beach here is unusual. It's rocky, but not like west coast or Maine rocks. This rock is called coquina, and is made up mostly of shells. We recently came across it at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, which is made completely of coquina.
The rock erodes to create pot holes of various sizes and shapes.
It all makes for easy and safe climbing and exploring,
looking down into the holes to see what's living there.
Here you can get a good peek at the tiny shells that make up the coquina.
And here you can see the different layers of sand and shell, and how their composition has changed over time.
The erosion makes some cool shapes in the rock. Folks around here use coquina with interesting holes in it for landscaping accents.
Some of the holes are still tide pools. I didn't see as much flora and fauna in the tide pools as you might see in the Pacific. Mostly limpets.
But I did find these pink barnacles that look like tiny rose buds.
The coquina down by the water is covered in what looks like moss or short sea grass or sea weed. I imagine this vegetation and animal life is part of what has made the different colored layers you can see in the dry potholes.
The rock closer to the water is submerged daily in the tides, that are eroding it right now. That means you can watch the action that created all the potholes ages ago in the rock higher up on the beach. It's like traveling back in time just by walking down to the water.
Over the past 20 months we've seen a lot of places in the USA, and I'm still amazed at how the world keeps revealing new views, new life forms, new geography and geology, new people. It's just the infinite unfolding of Life.