Beautiful Leaf-Green Lizard

An excerpt from A Florida Sketch-Book, by naturalist Bradford Torrey, written in 1895: “The morning is cloudless and warm, till suddenly, as if a door had been opened eastward, the sea breeze strikes me. Henceforth the temperature is perfect as I sit in the shadow. I think neither of heat nor of cold. I catch aContinue reading “Beautiful Leaf-Green Lizard”

“Gentlemen” Plume Hunters

“Plume hunting” for sport and fashion was common in the years before laws were enacted to protect our birds. The following is an excerpt from A Florida Sketch-Book by naturalist Bradford Torrey in 1895, mocking those who engaged in such activity: “Happily, the lawmakers of the State have done something of recent years for the protectionContinue reading ““Gentlemen” Plume Hunters”

Bradford Torrey’s “Water Turkey Contortionist”

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1895 book, A Florida Sketch-Book: “At another time, on the same stake, sat some dark, strange-looking object. The opera-glass showed it at once to be a large bird sitting with its back toward me, and holding its wings uplifted in the familiar heraldic, e-pluribus-unum attitude of our American spread-eagle; but evenContinue reading “Bradford Torrey’s “Water Turkey Contortionist””

The Finest of Embroidery

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1895 book, A Florida Sketch-Book: “We were at that moment approaching a bird about which I felt a stronger curiosity,—a snake-bird, or water-turkey, sitting in a willow shrub at the further end of the bay. ‘Pull me as near it as it will let us come,’ I said. ‘I wantContinue reading “The Finest of Embroidery”

“It’s the poisonousest snake there is!”

A humorous story from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1894 book, A Florida Sketch-Book. (It would be even more humorous if ignorant snake killing wasn’t still common.) “It was a ‘copper-bellied moccasin,’ he declared, whatever that may be, and was worse than a rattlesnake.” A few minutes later, when, as the boat was grazing the reeds, IContinue reading ““It’s the poisonousest snake there is!””

One Live Alligator is Worth a Dozen Dead

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1894 book, A Florida Sketch-Book: “But as we were skirting along the shore I suddenly called ‘Hist! An alligator lay on the bank just before us. The boy turned his head, and instantly was all excitement. It was a big fellow, he said,—one of three big ones that inhabited theContinue reading “One Live Alligator is Worth a Dozen Dead”

He has come here to die…

​A spooky excerpt from A Florida Sketch-Book, by naturalist Bradford Torrey, written in 1895: ​There—going one day farther than usual—I found myself in the borderland of a cypress swamp. On one side was the lake, but between me and it were cypress-trees; and on the other side was the swamp itself, a dense wood growing inContinue reading “He has come here to die…”

The Heron is at Home

In 1895, naturalist Bradford Torrey wrote of the Green Heron being at home in watery woods such as the Okefenokee Swamp: “The day was before me, and the place was lively with birds. Pine-wood sparrows, pine warblers, and red-winged blackbirds were in song; two red-shouldered hawks were screaming, a flicker was shouting, a red-bellied woodpeckerContinue reading “The Heron is at Home”

Obliging Alligators

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1894 book, A Florida Sketch-Book: “​The river in that part of its course is comfortably narrow,—a great advantage,—winding through cypress swamps, hammock woods, stretches of prairie, and in one place a pine barren; an interesting and in many ways beautiful country, but so unwholesome looking as to lose much ofContinue reading “Obliging Alligators”

Great Egret, The Handsomest Heron

​In 1894, naturalist and ornithologist Bradford Torrey wrote of the Great Egret in his book, A Florida Sketch-Book. “Incomparably the handsomest member of the heron family (I speak of such as I saw) was the great white egret. In truth, the epithet ‘handsome’ seems almost a vulgarism as applied to a creature so superb, so utterlyContinue reading “Great Egret, The Handsomest Heron”