September 21, 2014 13 Comments
The best thing about using an automatic wildlife camera is being surprised by what you see – it might be new behaviors, interesting perspectives, or even animals you didn’t know lived in your yard. What fun!
Nature Photography by Pam & Richard
September 18, 2014 11 Comments
Our automatic wildlife camera caught some unlikely animals eating together in our backyard in Florida. Each one has an important role in nature. These pictures make me smile. A good link about Florida wildlife is at: http://www.wildflorida.com/index.php
September 14, 2014 9 Comments
Summer and early Fall are the best time to see colorful land crabs in Florida. They live along the Atlantic coast from Central to Southern Florida, and are also found along the Gulf coast. We usually see them around the time of the full moon in August and September in the Sebastian/Vero Beach area. Giant blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) like to live in wet sandy burrows, and need to be within 5 miles of the ocean to spawn. Only one in a million eggs survives to adulthood. The distinctive brown “fuzz” around the mouth parts of land crabs is actually a net-like pattern of hairs. It works in conjunction with the internal gills to help them “breathe” while on land. Both male and female adult land crabs have one claw bigger than the other. The crabs can grow up to 6 inches across, and come in a variety of colors including blue, purple, red, orange, brown, and white. More info about the life history of these fascinating crabs is at: http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/blue-crabs/life-cycle/
May 23, 2014 4 Comments
In Florida, manatee mating activity peaks in spring and early summer. When wildlife societies receive calls about beached manatees this time of year, they explain that it is natural behavior and manatee love is in the air. A female manatee will usually be pursued by several males into shallow water, and that forms a mating herd. Florida’s West Indian manatee is an endangered species, so it is a real privilege to witness such an event. Best of all, a baby manatee will arrive a year later! At Sebastian Inlet State Park today, we saw 8 manatees off the pier in the ocean, and a mating herd of 4 on the lagoon side. A manatee named “Barney” swam beside the jetty (named by surfers for the barnacles on his skin).
May 8, 2014 10 Comments
Our first purple martin babies of spring are hatching! We currently have 6 nests with a total of 20 babies and 9 eggs, and more on the way. Our martins returned to Florida for nesting season on January 28. These large swallows spend half the year in North America, and the other half in Brazil. East of the Rockies, they are the only bird species dependent on people to provide nesting sites. As far back as the 1700s, Native Americans put up natural nesting gourds for the martins to use (http://www.purplemartin.org/update/Indigenous.html). The partnership was of mutual benefit, so it has continued over generations. Now the birds prefer to nest in backyards in human-supplied housing. They don’t mind nest checks by purple martin “landlords”, who keep a close eye on the birds for problems. Just about everyone who has hosted purple martins misses them when they migrate back to Brazil – they are such cheerful birds to have around. If you might like to host martins yourself, more info is at: http://www.purplemartin.org/ Other posts about our purple martins are at: http://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=martins
April 26, 2014 5 Comments
Lionfish are now seen frequently in Florida waters. These beautiful fish are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. DNA evidence suggests that all lionfish here can be traced back to 6-8 female lionfish that were released into the Atlantic Ocean. The first reported lionfish in Florida waters was caught by a fisherman offshore Dania in October 1985. The next report was of 6 red lionfish seen swimming in Biscayne Bay shortly after Hurricane Andrew washed an aquarium off a seawall there in 1992. Since each female lionfish can lay up to 2 million eggs per year, their numbers can grow quickly! Fishermen are being encouraged to catch them, since they are non-native and unbalance the natural ecosystem. Many restaurant owners have now added lionfish to their menus (the meat is firm and white and tastes like grouper). If you catch a lionfish, don’t touch the spines – they are venomous and will sting you.
UPDATE July 2014: It was recently reported that lionfish can survive in low salinity water and might impact freshwater ecosystems in Florida.