Long Lake

It’s that time of year when we sweep out the old in preparation for the new.

In a dusty corner of the archive closet, covered in cobwebs deposited by Halloween goblins, I found a few images which need to be shared. Hope you don’t mind.

We gave ourselves a treat on All Hallows’ Eve this year and spent the morning poking around another of the gems which makes up the Tenoroc Fish Management Area, the Long Lake tract. The lake is about one mile long and less than 600 feet across at the widest point. It is bound on the north by residential development, on the south by industrial warehouses and on the east and west by busy roadways. Within the tract, there is a nice oasis of pine woods, a small pond in addition to Long Lake, hardwood trees along the lake shore and a small wetland with a lagoon on the tract’s northeast corner.

Typical Florida weather for this time of year found us enjoying high humidity with heavy dew, little wind, mostly sunny skies and by 11:00 a.m. temperatures around 80 F (27 C). Halloween spirits prevailed and we discovered a plethora of spider webs at each stop and even a few of the construction engineers hanging about. Common Gallinules fussed as we interrupted their breakfast. Boat-tailed Grackles threw back their heads and let loose with raucous calls from high atop utility line support towers. Evidence of the ongoing fall migration manifested in myriad warblers in the weeds and trees. We saw our first of this season’s Yellow-rumped Warblers. A Red-shouldered Hawk was uncharacteristically silent as he peered down from his perch.

A morning such as this far surpasses any sugary treat we may have received from our neighbors. And we didn’t even have to wear a costume.

Belatedly – Trick or Treat!

Our sub-tropical environment allows us to enjoy many insects later in the year than some other locales. An immature male Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) begins life looking like the female and in a couple of weeks will assume the purplish hues of an adult male.

Spider webs sparkle with drops of dew in the early morning light. These webs may have been made by one of the Spotted Orbweavers (Neoscona species). In the second image, you can see one of the builders in the upper left.

Small and stealthy, a male Common Yellowthroat is curious what I’m doing tramping around in his weed patch.

I know we have plenty of bugs at this time of year, but I was still surprised to find a pair of Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) in the forest understory. These damselflies have four different color variations depending on sex and age.

Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Adult Male
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Immature Heteromorph Female

Palm Warblers are among the first songbirds to show up as fall migration begins. They almost constantly pump their tales up and down which helps identify them even at a distance.

Our first Yellow-rumped Warblers of this fall were very busy at our initial stop. They were scooping up all the insects they could find in the trees and the willows along the shore of a small pond.

Small size, big thinker. The small Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis) often spins fairly large webs during the night. This one easily spanned over two feet in diameter.

Pine Warblers can vary widely in appearance. The first photograph shows a fairly pale individual while the second has more yellow.

There are three species of the Leucauge genus of spiders found within North America. This genus is part of the Longjawed Orbweaver Family (Tetragnathidae). The first image is L. argyrobapta and the second is L. argyra. The third species, L. venusta, has been determined to not inhabit Florida. These three species have been referred to as Orchard Orbweavers or Orchard Spiders. Within N. America, L. argyra has been found only in central and south Florida. (There will be a test!)

Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge argyrobapta)
Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge argyra)

Scooting down a tree trunk like a nuthatch, a Black-and-White Warbler proves one does not need a lot of different colors to be beautiful.

Ever have that feeling that you are being watched? As I glanced up, a Red-shouldered hawk was intently monitoring my movements.

Our Halloween was filled with so many wonderful treats this year! Excuse me, but I must return to the archive closet. I just KNOW there are more treats to be found!

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

29 Comments on “Long Lake

  1. I won’t go so far as to say that your introductory paragraphs are my favorite part of your posts, it is hard for words to surpass your pictures, but they sure are enjoyable. And this post is full of enjoyable images. The first Common Yellowthroat…witchity, witchity, witch…really whets one’s appetite for more and then the Palm Warbler more than satisfies. And during our barren yet currently warm winter it is great to see dragonflies, damselflies, and spiders even if from afar. Having orbweavers here in the yard I have learned that most devour their webs in the morning to then spin a new one the following evening.
    Now looking forward to what else appears from the dark dusty shadowy corners of the archive closet.

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Steve. Your gracious remarks made this day better.

      I keep thinking I need to dedicate a trip to just spiders/dragonfiles/landscape/fungi – but when I actually arrive at a destination, there is SO MUCH to see! I’m weak and try to photograph it all.

      Cold front arriving as we speak. Will be near freezing and windy in the morning. Sunday will be near freezing and calm.

      I believe tomorrow will be “consume coffee” day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’ll be about the same here but with wind. I don’t mind the cold too, too much but add wind chill and it’ll be a consume something day for me also. Stay in bed with the dog day as well. Wind is the one condition I don’t enjoy most any time of the year. I’ve been bonked in the woods a few times on a windy day and am lucky to have such a hard and thick noggin. But I no longer press my luck.
        I tend to look for landscape imagery most often, obviously and especially in the early morning. But I am easily distracted by most anything I come across in nature so really can’t describe myself as any specific sort of photographer. For awhile I had lofty notions of making a living from photography but failing that I am quite happy just enjoying it and that allows for pursuing whatever I wish. Sunrises or spiders, winter abstracts or wildflowers. Butterflies or FROGS!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course that leads to carrying a larger assortment of lenses which my creaky old old back complains about more each year.

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      • Yes sir, the wind is forecast to be 18-20mph at sunrise tomorrow with a temp of 34. Bed, coffee, snuggling with my Birding Boss kind of day.

        As to that creaking back thing …..
        Preacher —-> Choir.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. While I have (mostly) overcome the arachnophobia of my childhood and adolescence, I’m still not extremely fond of looking at photos of spiders, especially if they are big and hairy. But the small and elegant arachnids in your images, along with their lacy webs, don’t scare, but fascinate.
    Wishing you both a new year filled with many more wonderful discoveries in your natural places.
    All the best,
    Tanja

    Like

    • Danke, Tanja!

      Spiders are so fascinating, both in appearance and behavior. some species work so hard to build strong and intricate webs when the sun goes down, capture and consume any prey they may snare and then ingest the web to remove it when the sun is up again. Their beauty is so unique.

      If we come across an especially large, hairy and fearsome individual, we’ll still snap his picture, but we’ll post a “Warning: Scary Image Ahead” sign for you! (Just scroll by real fast.)

      In the meantime, thank you for your wish and we’ll attempt to discover new places, as well as rediscover old ones, every chance we get.

      Frohes neues Jahr!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wally, your blog posts always make me smile. Thanks for sharing! You definitely had more treats than tricks on this outing. Happy New Year to you and Gini!!

    Like

    • Howdy, Stranger!

      We always try to turn stuff into “treats”. The old “make lemonade” thing. Our grandson refers to us “disgustingly happy”. We may get Tee shirts with that on it!

      If Gini sees that cam you got your Mom, I’ll never get her out in the swamp again!

      Happy New Year, Jess.

      Like

  4. Greetings, Wally! I have managed to surface again to enjoy your latest offering. I can’t help but be jealous of you having 12 months of odo flying. I was, however, most impressed by the spectacular abdomen of that Spinybacked Orbweaver, and the abdomen colours of that Leucauge argyrobapta (can’t italicise comments) are pretty wonderful too!

    All seems to be on the up here. Best wishes to you both for 2023 – – – Richard

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    • Thank you so much Richard for taking time out to provide your typically gracious comments. We know you are very busy with much more important tasks right now. Please give Lindsay our best wishes.

      Yes, we are definitely spoiled with our abundance of natural riches!

      We’re all prepared for a quiet New Year’s Eve to be followed by an equally calm New Year’s Day.

      It’s very good to hear things there are on the up!

      Happy New Year to us all!

      Like

  5. Hello Wally and Gini. Good to see you escaped the foul weather across the rest of America. We now have the tail end of that weather in the form of wind and rain without the snow thank goodness. All the excess travel during the holiday season led to bad news for UK Tesla owners many many had to queue for three hours to top up their batteries with electricity made from imported gas from the US. The economics of the Green Madhouse and useful idiots, we have lots.

    Our respective archive photos prove invaluable during lean times, my own more often than your Floridian sunshine pictures. I will be using some of my own in a day or two as the first pencilled in day for getting out birding or ringing is well into 2023.

    I wish you both a splendid and prosperous New Year. Keep those photos and your insightful words coming.

    In the meantime, itโ€™s back to the kitchen for me in preparation for New Yearโ€™s Day when we have 6 adults and 5 grandkids over for lunch. I have been allocated the task of Potato Peeler in order to construct a giant Lancashire Hotpot (with mushy peas) that will last about one hour and leave a huge pile of dishes to wash for guess who?

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    • Our days have returned to acceptably warm temperatures and we feel very fortunate to have avoided the dire situations some have faced the past couple of weeks.

      We’ll be out on January 2nd participating in the annual Audubon Christmas bird count. Gini and I will cover an area of swamp, pasture and mixed wood forest. We’ll begin at 0400 listening for owls and end at sunset. Should be fun!

      Ahhh, another Potato Peeler pressed into service! I just returned with several metric tons of spuds and have been informed they are all mine. I shall need a larger garbage can.

      Happy New Year!

      Like

  6. That first photo of the Palm Warbler, with the cascading orange-sherbet background, is fabulous. Even the green of the lichens adds to the overall effect. I like the almost black-and-white spider webs, too. The second is especially appealing, with the web and the branches forming a circle. It’s interesting about the Orchard Orb-weavers. As I recall, the ones I’ve come across are L. venusta. The first Rambur’s Forktail would make a classy piece of jewelry: gold for the body, and blue and green enamel for the highlights.

    Only this week — Tuesday, I think — the warblers showed up at my feeders. The Yellow-Rumped is pretty easy for me to ID now, and I do think the others might be Palm Warblers. It’s been too foggy and rainy for a decent photo, but I washed my windows today — that will help!

    Like

    • That sherbet background is a dead pine bough with the morning sun highlighting the brown needles.

      The spiders are so interesting. Masterful engineering and incredibly diverse appearance.

      The warblers are definitely increasing in number around here.

      We hope you have a safe and Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful spoonbill header and I really enjoy the warbler photos. The Pine Warblers perplexed me a bit when I moved to Florida. Thought the dullest ones were different species, but which? The spider webs ar so sharp. On my early morning walks in Florida I often disturbed orbs as they crossed the path. I was amazed to see how quickly the spider disassembled and presumably ingested them.

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    • Happy New Year, Ken!

      It’s amazing when the Pine Warblers gather in a group feeding on the ground with some plain gray, some bright yellow and some in-between! As you said, easy to think they are different species!

      I need to spend a whole morning soon targeting just spider webs.

      Like

  8. I love the little orbweaver and think it looks like an alien spaceship! I couldn’t believe the details the first time I zoomed in on one. Beautiful Spoonbills in your banner! WOW! I hope you are both feeling much better and enjoy this week and the nicer weather. Take care and Happy New Year….oh and Happy Halloween too!

    Like

    • Alien life form pretty much sums up the world of spiders!

      Found those Spoonbills just a couple of days ago a half hour after sunset. Was surprised the image was useable.

      Happy New Year!

      Like

    • Hiya EC!

      Aren’t the spiders fascinating?

      Hope you’re not having too much heat this year. Would be happy to send you some cool air if you need it.

      Happy New Year!

      Like

  9. I swear that the Red-shouldered Hawk has the sweetest face ever, especially for a predator. And how wonderful that you caught the rainbows in the spider’s web. Some friends and I spent about 45 minutes one day photographing some huge circles spread under the Live Oaks, trying to capture those rainbows. Thanks for sharing another great excursion!

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