Sunday, June 2, 2013

Brown-headed Ducks??

For the life of me, I can't seem to find an ID on the internet and in any of my bird books for these ducks. I've never seen ducks that look like this before. They are beautiful, and there's soon going to be more of them around judging from the activity I witnessed at the park the other day.

I found them at the Tomlinson Complex Park in Gulfport, FL. They were swimming around on a little pond alongside the skateboard park. I followed them until I could get a clear shot of them for identification.

Can anyone help me ID these ducks?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolia

Southern Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) are not only beautiful flowers that smell magnificent, but they are also very interesting. Their stamen are like little flowers in themselves. Unfortunately, Magnolias only bloom for one day, leaving brown, dry petals, which are not quite as pretty as the petals were the day before.

However, the stamen stay to become beautiful soft, red cones which last a very long time. I've never picked up one to see if they are fragrant which makes me wonder why I've never thought to do that before.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Little Blue Heron

This Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) has his work cut out for him if he thinks he's going to find his breakfast easily in this Duckweed (Lemnacae). He looks pretty determined, though. I guess if you're hungry enough, you can remain focused.

This photo was taken the same place as the Red Hibuscus from yesterday's post. I still can't remember where I was. I'm beginning to think it was somewhere in Bradenton, FL near my work.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Red Hibiscus

I found this Hibiscus somewhere in my travels. I can't remember where I shot it. All I know is I also shot a beautiful Little Blue Heron, who was in a pond covered with Duckweed. I only took it a month ago, but I can't remember where I was.

That's really not like me at all. I haven't gone anywhere to shoot except for a park that I just found 4 blocks from my Aunt's house, home and work. I also shot a Swallow-tailed Kite. It's a fairly decent shot, but nothing to write home about. It's the first time I saw one. I wish I could remember where I was because I'd like to find that Swallow-tailed Kite again for a better chance at getting a better shot of him.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pardon my ignorance, but even when I look up the different species of Roses, I can't tell one from another. Maybe one of you can give me a name for this one, I'd be able to attach a caption. This one was on a tall bush or tree on the shore of a pond in Tomlinson Park Complex in Gulfport, Florida.

The entire bush was in bloom, yet there was no fragrance emitting from it even when I went up close to the flowers. It took a while to isolate just one bloom against the sky. I love how that pink pops out against the sky. Whenever possible, I try to photograph flowers this way; it enable me to have a nice, clutter free background.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

The Ruddy Turnstone gets its name for the way he hunts for food. He turns over stones (not quite this big, though) looking for insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and worms. The plumage shown here is his Winter plumage. In the Summer, their plumage on their back becomes a dark orange-brown color, hence the name "Ruddy".

Ruddy Turnstones are now classified as being in the Sandpiper family, but years ago it was classified in the Plover family. In the US, this bird is highly migratory and ranges from Washington State and Massachusetts coastlines to the southern part of Chile in South America.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Willet (Tringa semipalmata)

The Willet is a member of the Sandpiper family. Since I am also a Willet on my mother's side, does that make this my cousin? Am I a Sandpiper?
Somehow, I don't see the resemblance. I know I'm leaving myself open to many jokes, but seriously does this explain my love of shore birds?

All kidding aside, the Willet is the only North American sandpiper whose breeding range extends southward into the tropics. They can usually be found alone accompanied by more Sandpipers. They are territorial and will fiercely defend their feeding and nesting territory.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is probably the most photographed bridge in this area. It is a little over 4 miles long and spans Tampa Bay. The bridge connects Pinellas County and Manatee County, passing through Hillsborough (waters) County in Florida. The bridge is 431 feet high, with a clearance of 175 feet. It was completed in 1987 after the old bridge was hit by a ship.

The Travel Channel has rated the Sunshine Skyway as #3 out of the top 10 bridges in the world. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ahhhh Lunch!

When I shot this image, I never realized that this Snowy Egret had anything in his mouth. Once I got it on my computer, I noticed the snake in his mouth. No wonder he was all frazzled. I watched and shot him for about 15 minutes and he still didn't have it in his tummy. 

Meanwhile, another Snowy Egret caught a fish, and this greedy fellow decided he wanted that too! He didn't get the fish, so he was forced to keep on struggling with this snake. 

This is the cropped version of the original image. The whole image shows the two Snowy Egrets about to fight over the fish. I'll save that for a later date.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Southern Magnolia blossom.

You always know when you're in the South when you spot Magnolia trees. Magnolias are one of the most fragrant flowers and they're fragrance can be smelled all over the yard. Even the bark of their trees are fragrant. They were named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol. 

The Magnolia is the state flower of both Mississippi and Louisiana. 

Magnolias are ancient flowers, so ancient that fossils have been found dating to 20 million years ago--before the arrival of bees.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eastern Eyed Click Beetle

The Eastern Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus), is about 2 inches long.

The "eyes" are not really his eyes. They are there to scare off predators. Their actual eyes are located at the base of his antennae.

Eyed Click Beetles get their name from their habit of fending off danger by turning on their back, then bending their head and pro-thorax backward and snapping open when straightening out. This produces a loud audible click.

Eyed Click Beetles can be found in the Eastern United States as far west as Texas.

Sawgrass Lake Park is located in St Petersburg, Florida. Visitors there can be reasonably sure of seeing American Alligators in the wild.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Appalachee 2-Room House and Interior

I made a big mistake while at the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. I took photos of the inside of a 2-room house that was occupied by a family with 10 children and was so impressed with the inside, I forgot to shoot the outside. So, this one will have to do. There were a few houses like this on the outskirts of the property on the nature trail. These are still left for the Archaeologists to investigate and be restored. This is similar to the outside of the house I photographed.

This piece was outside the entrance to the house. If you remember from an earlier post, I stated the women made all the pottery, dishes, buckets and household items. I'm still trying to figure out what this was used for. I should've asked the woman in the house who showed me around, but she had to leave to watch the chickens. There was a hungry Fox around and they wanted to be sure the chickens were safe.

Maybe one of you readers have an idea what this is. It looks like it is some kind of form. It reminds me of an egg darner that my grandmother used to darn socks, but this is way too big for that. It stands probably 2 1/2 ft tall, and maybe 20 inches at the widest part. I'm really curious about this piece. I don't even know what to call it.

This chair was sitting between the bedroom and living area. It looks too ornate to be made by the Appalachees. My guess is that it was brought here by the Spaniards and given to this family. The carving is beautiful. To see it in detail, just click on the picture and it'll come up in a larger view.

The cradle is definitely made by the father. I was especially impressed with the cross on the headboard above the baby's head. The Appalachee Indians were Christian. The Spaniards brought Christianity to the Mission and the Applachees absorbed it.

Other than this cradle, the only other bed in the home is the parents' bed. I would guess the other children slept on the floor. I was particularly impressed with the canopy. I wouldn't have imagined that canopies were used in that era. However, I liked it and it did provide the parents some privacy, I suppose. It is also impressive that patterns were printed on fabric in the 1600's.

I guess I have a lot to learn about history. I recommend my method; it's a whole lot more interesting and fun than it was in school.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apalachee Council House Artifacts

These are the last of the Council House photos. In the first image, you can see a closeup of the beds that are all around the edge of the outside wall. The Apalachee natives would sleep there before an attack or before going to war. I didn't count them, but the Council House is 120 ft in diameter, so there were quite a few of these beds.

The mats are basically the same woven mats as you've seen on every table and on the benches and floors throughout the village. I believe they were woven by the women from Palm fronds. These mats were laid on a bed made of logs as were the tables and benches.

These two artifacts were found on the grounds during the excavations by the archaeologists. The bucket looks like the ones that can be found at many antique auctions and in antique stores. They're fairly common.

That clay jug is beautifully done. The craftsmanship is amazing. Those holes are purely for decoration. They don't go all the way through (or the liquid would leak out). I like what looks like salad tongs of today on the sides. I'd love to have one of these.

Tomorrow's post will be the interior of one of the houses of an Apalachee family. Be sure to come back and have a look.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Grounds and Artifacts at Mission San Luis 2

This is another view of the vegetable garden on the grounds of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, Florida. The Apalachee Indians had different work for both women and men. The men cleared fields, hunted and fished for food, did the building and made tools. The women collected wild foods, tended the gardens and crops, reared children, cooked, made clay dishes and pots, ground corn and grains and prepared skins.

Pictured here is one of many clay pots found on the excavation site. It has a piece of leather skin covering it. The rattle (I'm guessing what that is) is made from an animal hoof and some kind of dried gourd.

The other photo shows some woven baskets in the process of being made. The same type of weave was used for the table coverings and for the beds around the inside of the walls of the Council House.

The Council House was used for all kinds of things besides meetings. There were religious and ceremonial activities, including dances, rituals and preparations for war.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grounds and Artifacts at Mission San Luis

The grounds at Mission San Luis are beautifully manicured. I was surprised when I went to Tallahassee to hear that they have 4 distinct seasons. In St Petersburg, we are more sub-tropical and our seasons kind of blend together. We have no bare trees to speak of, and our grass is green all year unless there's a drought. There are also hills and mountains in Tallahassee unlike St Pete, where everything is flat. One would never guess both cities are in the same state.

In the foreground is one of the gardens where vegetables are grown. Right now, there's not much growing because it is Winter, but in the Spring and Summer, it is full of seasonal veggies. If you look closely, you can see the Friary in the background. I have more on that to show in a future post. It is still a working Friary today.

This artifact was recovered during the excavations I mentioned in an earlier post. I have no idea what it is used for, but I'm amazed at all the carving the natives did with primitive tools. Those swirls must've taken a long time to carve into that stone. It could be clay and they had some sort of mold; I'm not sure, but it looks like stone to me.

In the photo below, that definitely is a jaw, but if you look closely, there are rows of teeth like a shark. I don't know where they'd find a shark skeleton, since they're about 85 - 100 miles of the shore. It is also skewed and I can't figure out how they did that, or what they planned on doing with it.

These artifacts make me more curious about their culture, how they lived and worked and the technology they had. We only know so little about the Apalachee way back in the day around 300 years ago. Life must've been pretty tough for them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home on Mission San Luis Grounds and Artifacts

Whenever I travel and do the "tourist" thing, I try to make a photo of every sign at the place so I can remember what I saw. Apparently, I missed this sign. I remember seeing it and now I don't remember what this building was and when it was built.

Not knowing the significance of this home on the grounds of Mission San Luis which was obviously built during a later period makes me curious now. That is the reason I tell my photography students to take pictures of any signs when visiting for the first time. This is the consequence of not following my own advice. If any of you have visited the Mission and know what this house signifies, please let me know in the comments. I certainly would appreciate it. The mission was used until 1967 so this home could be that one of the leaders or maybe it was the home of a prominent citizen.

The second photo was on a table in the Council House. (If any of you didn't see that photo, just look back a couple of days to find it and to learn more about Mission San Luis in Tallahassee.) These look like they could be either eating or cooking utensils. Your guess is as good as mine. I wish the volunteer was able to spend more time with me so I'd know what these were used for.

The final clay pot was used as a smudge pot and was on the same table as the others. There were smudge pots on all the tables and near all the "beds" along the outer walls of the Council House. The smudge pots were for burning corn cobs to keep the mosquitos away.

The Apalachee Indians wasted nothing. There was no such thing as trash in those early days. They were the original "green people". We could learn a lot from them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some Artifacts from Mission San Luis

I guess by now you're all figuring out I had a wonderful time at the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. I learned so much about the Apalachee Indians and the Spaniards that co-existed at the mission.

The artifacts to the left were found during one of the archaeological digs. The archaeological investigations began in the 1940's by three founding fathers of Archaeology. They were John W Griffin in 1948, Hale G Smith in 1950 and Charles H Fairbanks in 1956 and 1957.

Once Florida bought the site, the archaeology staff continued to conduct systematic excavation in the fort and the village from 1990 to 2002. These are some of their finds.

The skeletal remains were on the tables in the Council House. I have no idea what they came from, but the one on the bottom seems to be from some kind of canine, I think. If anyone of you out there can shed some light on the subject, I'd sure be interested in knowing and very appreciative.

The woman I was speaking with that was explaining everything to me had to go to guard the chickens because the other lady on the grounds saw a Fox. She wasn't quite finished, so I didn't get a chance to ask about these skeletal remains.

This one looks like some kind of canine, but I could be wrong. I'm not a Vet or an Archaeologist.

The second one is anyone's guess. It doesn't look like a skull. I can't imagine what it came from. I can't even tell what body part it is. It's an interesting piece, though. It doesn't look like it could've been used as a tool, so why was it kept? I wish I had the answers. Maybe I'll never know.

I think that's the end of the gross stuff. I promise tomorrow night the stuff will be a little bit easier to look at.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Apalachee Council House Interior

This is a 7-shot panoramic image of the inside of the Apalachee Council House. If you saw my blog last night, you saw the outside. You'll have to click on this photo to see all the detail.

The women were not allowed in the Council House during meetings, but they came in here to do some of their work. The tables contain various artifacts of things in progress, like some unfinished baskets, Hickory nuts, they gathered and several pelts they were drying.

In the center of the room, there is a pile of wood they burned 24/7. The smoke went out the open hole in the top. When I asked the guide what kept the rain out, she told me the heat of the fire and the smoke evaporated the rain immediately so it (the rain) didn't get in and get the place all wet.

Under the tables are little black holes. They're called smug pots. They burned corn cobs in them to keep out the mosquitos. Along the edges of the hut are beds made from woven Palm fronds. Nothing was ever wasted. They'd crack the Hickory nuts and make mush out of them. The meat and inner shell was used to make a tea that had enough caffeine as several pots of coffee. The outer shell was boiled down to make paint and dye for their furniture and clothing.

All the tools were handmade.

I'll be posting detailed shots of some of the artifacts from inside the Council House in later posts.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mission San Luis

This is the entrance to the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. It is the last look at the 21st century until you leave this magnificent place.

Mission San Luis was built in 1656. It burned down in 1987 and this community has been recreated by the City of Tallahassee. Everything here is rebuilt with artifacts found around the place and from archeological digs.

In all, there are 60 acres to explore and that includes a nature trail of sort (it's not actually a trail; it's more like a walk in the woods) where you'll find many species of birds, fox, and all types of wildlife.
Pictured here is the Apalachee Indian council house, built by Apalachees. At over 120 feet in diameter, the council house is among the largest Indian structures ever built in the Southeast. It wasn’t uncommon for the council house to hold 1,500 or more people in the 1690s.

There is not enough space to give you all a tour, but I'll be posting more from this community in later posts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wildlife at the Tallahassee Museum

Well, you might know, my last day off while in Tallahassee and it's raining. It's going to rain all day.

I had planned to go to the Mission San Luis today, but with the rain, it's simply impossible.

Can you just imagine a museum with a wildlife trail? The Tallahassee Museum has it all. I'm not kidding. What a surprise when I discovered this nature trail and the wildlife within it. I'll be posting a few photos from the nature trail.

This White-tailed Deer was one of several I saw on the trail. I shot this from the boardwalk. This guy thought he was pretty well hid amongst the Palms and as he watched me, I was able to get this shot. He was a beauty!

This was another White-tailed Deer I saw out in the open in the Cypress grove. I'm pretty sure he was munching on some bark from that fallen tree. I must've seen 4 or 5 Deer in all.

Besides Deer, I saw Wild Turkey, a River Otter, a Bobcat, a Black Bear and a Gray Fox. Watch for future posts of these magnificent animals as I get them edited and ready for posting.

Judging from the rain we're getting, it looks like I'll be editing pictures all day.