Myakka Islands Point is a 100 acre park that is just over the border from Charlotte County in Sarasota County FL along the eastern bank of the Myakka River. It is a very interesting mixture of distinctly different terrestrial, brackish, and salt water habitats. The salt and brackish water marshes are maintained by periodic fires since otherwise they would become woody vegetation such as mangroves and willows. The presence of cattails along the land edges signifies that the salinity is less than about 10 ppt (full strength sea water is about 35 ppt). One of the trails along the western edge of the main island was protected from fire for some years and white mangroves have grown quickly into a “dog haired” stand with very close slender trunks. A slim change in elevation on the landward side yields hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods.
One of the most outstanding plants here is the generally uncommon golden leather fern which in this salty location is common. It has brownish spores on the backs of only the top three leaflets and is smaller than the more widely distributed giant leather fern.
To illustrate the stark contrast in botany there was a blooming blueberry plant nearby on higher ground that was attracting large black carpenter bees as pollinators. Some milkworts were blooming- the tiny candyroot was common in some sandy dry areas.
In damper mowed areas (reduced competition) with fresh water, tiny but spectacular bay lobelias were in full bloom. In adjacent swampy areas there were two types of primrose willows (Ludwigia)- a native species L. octovalvis with non-overlapping flower petals and very long thin seed pod, and an exotic species L. peruviana with overlapping petals and shorter thicker seed pods. Both attract insect pollinators and occupy somewhat different parts of the marsh/swamp- the native in shallower and the exotic in somewhat deeper water. The growth of the exotic species is also greatly facilitated by nutrient-rich waters.
There were quite a few interesting insects seen- for example a Horace’s duskywing, a great southern white butterfly (note the light blue tips to the antennae), and a number of dragonflies including a male eastern pondhawk and a female blue dasher.
There were a wide variety of birds seen including a bald eagle, but the most interesting were actually two types of doves. The common mourning dove is seen everywhere (yet look at the subtle beauty of this individual seen up close). But not so often seen were white winged doves which were present on the northern side of the island calling loudly and perhaps preparing to nest.