Pines and Palmetto on Estero Bay (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Pines and Palmetto on Estero Bay (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

30 x 47.75 in | 76.2 x 121.3 cm

The ecosystem called Pine Flatwoods was once one of the most extensive ecosystems in Florida covering almost half of the state.  Most of the old pines have been logged, but I found this one after traipsing around all day.  The young ones are not as interesting because storms have not yet sculpted their symmetrical branches into unpredictable contortions.  This is a Slash Pine (Pinus Elliottii) but Sand Pines and Long Leaf Pines populate the Flatwoods in other regions.

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Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) was the most common understory plant in the original Pine Flatwoods.  Frequent fires bring these two plants together.  During a dry spell fires race through these forests burning off the grass and small shrubs but their thick bark protects the pines.  The fire does burn off the Palmetto leaves but they grow back quickly from their extensive trunk and root system.

White Ibis were feeding all over the Bay, their orange beaks plunging in and out of the mud like sewing machines.  There were other birds feeding with the Ibis.  They looked like Egrets with their black bills and long necks, but their legs were wrong—olive green instead of black.  Of course, to paint the legs of such small birds with a knife requires just a touch with the knife blade.  You probably can barely tell what color they are.  Still, I wanted to get it right.  And the only bird that fits this description is an immature Little Blue Heron.  That means the Ibis were probably babysitting.

When my cousin, who is an experienced bird watcher, saw the painting, he wanted to confirm the identity of green legged ones as immature Little Blue Herons, so he leaned in to have a closer look.  Of course, the image just broke up into blobs as he came closer.  You’re not at the Bay, I said, but I took the compliment.

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