Friday, September 24, 2010

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed grows wild in pinelands, sandhills and dry roadsides in Florida and is often planted in gardens to attract butterflies--especially Monarchs. They love any flower in the Milkweed family.

A little known fact about Butterfly Weed is that it used to be called the "Pleurisy Plant" by Native Americans who used to chew it's root to treat Pleurisy and other Pulmonary ailments. Most plants that we rarely consider is that at one time or another they were or are still used in medicine.

When we look at plants and wildflowers all we think about is the smell and beauty of the flowers, never about its contribution to us as medicine. Some of our prettiest flowers are medicine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kennebunport Inn

Since I've been getting behind in my editing, I'm posting this one from my vacation to Maine with my son and daughter-in-law last June.

This is the famous Kennebunkport Inn. It has been a landmark since 1899. It was once a tea merchant's mansion and has the distinction of being listed as one of the Travel Channel's "Maine's Best Escapes".

The Kennebunkport Inn is located in Dock Square, Kennebunkport's shopping district and the only hotel/inn there and well worth checking out if you're going to be in the area.

Sun Rays and the American Flag

Just as I was leaving the Safety Harbor Marina last Monday, I spotted this as I was getting into my car.

Sun rays have always fascinated me. This one is no exception. Right after shooting this scene, it started to pour.

Florida's rains are really strange. It was pouring at the Marina, which is only 11 blocks from the Safety Harbor Grille where my friends and I go for dinner every Monday after our Meetup. It wasn't raining a drop at the restaurant, but people were calling to let me know it was pouring rain on the Bayside Bridge which is the opposite direction from the Safety Harbor Marina.

Sometimes it'll be raining across the street while it's not raining a drop on the other side and the sun is shining. Last week, I was driving home near 38th Ave in St Petersburg. The traffic in the opposite direction were slowed down to 15mph because the rain made it impossible to see, while on my side of the street, the sun was shining and it was dry as a bone. It's crazy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron

After some searching on the internet to find out the difference between an immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron and an immature Black-crowned Night Heron, I've decided that this must be an immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

It seems they look very similar in the wild, and if the two species are not together, then it's very hard to tell them apart. They both have white speckled bodies and faces, their eye color is the same, and their bill and leg colors are the same. So, how did I tell the difference when only one species is present? I guess knowing little details would make it an educated guess. According to all the sources I'd seen on the net and in my books, the only way to tell the difference is by looking at the color of their plumage and the length of their legs and stoutness of their bills.

My most trusted source is the Field Guide to Birds (Eastern Region) by the National Audubon Society. According to their book, young Yellow-crowned Night Herons are grayer, with stouter bills and longer legs than the young Black-crowned Night Herons. Since colors can be deceiving depending on the light cast, and I couldn't compare the legs, all I had to go on was the stoutness of the beak. Lucky for me, the Field Guide to Birds also has photos of both species. I matched up the beak, and made a definitive identification. This is a Yellow-crowned Night Heron!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moon Jellyfish

This Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) washed ashore at Cocoa Beach. I found it in the early morning light the day after I photographed a wedding in Cocoa Beach. There were many on the beach, but this was the best specimen I could find.

Moon Jellyfish feed by collecting planton, mollusks and medusae with its tentacles, while drifting with the current. Jellyfish don't actually swim. They drift with the current.

Moon Jellyfish do not have lungs, trachea or gills. They breathe through the absorption of oxygen through a membrane. They also do not have circulatory or excretory systems.

Jellyfish have many predators including Ocean Sunfish and Leather Back Turtles. Sea birds also eat jellyfish. Their lifespan in the wild is less than 6 months, but can live in controlled environments such as aquariums for 2 years.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple Snail Eggs

These fluffy looking pink worm-like creatures are Apple Snail eggs. I researched and researched and couldn't find a thing about them until finally, a friend told me what they are.

The Apple Snails lay their eggs above water to protect them from fish and underwater creatures eating them.

Apple Snails have both gills and lungs, so they are Amphibians. Their mantle cavity is divided to support both respiratory systems. They also have separate genders unlike some snails, which have both genders. They spend most of their time underwater.

Apple Snails are the primary food of Snail Kites and Limpkins. I once saw a Limpkin nest. Alongside the nest was maybe 25 Apple Snail shells piled up ready for the chicks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtails (Papilio cresphontes), are the one of the 2 largest butterflies in the United States. This one has a wing span of about 5 inches and some have wings spans of 6 inches.

This one was at rest just before dark on one of my bushes so he was an easy shot to make. I checked several times and I was surprised to see that he spent the night right there out in the open.

Their larvae/caterpillars are known in the citrus industry as "orange dogs" and are considered a pest because they feed off the leaves of citrus trees.