Thursday, May 8, 2014

Black-bellied Plover and Friends

After a day at Ft Desoto's north beach, we stopped at the south end of the park to check out the mudflats for shore birds.  We were happy to see some Black-bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola) among a group of "peeps."  

Lots of great birding spots around Tampa Bay.

Liv and I grabbed our cameras for a few photos.....she had her Nikon D40 with 55-200 VR zoom, while I had my D3000 with Sigma 70-300 zoom.  THUS, these are all her pics, as the Sigma shots just weren't as good.

 Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail

Here are some "friends" hanging around the south end mudflats.  Really neat to see the Black-bellied Plover in distinct breeding plumage.

Osprey (Pandion haliatus).

Sanderling (Calidris alba).

The were a couple of Dunlins (Calidris alpina) in the group.

Short-billed Dowitchers (Limnodromus griseus) in a nice echelon left formation!

Semipalmated Plover (Charidrius semipalmatus).

The view from the south end of Ft Desoto park.  The Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Here's a video about the disaster when the old bridge was hit by a large ship.

So, the moral of this story is......keep your "go to" lens on your camera.  The Nikon lenses are just "better glass" for nature photography.  The Sigma has it's advantages for macro and slow moving insects.....but I will definitely keep the Nikon on and ready to go!

Nikon 55-200 VR link

Thanks Liv, for the great photos!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wildflower Walk with Florida's Native Plant Society

With 36 active chapters throughout Florida, the Native Plant Society is a dedicated group of botanists who protect habitat, create nature trails, hold native plant sales, lead field trips and teach about our wonderful and diverse flora.

The Mangrove Chapter of the FNPS, led by Chapter Rep Al Squires and Field Trip Chair Denny Girard led a group of over thirty enthusiasts in the Babcock-Webb WMA in Punta Gorda for a look at the spring wildflowers.

A beautiful Saturday in late April was perfect, with lots in bloom and "chamber of commerce" weather to explore the largest expanse of hydric pine flatwoods in the the state.

We saw so many interesting plants....more than I could ever list or even I've picked out a few to show you.  

 Wild Petunia ( Ruellia caroliniensis).

Group leader Al, giving some advice on what to look for.

 Lance-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia)

Field Trip Chair Denny checking the field guide for proper binomials.

 Thread-leaved Sundew (Drosera filiformis)

Good photos everywhere.

 Southern Fleabane (Erigeron quercifolius)

Society members kept records of all species seen.

 Large-flowered Sabatia (Sabatia grandiflora)

Some interesting fauna as well as flora.  Here is a 
Georgia Satyr (Neonympha aerolatus).

Georgia Satyr link

Horrible Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) with a Lubber Grasshopper Instar (Romalea guttata).
 Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Little Metalmark (Calephesis virginiensis).  The Sneezeweed above is one of it's host plants.

 Common Large Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia)

The Skullcap was particularly beautiful....and quite photogenic!

Climbing Butterfly Pea (Centrosema virginianum)

Could not forget the Florida Native Plant Society's logo...
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) in lovely bloom!

 Some parts of the Webb were still quite wet.....and as you can see below....we were not the only creatures out and about!

Babcock-Webb WMA link

Many thanks to the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida NPS for a wonderful outing....and to the Florida Wildlife Commission and staff of the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area.

At the end of a great outing....some advice from retired biology professor, Dr Bill Dunson...."Don't be overwhelmed.  Just learn one new thing on each outing, and there will always be more interesting things ahead."