Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
I spotted this little blue heron in one of the Central Park ponds in Ormond Beach one morning. This photo I call "Anticipation", as the bird paused after appearing to follow a prospective meal around in a circle.
A year-round resident of Florida, with fewer in the northern part of the state during the winter months and overall less populous in the keys.
Adults have a slate-blue body color with a maroon-brown head and neck. Legs are grayish to green in all ages, becoming black during breeding season. The top of the head may appear from dark gray to cobalt blue and the tip of the bill is black. Immature birds are mostly white and as they mature through their first spring they are mottled white and dark gray.
The larger nesting colonies are usually in coastal areas, in flooded vegetation or on islands. Little blue herons seem to prefer to forage in freshwater lakes, marshes, swamps and streams.
Egretta caerulea is listed as a species of special concern in Florida mainly due to changes in the natural hydroperiods of many wetlands and pesticide and heavy metal poisoning.
This little wildflower was blooming in April (2011) near Lake Wauberg in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.
A common perennial of sandhills, flatwoods and hammocks throughout most of Florida.
The range extends throughout the Atlantic & Gulf coastal states from New Jersey to Texas, plus Oklahoma and east of the Mississippi north into Illinois to Pennsylvania.
Flowers are bluish violet and funnel shaped 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in.) long and sessile. The corolla has five nearly equal sized lobes and four stamens. The leaves are opposite, simple, entire, lanceolate to ovate, 4-10 cm (1.5 - 4 in.) long and tapering to a short petiole. Fruit is a smooth capsule 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cm (0.5 - 0.6 in.) long with brown seeds. Flowers bloom from spring through summer and into fall.
Anhingas can be seen perched in trees near water, often with their wings spread, as seen here.
Unlike cormorants, which assume this posture mainly to dry their feathers, anhingas are believed to be thermo-regulating, absorbing solar energy to offset their low metabolism and high heat loss, especially when wet.
For more information on this behavior, see this page at the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp website.
Anhingas are year round residents of Florida and along the coast all around the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and south throughout Brazil and other South American countries east of the Andes to Argentina. During the summer season the range expands northward throughout the coastal plain of the southeastern United States.
These unique birds are nearly a meter in length with a wingspan of 1.15 m (~45"). They frequently swim with only the head and neck showing, a trait that prompted the name snake bird.
A long fan-shaped tail, heron-like neck and pointed beak help distinguish anhingas from cormorants, which also lack the silvery wing patches.
In Florida this wildflower of rich open wooded slopes is found only in Gadsden County.
Outside the state this is a common geranium with the range extending throughout much of eastern North America,
as far west as Kansas, Oklahoma and the Dakotas in the United States and west into Manitoba in Canada.
This showy perennial grows from 30-61 cm (12-24 in.) tall. Leaves have three to five narrow lobes, deeply toothed at the tips, with the basal leaves having long petioles. The single pair of stem leaves are opposite and short-petioled. The pink to rose-purple, or rarely white, flowers have five petals, ten stamens and one pistil and 2.5-3.5 cm (1-1.4 in.) across. Fruits are a capsule with a slender beak to 2.5 cm (1 in.) long.
This photo was taken at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, a very good place to see wildflowers in the spring.
A great white heron in flight above mangroves in the Florida Keys.
Great white herons are found primarily in the Florida Keys, the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean.
They are also less frequently seen in the southern areas of the Florida peninsula.
Great white herons are typically about 10% larger than great blue herons and have an all white plumage. They can be differentiated from great egrets (Ardea alba) by their larger size and pale legs. (Great egrets have black legs and feet.) Where both great blue and great white herons are found, there is also often an intermediate morph, called Würdemann's heron, usually having the body color of a great blue, with a white head and neck.
The great white heron was first identified as a separate species called Ardea occidentalis, but is now generally accepted as a color morph of the great blue heron, Ardea herodias. Recent discussions have raised the question; are the two herons the same species, different subspecies, or completely different species. David Sibley in his original The Sibley Guide to Birds listed the great white heron is a color morph of the great blue. However he has recently stated that there appears to be a case for it being at least a subspecies (Ardea herodias occidentalis).
A close-up of the tiny rougeplant flowers.
A frequent plant of hammocks, coastal areas and disturbed sites throughout most of the peninsula from Alachua County south, plus Duval County.
The range extends from Louisiana and Arkansas west into Arizona and also Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii.
This herbaceous wildflower can be vine-like and sprawling, or more commonly shrub-like, with woody stems below. The tiny white to pinkish flowers are in racemes growing from the leaf axils. Lacking petals, the four narrowly linear sepals are separated by four stamens. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate to ovate-elliptic, tapering and often curving towards the apex. The mature fruit is a bright red berry.