We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Program
Header Image: Red-shouldered Hawk
Summer is in full bloom here in gorgeous central Florida! We have high temperatures, so you won’t feel chilly, really high humidity to cleanse the pores of your skin, daily thunderstorms which are conveniently timed to coincide with your afternoon nap and plenty of the “Three B’s”: BIRDS, BLOOMS, BUGS!
(A kind individual in Ulaanbaatar recently asked: “Where ya been?”. Alas, an event called a “power surge” (not to be confused with political aspirations) resulted in a lack of said power being applied to our trusty computing device. We rushed the machine to the technological equivalent of an Emergency Room in the hope it could be saved. Evidently, some sort of matricide had taken the life of our “Mother Board”. I reckon the “Father Board” survived. After a small (cough, cough) reconstruction of hard/soft/other-ware, we are now back in the computing business! Sorry for not visiting blogs or producing any of our own. Not to worry! Although computer-less, we did not alter our exploration schedule so will be sharing bits and bobs as we are able.)
Today’s outing started and ended fairly early. By mid-morning, most living things begin to wilt at this time of year so short trips are in order. Sunrise among the lakes and tall cypress trees is pretty special. The calm water, morning flights of wading birds, night herons heading to their daytime roosts, Limpkins yelling at the sun, alligators staring from their nearly submerged positions – it is a wonderful reminder just how good life can be.
A walk down a grassy trail revealed insects beginning to become active as the sun dried the dew from their night-time perches. Dragonflies took notice. The whinny of a small Downy Woodpecker revealed her location overhead as she busied herself with probing anything that might hold an insect morsel. Glancing ahead, a Gray Squirrel foraged in the grass disturbing some small flying insects in the process. We appreciated the squirrel’s showing us where to point the camera!
Florida in summer is melon season! Sweet watermelon and cantaloupe by the lake, moonflowers still in bloom as the sun’s rays remind them it’s time to fold, the energetic song of a White-eyed Vireo, a vivid orange Gulf Fritillary – not a bad way to enjoy our breakfast.
The gorgeous day begged us to linger. So, we did. We are so weak.
Poor images cannot do justice to our actual experience. You should go and see for yourself!
No breeze at dawn and the calm water reflects the stately cypress trees with their sun-tainted beards of Spanish moss.
The early Green Heron gets the fish. Or frog. Or lizard. Or snake.
Like a richly colored emerald, a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) is alert to any movement which might be a meal.
Grass Skippers give me fits. Spotting one usually begins a game of hide-and-seek as they dive down into the grass and disappear. Then, the little orange/brown things fly off in one direction, reverse course, veer one way then another – not a game for an old person to enjoy for long! My best guess on this one is a Whirlabout (Polites vibex). Other suggestions are very welcome.
Small and almost non-stop in her search for food, a Downy Woodpecker examines what may be a tree gall.
When the bugs begin their commute to work, dragons help ease the amount of traffic. A female Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami) is more than willing to assist in traffic control.
Gray Squirrels don’t spend much time in the open like this as raptors have a habit of showing up unannounced – and hungry.
There certainly are a lot of insects on our planet! I believe this beetle is a Little Leaf Notcher (Artipus floridanus). Not a friend of our citrus growers.
Some botanical references call these blooms Tropical White Morning-glory. I prefer the simpler (and, to me, more romantic) Moonflower. Call it what you will, Ipomoea alba is lovely. Go early. Sunlight causes them to wilt.
Tiny. Hard to see through the camera’s viewfinder. Worth the effort. Attractive, yes. But how can I not like a moth called a Coffee-loving Pyrausta (Pyrausta tyralis)?
There are around 3,000 species of skipper butterflies worldwide. Thankfully, only a fraction of that number live around here! A distinctive species has long “tails” and it is not unusual to find individuals with one or both tails missing (due mostly to a predator). This Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes) is missing a tail, but it doesn’t detract from its beauty at all.
A common songbird year around here is the White-eyed Vireo. It would be hard to imagine a day’s outing without hearing this handsome bird’s distinctive call.
Roadsides, fields and forest edges are awash in orange lately. One of our most prolific butterflies, the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), has upper wings the color of our ripe oranges and underwings which resemble stained glass windows.
Another day in our tropical wonderland! Yeah, it’s hot and humid. Bugs are waiting to pierce your skin. Lightning strikes make you jump. Torrential rain may force you to take a detour. We love it.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
Good to see another post from you and Gini, Wally. Your images and ramblings were missed. You certainly made up for lost time with this grand selection of a few of the locals.
Technology! Well, we wouldn’t be blogging without it as you demonstrated much to your frustration. We used to laud a good mechanic. Now we laud a good geek. Certainly a valuable profession. I was out of commision a few years back and in my stupor I forgot that I left my computer in sleep mode. All that sleeping fried a couple of my externals including the one with my catalog. Fortunately an online genius helped me recover the lost files and I now have multiple catalog backups just like I always backed up to finished and raw files.
We have a different Pyrausta here but the same Pondhawk. I’d like to say skippers baffle me but we only see a couple of regulars so know them well enough. I’d love to have a few new ones to baffle me.
Thank you for the commiseration, Steve.
We take our technological, mechanical and electrical wonders for granted until we don’t have them one day. July in Florida with no A/C would be too terrible to contemplate, for example! However, I grew up in Miami with no A/C and never missed what I never knew about.
I’ll be happy to send you a batch of skippers to play with. If only I can catch them.
If only. Our butterfly population, at least in my yard, is down considerably. Other folks are saying they see a good number so maybe our yard is lacking something. We have planted a new garden although still sparsely flowered but hopefully it will draw more as time passes.
I also grew up with no a/c although not as rough as growing up in FL. When Mary Beth and I were buying a new car early on in our marriage we insisted on not having a/c because we didn’t think we needed it and didn’t want to pay for something we wouldn’t use. Fortunately we just could not find a new car without. When the car finally arrived we were told not to drive 55 for a thousand miles, the rule back then, so we drove the old car to D.C. to visit my sister in law and it was brutal. We were thrilled once we got the new comfy car. Aging does change our needs.
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Good to see you online again Wally and thanks for the trip report!
After our last power surge we splurged on a whole house surge protector. I don’t know if it will save us every time, but we. an always hope.
Thank you, Ed.
We are now sporting industrial-strength battery packs with surge protection. Sigh.
I really loved your extremely serene marina images!
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It’s good to have you back in Bloggerland Wally, even if you have returned considerably lighter in the wallet.
A wonderful set of images for us to enjoy, without having to brave the heat, although I suspect that our 39°c earlier in the week might have competed with your temperatures. It’s cooled off here now, but we desperately need rain.
I do, of course, really appreciate your dragonfly images, but it is that Gulf Fritillary that blew my socks off!
By amazing coincidence, I’d just come in from photographing a Pyrausta species in our garden before sitting down to look at your blog post. Our Pyrausta aurata is a little different to your P. tyralis, but readily identifiable as being from the same family.
My very best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard
We were happy to hear your tropical heat wave didn’t last too long!
Our odes have been plentiful of late but extremely camera shy. I suspect my old legs just cannot keep pace with their quick flights like they did once upon a time. The fritillaries are everywhere at the moment and we’re trying to take advantage of it.
That little Pyrausta is one of my favorites. My eyes wish it could be bigger.
Gini and I are having a lot of fun in between routine doctor appointments. Why do we seem to have more of such visits than we did 30-40 years ago?
Stay cool you two.
Welcome back, we missed you! Your unique view of the biggest, brightest, smallest, and wildest, is always a joy to share.
Thank you, Sam.
Good to be back. Now, if I can just keep up!
I am so pleased the experts managed to reconstruct you Wally. Good to see you back in the blogsphere and up to your old tricks. I hope that the repair job to your vital parts didn’t dent the bank balance too much?
You will be heartened to hear that our two days of catastrophic global warming are over and we are back to cool cloudy skies and Saturday morning showers with a promise of more sun next week.
I can see from the Green Heron image that you were up in the early morning sunshine and you are correct to say that those few hours are magical. No one around here in those precious minutes except for the occasional birder, ringers and dog walkers! And you found an insect after your own heart, a coffee lover no less? But now I expect you to find a creature new to science that you can name after yourself and Gini.
Look after yourselves and remember – only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
It is nice to be back as I was beginning to experience severe “blogosphere withdrawal” symptoms. Sitting at the desk for hours staring at a blank monitor screen, fingers curled and resting on a non-functioning keyboard, caressing the camera’s memory cards but having nowhere to plug them in to display the awesome creativity contained therein.
Not a pleasant time.
On the plus side, Gini and I continued to brave the extreme warming of the globe (formerly known as summertime) and found some new spots to explore and even discovered new aspects about old patches to enjoy.
It has been nice to be out just before sunrise in our favorite swampy forest habitat. Not only do we enjoy the coolest part of the day but, as you pointed out, we seldom encounter other humans. Not that we are anti-social – oh, wait. Never mind.
The only reason we have been outdoors at noon searching for that elusive creature new to science is because we wanted to emulate Englishmen (and, presumably Englishwomen). And we like dogs, but don’t know why they are mad.
Speaking of moths, it is time for more coffee. Both of us hope both of you have a wonderful weekend.
Brilliant to see you folks back!
Weird how we seem to have grown into this ‘modern’ world of computers and the like and sadly rely on them a wee bit too much. Doesn’t seem that long ago I got my first mobile (cell) phone. I still forget to turn it on much to Mrs H’s annoyance!
Anyway I guessed you made use of your time in the stone age by getting out and soaking up nature, so thanks for this lovely instalment.
We had a brief taste of Florida heat last week when temps topped out at a record breaking 40c. Not nice, we Brits can’t handle that but we could sure do with some rain,
Thank you for still visiting with us after our absence, Brian. You’re right about our reliance on our technology.
You are also right about us continuing to head out into the swamp, forest and field! Yes, it is hot and humid, but that’s Florida’s typical sub-tropical summer.
We shall try to send some rain your way but be warned the package may contain more humidity than you prefer. And lightning.
Really loved your recent butterfly extravaganza!
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Welcome back. And thank you (again) for sharing the beauty and the wonder that surrounds you.
It’s good to be back, EC.
Gini saw your frozen bubbles and is preparing to move somewhere which has freezing temperatures so she can play with the art form. Hopefully, her deranged fever will soon pass.
Have a great day!
Frozen bubbles are FUN. Heat and humidity are not. Tell Gini she would be very welcome.
Be careful what you wish for.
I just caught her online checking Qantas flights.
We love it too and get out as much as we can. It sure would be nice to have a little breeze though! Love learning some of the dragonfly IDs….if I could only remember them. We’re seeing lots of wildflowers and butterflies here too. Wish the birds and dragonflies could keep up with the number of biting flies though. They need to eat more! lol I’m happy to see you here and enjoy your beautiful photos! Happy weekend, Diane
Thank you, Diane!
I think I still have scars from Yankeetown yellow-flies from 30 years ago. We shall not even mention no-see-ums.
On the plus side, your photos have been inspiring! The only thing better than being at the coast is being at the coast AND having a breeze!
What a delight to find you with us again. When even your Mongolian readers inquire, you know your reach is substantial!
It seems as though summer’s a season of similarities for us. The Gulf Fritillary, Dorantes Longtail, the gray squirrel, and even the Coffee-loving Pyrausta are resident here. Right now, the marinas are full of Green Herons; one is roosting in a bald cypress. I’m in love with your Moonflower, though. The maps show it in a couple of counties along the Texas-Mexican border, and just north of me in Harris County (Houston), but otherwise it’s absent from the state. I can’t help wondering if it might have escaped cultivation from one of the Houston botanic gardens, etc. I’d love to see it.
Thanks for being patient with us. We take this technology stuff for granted – until it’s denied us, then we resort to whining. Loudly.
Nature offers us so much in every season. I need to remember to haul a ruler with me so I can measure the width of those Moonflowers. The vines can grow up to 40 feet long!
Was sorry to hear about your car repair saga but happy with your determination to solve a supply issue!
So glad to hear and see that you are connected again. You are a veritable spokesperson for Florida: hot, humid, bug-infested, highest number of lighting strikes, floods of biblical proportions. Can’t wait to come visit. 🙂
It’s good to be back.
Very happy to hear our description of local conditions has motivated you to plan a trip to our sub-tropical paradise!
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