November 16, 2014 8 Comments
It has been a beautiful year for flowers at McKee Gardens. There is always something in bloom. Come and visit sunny Florida – the weather is perfect!
Nature Photography by Pam & Richard
November 6, 2014 10 Comments
Florida has two large pink birds that you might see when visiting – spoonbills and flamingos. Both get their pretty pink color from carotenoids in the shrimp and algae they eat. The more carotenoids they eat, the pinker they get!
Roseate spoonbills are named for their spatulate-shaped bills – they are the pink bird you will see in the wild. Spoonbills feed by touch, and swing their bills back and forth through the water to find food. Their sensitive bills instantly snap shut on small fish, insects, and crustaceans. They can be found throughout the state, especially near coastal mangroves in central and southern Florida. Places we’ve seen spoonbills include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (in the mangroves along Black Point Drive); Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge; nesting in the wild at both the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Gatorland (in Kissimmee); and various other places including the Viera Wetlands, Orlando Wetlands, and the Sarasota/Tampa area.
Flamingos are usually seen in formal exhibits, but a wild group of 147 birds was discovered living in western Palm Beach County in May 2014. It is believed they migrated from their native breeding range in the Caribbean and Mexico. Long ago there had been a small breeding population deep in the Everglades, so scientists hope the birds get reestablished in the state. A flamingo feeds by holding its bristle-lined bill upside down as a scoop to sieve out brine shrimp, algae, and other aquatic organisms from the water. Flamingos are an iconic symbol of Florida, and can be seen at many zoos, wildlife conservation centers, and theme parks (in summer they can be seen on their mud-cup nests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
October 16, 2014 14 Comments
What a joy to see what pictures are waiting for us when we download them from the automatic wildlife camera! It’s such a treat every time. I placed some pumpkins outside for a Fall theme, and the raccoons and turkeys are having a wonderful time out there. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the turkeys have been eating the pumpkin on the right!
October 11, 2014 2 Comments
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is an excellent place to see rare and beautiful plants in Sarasota, Florida. The gardens are gorgeous! The organization is dedicated to botanical research, education, and conservation. The Tropical Conservatory houses rare bromeliads and orchids from around the world that bloom year round. The gardens specialize in epiphytes – plants that cling to other plants and have no roots in the ground (such as bromeliads, ferns, orchids, and pitcher plants). After you finish visiting the garden, it is only a 5 minute drive across the causeway to Sarasota’s white sugar sand beaches and Mote Marine Laboratory. More info is at: http://selby.org/ A previous post is at: http://naturetime.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/florida-marie-selby-botanical-gardens/ An interesting article about exotic Asian tropical flowers and pitcher plants is at: http://factsanddetails.com/asian/cat68/sub435/item2425.html
September 18, 2014 13 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 11 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/