Posts Tagged With: leaf-footed bug

From The Back Yard To The Back Of Beyond

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. —A.A. Milne

 

Since my recent discovery of digital photography, I have been a bit reckless in the number of images produced during a typical outing. Then came the revelation that my camera has a magic setting, which, when selected, allows me to simply depress a shiny little button to take hundreds of images in less than a second! Well, maybe it’s only nine or ten images, but let’s not get too technical. The result of all this magnificent science is a “virtual” cardboard box full of photographs which no one is ever likely to see, government agencies and the 12-year old hacker down the street notwithstanding.

I planned to be diligent in deleting images of less than perfect quality, but that strategy would leave me with no images at all. Clearly, there needs to be a middle ground. Accordingly, “spring cleaning” of photograph folders buried deep within my computer’s closet resulted in tens of thousands of images being sent to their final resting place in image heaven. (There seems to be a trend developing in this post whereby data is apparently exaggerated. Suffice it to say, I got rid of a bunch of dark, out of focus, uninteresting and just plain lousy pictures! It felt good to “lighten the load”!)

However, there were still photos I didn’t want to let go. I liked them. For whatever reason, they were never used in a blog post. Until now. The pictures below were all taken within the past three months or so and range from back yard butterflies to a deep swamp Barred Owl. A few bugs may have crawled in amongst the photos in the box as well.

Herewith are the results of my first ever “photographic spring cleaning of images left in the computer after the others were either already used or tossed out” extravaganza. In no particular sense of order whatsoever.

 

In my humble opinion, the Zebra Swallowtail is one of the most attractive butterflies I’ve ever seen.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

 

When we first spotted this male Wild Turkey (“gobbler”), he was holding court with three hens. The hens ducked under the fence as soon as they spotted me but the “Tom” remained behind to ensure I was no threat to his harem.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

 

The only Anole lizard native to the United States is the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis).  They average 5-8 inches (12.7-20.3 cm) in length and can change coloration to greenish-brown or dark brown (they are no relation to the Chameleon, however). In the past several years, Florida has seen several non-native Anoles, especially the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), spread throughout the state and there is some evidence they may be displacing the native Green Anole. Hope not.

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

 

These are most likely eggs of a Softshell Turtle. The female turtle excavates a burrow and lays up to as many as two dozen eggs then covers the burrow to incubate the eggs. From this point, the eggs (and eventually baby turtles) are on their own. They face a dizzying array of threats. This nest was likely discovered by a Raccoon and we found no viable eggs remaining. (In the same area, we observed six female Softshell Turtles in the process of laying eggs, so Nature provides for the species.)

Turtle Eggs

Turtle Eggs

 

An Eastern Towhee prefers the very top of a bush or tree to keep a look out for threats or potential mates. Most Florida species have a light-colored eye whereas those further north have reddish eyes.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

 

The small and very fast Viola’s Wood-Satyr is not all that common and there is apparently a question if it and the similar Little Wood-Satyr are the same species. In spite of this buggy brouhaha, I think it’s pretty.

Viola's Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

Viola’s Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

 

Our area usually enjoys an influx of wintering Pied-billed Grebes, but only a few remain during summer and breed here. I was happy to find one recently sporting breeding plumage instead of the drab winter colors normally encountered. Now, if I can just locate those babies…..

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

 

I don’t know what kind of prey this Eastern Bluebird has, but I counted 15 times that the bird slammed it onto the top of that fence post. Suitably tenderized, he swallowed the morsel in one gulp.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 

After attempting to follow the fast, zig-zag flight of this bright butterfly through the camera, I had to sit down due to dizziness. I wanted to find the genius who named it “Sleepy Orange” and throttle him/her! Then I discovered it was so named due to the upper wing pattern resembling a closed eye. I couldn’t see that, either.

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

 

While I was preparing morning coffee recently, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers appeared outside the kitchen window. Although both were about the same size, it was apparent one was a juvenile male and I watched as the adult male drilled into our oak tree and found many worms/grubs for Junior to enjoy.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

After examining a Leaf-footed Bug, I decided that science fiction animators/film makers must employ entomologists to give them ideas on how alien life might appear.

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

 

Gini and I found a very young Red-shouldered Hawk last week who wouldn’t stop screeching. Not too far away, we heard one of his parents calling back, probably trying to encourage the youngster to fly home. He would climb up and down the tree limb but didn’t attempt to become airborne while we were watching. His extended crop indicates he just ate well.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

 

This attractive small butterfly is a Cassius Blue. The blue/violet is visible on the upper wings, which, of course, is seldom displayed. I’ll keep trying!

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

 

Walking down a sandy path in a deep woods adjacent to a wetland, I was startled by a White-tailed Deer springing across the path. It happened too fast to get a picture. I bent down to examine the foot prints she left. As I stood up, I looked into the deep, dark eyes of a Barred Owl. I’m sure she was amused by how I jumped when the deer bolted in front of me.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

 

 

So, spring cleaning of the computer’s closet yielded a few images I thought I’d share. Please, whatever you do, don’t tell Gini I engaged in spring cleaning!! Going into the garage is a frightening thought …..

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

High Times In Highlands County

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people– Will Rogers

I truly enjoy watching my wife tackle an artistic endeavor.  She analyzes what needs to be done, develops a plan of attack, gathers the necessary materials and then performs magic.  At least, it’s magic to me.  I possess no such talent for producing something beautiful from, literally, nothing but an idea.  Whether she’s drawing or making a gift box decorated with paper flowers and doves, observing her while she’s creating is awe-inspiring.

That’s the way it is with someone who has knowledge or skills we may not.  We envy that person, we wish we could do what they do, we are amazed at the results they achieve and we want to be around them in the hope some of that talent will transfer to us.  Guess what?  Sometimes it does.  We may not reach their level of expertise, but just by hanging around such folks we almost can’t avoid learning something!

Sunday morning coffee was in a paper cup which imparted a unique flavor to my daily dose of caffeine.  The truck zigzagged through the dark along a series of back roads en route to a pre-dawn rendezvous with two of Florida’s top birders.  They would be characteristically too modest to agree with that description, but, hey, it’s my blog!  One of them can hear a Scrub Jay whisper in a hurricane a half mile away.  The other personally knows the address of every bird in the county and requires migrants to file a flight plan with him.

Today we intended to explore likely birding locales in Highlands County (we are all residents of Polk County, to the immediate north).  As the sun broke the horizon, we squinted eastward across the surface of Lake Jackson in Sebring.  About a dozen migrating Black Terns were actively feeding near the public boat ramp and picnic area.  They have lost their black plumage and transitioned to non-breeding colors as they prepare to continue on to the Caribbean.  A Belted Kingfisher was there and is also a migrant, but may stay in the area all winter.

Highlands Hammock State Park on the south side of Sebring consists of over 9,000 acres of oak and cypress hammock, swamp, black water creeks, pine forest and scrub.  Hikes along a couple of different paths produced 9 warbler species, including a singing Louisiana Waterthrush, 4 woodpecker species, White-eyed and Red-eyed vireos, a Brown-headed Nuthatch and a Summer Tanager.  Competing with the bird life were myriad insects, amphibians and reptiles.

After lunch (I can’t believe these guys stopped to eat), we explored a small park on the north side of Lake Istokpoga.  We were greeted at the parking area by a half dozen calling Sandhill Cranes and another half dozen Black Vultures (who were just finishing lunch themselves-armadillo, I think).  We found a colorful American Redstart, Tufted Titmice, a Great Crested Flycatcher and an adult and juvenile Purple Gallinule.

A short drive to the north and our noses alerted us we were nearing our objective, Bishop’s Dairy.  The continually wet mud which cows seem to enjoy is home to millions of insects.  Migratory shorebirds love this smorgasbord and we found a few Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers attending the banquet.  In an isolated mud puddle, a Solitary Sandpiper bathed and chased his own meal around the water.  Three dozen European Starlings, a couple dozen Cattle Egret, four dozen Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mourning and Eurasian Collared Dove, White Ibises and a Loggerhead Shrike rounded out the attendees at the dairy buffet.

Just around the corner from the dairy is an area of extensive pasture land, low lying fields and scattered ponds.  The abundant rain this summer has inundated most of this area and has attracted quite a variety of bird life.  We counted over 100 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, many of which were juveniles.  Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, 80 Cattle Egret, two dozen White Ibis, 50 Glossy Ibis, over a dozen Sandhill Cranes, almost two dozen Yellowlegs, 7 Black-necked Stilts, 5 Loggerhead Shrikes and an American Kestrel, among others, were enjoying the abundance of food in these fields.  We found a recently plowed field which hosted a couple of dozen Kildeer, Least Sandpipers and a half dozen Semipalmated Plovers.  One of the highlights in this area was a “kettle” of vultures spiraling up into the blue sky.

As afternoon thunderstorms built up, we headed home, happy to have tallied over 80 species of birds for the day.  My thanks to two companions who were generous with their knowledge and patient with an old dog still trying to learn a new trick or two.  These guys aren’t just good birders, they are true gentlemen.

 

I managed a few snapshots during the day and have included a sampling in the hope you might share a bit of the experience we had.

Lake Jackson Area

Black Tern

Black Tern

Black Tern

Black Tern

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Highlands Hammock State Park

Path

Path

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

The smaller spider is the male.  Keeping his distance from his spouse!

Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)

Golden Silk Orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)

Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper

Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Yellow Rat Snake

Yellow Rat Snake

Carolina Satyr

Carolina Satyr

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

Florida Leaf-footed Bug (?) (Family Coreidae??) - Possibly Acanthocephala terminalis females.

Florida Leaf-footed Bug (?) (Family Coreidae??) – Possibly Acanthocephala terminalis females.

Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius )

Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius )

Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) - (?)

Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum) – (?)

 

This is the smallest toad species in North America with an average length of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).

Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

Lake Istokpoga Park

Purple Gallinule (Juvenile)

Purple Gallinule (Juvenile)

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) - Male

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) – Male

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) - Male

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) – Male

Bishop’s Dairy

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Scrubpens Road

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Note how the parents station themselves at either end of the ducklings to stand watch.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

Kettle of Vultures

Kettle of Vultures

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

 

As late afternoon thunderstorms build, Cattle Egret seek shelter, and so did we as we headed home.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

 

I may not be any smarter just for hanging around smart people, but I do enjoy being around anyone who can lead me to over 80 species of birds in one day.  And I do have my occasional strokes of genius.  After all, I was smart enough to marry Gini over 45 years ago!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

 

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

 

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

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