Nature On Display
Header Image: Golden-winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis)
“There is no blue like that of the Bluebird.” Gini The Profound. She is right, of course. At various angles and different light, the Eastern Bluebird’s plumage can be bright, subtle, both at the same time, but always amazing to see! We watched as the blue bundle dropped from the fence post to the grass and returned with a grasshopper which immediately disappeared. I once again was guilty of overindulgence as I clicked the shutter release of the camera one too many times. Our Bluebird of Happiness flew toward the tree line and remained out of sight.
We were happily investigating the roadways, paths, fields, forests, lakes and swampy areas of one of our local patches, Colt Creek State Park. The cloudless morning in late spring presented us with quite a different experience than just a few weeks ago. Then, the air was filled with bird songs and groups of hungry warblers marauded weeds and tree limbs for protein-rich insects. Now, the woods are relatively quiet except for the clear song of Northern Cardinals and the ascending trill of the Northern Parula. A Blue Jay in the distance reminds us Florida’s year-round residents should not be ignored.
In addition to several bird species (most of which were camera-shy), there were flowers offering a colorful show, a plethora of insects (especially dragonflies) and even a few mammals and reptiles skulking about. We drank it all in. Happily.
The scent of pine trees enveloped us as we sat in the shade, talking about family, munching freshly peeled tangerines. A Red-bellied Woodpecker above us “churred” loudly. The aroma of our citrus attracted a pair of bright Gulf Fritillaries. At treetop level, a black and white Swallow-tailed Kite displayed her aerobatic proficiency. Each step through the grass startled American Grasshoppers. Large and slim, as they flew a short distance ahead it was easy to see why they are also called Bird Grasshoppers.
The twenty-minute ride home was completed mostly in silence. Although I detected a few heavy sighs, I couldn’t tell which one of us produced them. As usual, both, I suspect.
It was such a relaxing time, I almost forgot to take any photographs today.
Gini spotted a pair of Eastern Bluebirds on a fence and one of them hung around a bit for a few photographs. I missed the capture of a juicy grasshopper, but the bird swallowed faster than I could click!
The Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina) can vary from dull brown to bright reddish-orange. It is one of our more common dragonflies.
Smaller than the saddlebags, but at least as common, is the Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).
Leavenworth’s Tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii) has small blooms but they are usually found in masses that give the appearance of a vast golden carpet covering the forest understory. This species is endemic to Florida and 12 other Coreopsis species are nearly endemic to the Sunshine State. Florida loves these plants so much the “state flower” has been designated as the entire Coreopsis genus!
Having the appearance of a small, rich tapestry the Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon) is a member of the diverse Brushfoot family of butterflies. If you have a chance to see the underside of their wings, it might remind you of stained glass art.
Gini’s acute hearing counted almost a dozen Northern Paula’s during our morning foray. My not-so-acute eyesight spotted exactly one. And he wasn’t interested in posing. At all.
For me, the Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) is one of the most attractive butterflies in Nature.
Subtle coloration with an intricate wing pattern, the Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) may not be as vibrant as her cousin the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), but she is equally beautiful.
A fairly large skimmer, the Golden-winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis) is typically found in taller weeds near ponds and lakes. In the right light, one discovers how they received their name.
One of our local three dark-bodied skimmers, the Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) can be distinguished by its bright blue eyes and white face. (The other two are Slaty and Bar-winged Skimmer.)
Someday, I shall be apprehended for skulking around outdoor bathrooms with a camera. Until then, I hope to keep finding cool stuff like this. Research and friendly entomologists indicate it is a Red-headed Inchworm Moth (Macaria bisignata). Alternative opinions appreciated!
Extremely similar to the Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina) above, a Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) has a different face color, a characteristic open space in the hindwing “saddle” and slightly different black markings near the end of the abdomen.
If he weren’t so attractive, the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) could almost be called flamboyant!
A new trail has been created around a small pond. The sign on the bank says “Visitor’s Spa”, but it was written in Native Alligator so I skipped the invitation.
The Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) is the most widely distributed hairstreak in North America. That said, I only encounter them infrequently. And have a chance to photograph them even less frequently.
American Grasshoppers (Schistocerca americana) are one of our most common grasshoppers. Their ability to fly short distances has provided them with the alternate name of American Bird Grasshopper.
A lake is nothing but a really big bird bath. This Common Ground Dove appreciates the water no matter the source.
Our morning adventure was refreshing, relaxing and exciting. We strongly recommend you try it for yourself. Nature has plenty of resources and she is happy to share!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!