Viera Wetlands - not just birds
This birding hotspot presents nature viewing opportunities beyond birds.
Green Sea Turtles
Green sea turtle nest provided pleasant surprise this summer.
Middle Suwannee River
My local Florida county - Volusia - sponsored a monthly nature challenge at a different county preserve each month from late 2022 through spring of 2023 on iNaturalist. According to the challenge coordinator Trey Hannah "The Explore Volusia Challenge was designed to get people out to the wonderful Volusia County conservation Lands", and in my case it has been working.
Volusia County Endangered Ferns
Smoky Mountains Redux
Look back at 2021
Reunite the Rivers
Now is the time for action to reunite the Great Florida Waterway of the Silver Springs, Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers.
2021 Pixels\Fine Art America Billboard Contest
I had three entries in the 2021 Pixels/Fine Art America Billboard Contest.
Backyard and Bicycle Botany during Quarantine
Stay at home orders and self-quarantine to prevent the spread of Coronavirus has disrupted everyone's routines this spring. However, this does not preclude either botanizing or photography, both of which I have been able to indulge in during these unusual times.
Florida Pawpaws Part One
A look at three of the pawpaws that are found in Florida and two Lepidoptera that they are hosts for.
Best of 2019
Some of my favorite photographs from places that I visited over the past year.
Havana 500 and Street Art
This month marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, Cuba under a ceiba tree on November 16, 1519. In the spirit of that celebration here is a collection of street art - murals, graffiti, signs and a sculpture - seen in Havana earlier this year.
Mangroves are a group of plants with a shared common name that has more to do with where and how they grow than with their family or genus relationships. Mangroves are shrubs or trees that are halophiles, meaning that they can grow in salt water. To do this they have particular characteristics that help them deal with their saline environment. There are four native mangroves in Florida.
Backpacking Hopkins Prairie
I have backpacked different parts of the Florida Trail from the Rodman Dam to Clearwater Lake in the Ocala National Forest on several occasions, but there was a section between Salt Springs and Juniper Springs that I not completed. In March (2019) I closed this gap. In this post (click either the title or the image above) you can read about and see photos from the portion of this hike around Hopkins Prairie.
In February of 2019 Virginia & I had the opportunity to visit Cuba as part of a people-to-people exchange tour. The first day of the organized tour was in the town of Matanzas, in the province of the same name. Here are some of my favorite images from that day.
Pretty Little Dragonflies
Photographing small, similar-looking dragonflies and properly (eventually) identifying them.
Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids
At 3:31 am on Sunday August 12, the Parker Solar Probe was launched on a Delta Heavy rocket. I photographed the launch from Ormond by the Sea. The same morning I also photographed a meteor and a fireball during the Perseids meteor shower.
A very wet native plant field trip this May resulted in my seeing two butterflies that were new to me, including the rare Schaus' swallowtail. This trip to Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park was one of many activities during the Florida Native Plant Society annual state conference. Myself and two other attendees braved the early start of this year's rainy season to visit an area not open to the public. The other butterfly seen on that field trip new to me was the Julia butterfly. Dryas iulia var. largo is one of Florida's longwing butterlfies.
Sweet acacia is a native shrub to small tree of the southern-most band of states from Florida and Georgia west into California. It is closely related to the iconic trees of the African savanna landscapes, including the umbrella thorn acacia. Until recent reclassifications Acacia was the largest genera in the pea family with about 1500 species worldwide.
Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules
One of the more frequently seen rails is the sora. These small, thin, chicken-like birds inhabit both freshwater and brackish marshes and other wet places throughout Florida in the winter. Other members of the Rallidae family include coots and galliules, or moorhens.
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
One of the more common butterflies seen in Florida is the gulf fritillary. This is one of the longwing butterflies (Heliconiini tribe), a subgroup of the brush-footed butterfly family (Nymphalidae). This post includes photos of larvae, pupa and adult and videos of parts of the metamorphosis of a gulf fritillary.
Exploring nature can be fun and full of surprises, such as discovering one of the many varieties of mushrooms that are often found in the woods. The huge mushroom pictured at the top of this post was about a foot and a half across. and is called a Berkeley's Polypore. Virginia & I spotted it a couple of years ago along a May Prairie State Natural Area trail less than two miles from where I grew up in Manchester, Tennessee.
Total Solar Eclipse of 2017
On August 21, 2017 a unique opportunity occurred for a vast number of North Americans to witness a total solar eclipse. I had seen a partial solar eclipse shortly after I moved to Florida. Virginia said that we should go somewhere to see totality since Florida would only witness a partial eclipse and we made plans to do so.
Life Cycle of the Spiderling Plume Moth
The last week of July(2017) found me on most mornings observing and photographing the many spiderling plume moths that were flying around and perching on a patch of red spiderling plants in our yard. It was a fitting coincidence that this was also National Moth Week.
Wildflowers and Pollinators
Many pollinators visit wildflowers to feed on the nectar, and indirectly spread the pollen from flower to flower and assisting in the plant's reproductive cycle. Some insects actually feed on pollen, as in the case of the female Poecilognathus Bee Fly that I captured in the photo above and the video below on Florida Scrub Roseling, a member of the Spiderwort family of plants that these bee imitators favor.
Life on the Dunes
Spring has brought a resurgence on the dunes, which through the winter mostly only had vegetation that I planted since the hurricane(Matthew in 2016). For the past several years Virginia and I have had marsh rabbits living in our front yard. I was surprised to learn that they will inhabit the beach dunes since I had usually seen them in proximity to the intercoastal waterway.
One of the many cool things about living in Florida is experiencing Sandhill cranes. We have two distinct populations of these majestic birds in the Sunshine State. About five thousand Florida sandhill cranes live here year-round and are considered a separate subspecies from the more numerous greater sandhill cranes that only winter here.
Clasping Warea is a rare Florida endemic wildflower that occurs only in central Florida. The ideal habitat for this endangered plant is longleaf pine sandhill.
William Bartram was born in 1738 in the family home (pictured here at the end of March) overlooking the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. His father was John Bartram, widely considered the Father of American Botany and co-founder with Benjamin Franklin and others of the Philadelphia Philosophical Society. When William was 27 he accompanied his father on his first expedition into Georgia and Florida. The purpose of this trip was to provide a report and collection of plants to King George III on the area recently acquired by England from Spain. After that expedition, William returned to the southeastern colonies on behalf of private English benefactors who in return received much of what he collected.
Along with pines, oaks and tupelo one of the typically 'Florida' trees is the cypress. Florida has two species, the bald cypress and the pond cypress. When certain conditions exist, pond cypress sometimes can grow very old but remain fairly small for its age. There are two main areas that are known for their large strands of dwarf cypress. One is in the Picayune Strand State Forest in southwest Florida. Another is located in the Florida panhandle in Tate's Hell State Forest.
Pitcherplants in May
The Sarraceniaceae is a family of carnivorous plants known as the pitcher-plants. Members of this plant family have modified leaves that form a pitcher of various shapes and colors that traps and digests insects. In Florida the most widespread of these is the hooded pitcherplant. Sarracenia minor is the only species found in the Florida peninsula., occurring from just north of Lake Okeechobee, west into the central panhandle and into Georgia and the Carolinas. While I see these fairly frequently, they are seldom as nice looking and not obscured by other plants as they were early this May(2016) in Tiger Bay State Forest.
Rodman Reservoir Drawdown
Rodman Reservoir was created by damming a section of the Ocklawaha River as part of the abandoned cross-Florida barge canal project. Even though the canal project was cancelled before completion, and the path of the canal is now the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, this reservoir remains. About every three years, the water level is lowered primarily to control invasive aquatic vegetation. These drawdowns allow muck from decaying vegetation a chance to consolidate and oxidize, reducing the thickness of the muck and providing a firmer lake bottom, more suitable for fish and wildlife. This winter(2016) while the lake level was down I kayaked on two different days, once near the dam, and the second paddle near Eureka.
This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on images in the "Only in Florida" exhibit. Bigflower pawpaw, William Bartram and André Michaux.
Only in Florida
Florida ranks as the fourth highest state in the number of endemics, species that are limited to a particular geographic area. During my years of exploring and capturing images of nature, I have had a particular interest in finding and photographing the rare species, many of which are threatened or endangered. As I learned more about these subjects, I realized that many of them are endemic to Florida. About five years ago I decided to work on a photography project focusing on Florida endemics, which I call "Only in Florida".
Now that winter has actually arrived, both here in Florida and in points north, I want to look back at just last month when much of the eastern United States was experiencing temperatures that could be used as a textbook example of 'unseasonable'.
2015 Year in Review
With the year(2015) coming to a close I looked back at the photographs that I made over the past twelve months and picked some of my favorites to share with you here.
Children in Nature
Many of you have heard that outdoor retailer REI has announced that they will close their stores on Black Friday and pay their employees encouraging them to spend the day outdoors in a campaign called #OptOutside. Virginia & I have spent most of the past Black Fridays camped in a state park for the long weekend, often with friends and family. We are not camping this Thanksgiving weekend, but we had a very special camping trip the previous weekend at Anastasia State Park. It was our first time camping with children, taking three boys on their first campout.
Earlier this year(2015) I had the pleasure of going on on a small motorboat to Lake Disston in nearby Flagler County. This state designated Outstanding Florida Water has been on my list of places to go kayaking, so when my day job boss's husband and fellow Florida Master Naturalist Dale Dittbenner suggested a late afternoon trip I quickly accepted. Also on our little excursion was Chapman Root and Victor Kowal, a visionary artist of St. Augustine.
The photography of Paul Rebmann is being shown in two public venues. The Halifax Historical Museum is featuring the exhibit "Our Natural World Around Us" and one of the entrance displays at the Ormond Beach Library will be filled with Wild Florida Photos during The month of August(2015).
There are many interesting spiders that can be seen in Florida. I will show you a few of them and their webs.
The nature photography of Paul Rebmann was the subject of a profile earlier this year(2015) in Florida Verve, an online art and culture magazine.
Florida State Forests
In my years of photographing wildflowers I have found that Florida State Forests provide some of the best locations to locate interesting subjects. The natural habitats in forests throughout the state allow native, and sometimes rare, wildflowers to thrive.
Florida is home to over a hundred orchid species, making up about half of the orchids found in North America. Many may think of orchids as being a tropical plant, but orchids are one of the most diverse plant families and can be found almost anywhere on the planet. I have been pleasantly surprised to come across orchids in both Michigan's upper peninsula and in Oregon's Mt. Hood National Forest.
Florida's Ocklawaha River flows north 74 miles from Lake Harris in Lake County passing through Marion County and along the western border of the Ocala national Forest, ending in Putnam County, entering the St. Johns River just upstream of Welaka. The Ocklawaha is the largest tributary of the St. Johns River, and Silver River is the largest tributary of the Ockalwaha. The 5-1/2 mile Silver River is the outflow of Silver Springs, one of the state's largest freshwater springs.
Appalachian Trail Photography
My first section hike of the Appalachian Trail and photography along the way.
Operation Migration Whooping Cranes
Each year since 2001 the non-profit organization Operation Migration has used ultralight aircraft to lead that year's juvenile whooping cranes from the breeding grounds in Wisconsin to Florida for the winter. After being shown the migration route once, the cranes head north on their own in the spring and return to Florida each succeeding winter. In 2011 I photographed the young cranes and ultralight as they were flying to their winter home.
My 'on the water' photography has increased greatly the past 4 years since purchasing a sea touring kayak that I found on Craig's List. Kayaking is a great way to see natural Florida and its flora and fauna.
The Fairchild Oak
One of the highlights of the local Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail is the Fairchild Oak, a majestic live oak tree estimated to be over 400 years old.
With the passing of Labor Day marking the end of summer from a cultural perspective, though not quite the closing of the season in either a meteorological or astronomical calendar, I thought summer vacations would be a fitting subject. As someone who still has a non-photography day job, vacations often present opportunities to pursue my part-time career while still providing recreation and 'down-time'. Over the years Virginia and I have traveled to a number of places, during which I have managed to capture some interesting subjects, branching out from my mainstay of Florida photography.
Chertok Photo Contest
Every year the Orange Audubon Society conducts the Kit & Sidney Chertok Florida Native Nature Photography Contest. This year (2014) I was asked to be one of the judges for the 26th annual contest. A number of other years I have won awards in this contest, including first place in 2009 for the just hatched loggerhead turtle "Heading Out To Sea".
Butterflies and Brown Velvet
My tweet of a Carolina satyr photograph prompted an exchange with a butterfly expert that lead to my discovering that among my images that I thought were Carolina satyrs were a newly described species of butterfly.
...Years Ago Today
Since we are over a quarter of the way through 2014, I thought I would explain my "...years ago today" tweets. Since the beginning of 2014 almost every day I have posted on twitter.com/WildFlPhoto a photo that was taken on that date sometime in the previous fifteen years. In the first three months there were only six dates that I had not taken photos on.
Great Horned Owls
In 2007 my image of a Great Horned Owl titled "Don't Mess With My Chicks" won 3rd Place in the Florida Birds! category of the Orange Audubon (Orlando Florida) Kit & Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest. This is the story about how I made this photograph.
Florida author Christopher Tozier interviews award-winning photographer Paul Rebmann
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