Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lights on Tampa 1

Our regular Monday Night Meetup was held in Tampa, FL last night. Tampa is having an event that they only do prior to the Super Bowl Game when it comes to the city. The last one was in 2006.

This shot is of the Tampa Municipal Building. There are 10 locations in all. Unfortunately, I was only at 2 of them last night, and since I'll be leaving for vacation on Friday I doubt I'll be able to get to see more of them.

I'll be posting the other shots I took of the second place we visited on my next post.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mabel Orchard Spider

I shot this Mabel Orchard spider while on my meetup in Ft Desoto. These spiders are really tiny, and it's the first time I've ever gotten a shot decent enough to print.

While this one isn't perfect, I like it anyway. I'd probably give it a 4 out of 5 stars if I were to rank it. I'd like to have seen a little more detail where his eyes are.

Mabel Orchard Spiders (leucauge mabelae) are in the Large-jawed Orb Weaver family (Tetragnathidae). They are easily recognized by their unusually large, powerful jaws, or chelicerae. They have 8 eyes and 3 claws on each tarsus. These spiders are only 1/2". Mabel Orchard spiders can be found in woodland edges and shrubby meadows from New England to Florida and west to Texas and Nebraska.

This species hangs below its web until prey is detected, or waits on a stem nearby with 1 leg in contact with a web strand.

Orchard spiders differ from other large-jawed spiders in possessing a small plate underneath thath protects the opening of the female sex organs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brazilian Pepper Tree

This image of this Brazilian Pepper tree was taken during my Ft Desoto meetup with my group while walking along the one of the nature trails.

Distribution of Brazilian pepper tree throughout Florida is widespread, although limited to the warmer areas due to sensitivity to cold temperatures. Brazilian pepper can be found as far north as Levy and St. Johns Counties, and as far west as Santa Rosa County. It is an aggressive invader of disturbed habitats; this characteristic has led to its placement on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s list of invasive species. Many plant communities such as hammocks, pinelands and mangrove forests are often invaded and dominated by Brazilian pepper tree.

This shrub/tree is one of the most aggressive and wide-spread of the invasive non-indigenous exotic pest plants in the State of Florida. There are over 700,000 acres in Florida infested with Brazilian pepper tree. Brazilian pepper tree produces a dense canopy that shades out all other plants and provides a very poor habitat for native species. This species invades aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats, greatly reducing the quality of native biotic communities in the state.

Brazilian Pepper trees (Schinus terebinthifolius) are native to Brazil, as their name suggests. They were brought here in the late 1800's because of their ornamental value.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Burned Palm Frond

Our group had another meetup tonight. This time we went to Ft Desoto in Tierra Verde, FL. We walked on one of the nature trails for about an hour while waiting for the moon rise.

I will have photos of the moon in another blog; be sure to stop by and see it.

Getting back to the burned Palm frond. Prescribed burns are a way of managing our overgrown forests. The heavy overgrowth and undesirable non-native plants are burned to replace nutrients in the soil and to rid the forest floor of this heavy overgrowth. The burns don't hurt the trees and are controlled to prevent forest fire. Due to the warm tropical climate in Florida, we have a longer growing season, so we have to have these burns every so many years to protect the environment.

This frond will grow again and produce a healthy Sable or Cabbage Palm. I'm not an expert and naming the different Palm species unless I can see the whole plant. Obviously, I'm not able to see this particular plant.

Female Downy Woodpecker

This little female Downy Woodpecker has found a new home, I think. She's been hanging around my yard for a couple weeks now. She was so busy chasing insects that she didn't notice me standing there with my camera; lucky for me.

It's fairly easy to tell the difference between the male and female Downy. The male has a bright red patch on the back of his head, while there's no red on the female at all.

Unlike most woodpeckers, these woodpeckers are small, only about 6" from tip of tail to their head. They can be found in most of the United States except in the Southwest, and are commonly spotted in woodlands, parks and gardens.

Downy woodpeckers are the smallest, tamest (not very skittish around people) and most abundant in the United States. They can be drawn to the yard with suet feeders. They are often in the company of chickadees, nuthatches, creepers and kinglets.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hernando deSoto Bridge

Yeah, I know, another bridge picture. :) This one is of the Hernando deSoto Bridge in Bradenton, FL.

I wasn't able to find any information on it on the net, but it is part of a series of bridges crossing the Manatee River.

I was covering Manatee Memorial Hospital while a girl was out and I noticed the beautiful sky on my way home from work. I just had to stop and shoot it.