Photographing Wildlife Safely

If you’re reading this, you probably take a lot of photos. And, odds are, you’ll be taking many more. So there will always be another great shot to replace one missed, provided the photographer puts safety first. Safety begins when one pauses for the shot and glances down. Is she standing next to a venomousContinue reading “Photographing Wildlife Safely”

Winter Birds at Sweetwater Wetlands (Gainesville, FL)

From a distance, there appeared to be a lot of dead vegetation in the marsh. It looked like scattered chunks of palm bark. Then, in the water, I noticed a duck with a bright orange bill. I lifted my binoculars for a better look, and then realized that the woody shreds were moving. This wasn’tContinue reading “Winter Birds at Sweetwater Wetlands (Gainesville, FL)”

Walkingstick Rescue

I’ve been partial toward stick insects since my husband and I hiked a Florida park, where sporadic high-pitched whines crossed the trail in waves. Sometimes the sound was nearly imperceptible, then slowly grew in volume. At its peak, the sound matched the whir of green aliens in outer space movies. Late that afternoon, we noticedContinue reading “Walkingstick Rescue”

Beauveria bassiana – An insect-eating fungus

I noticed something along the trail – a 1 cm, white gob hanging from the underside of a palmetto frond. It looked like a small bird dropping, except that it was alone and on the wrong side of the leaf. Something about the curvature of the spot suggested an insect. I’d read that some caterpillarsContinue reading “Beauveria bassiana – An insect-eating fungus”

Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting

On the ground, I noticed a translucent stem with a pinkish tinge, black flecks, and drooping, waxlike petals. It resembled the potato I’d grown in darkness, part of a fourth-grade science experiment. I thought it might be a sucker emerging from a nearby tree root, but took a photo just in case. The lighting conditionsContinue reading “Indian Pipe flower – a rare sighting”

European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors

While hiking, I noticed a wasp with striking bands of yellow and black. It ignored me as I filmed, enraptured by the blossoms of White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a poisonous plant native to the eastern United States. The insect was a European Paper Wasp (Polistes dominula), a species introduced into Boston in the 1970s. UnlikeContinue reading “European Paper Wasp cooperative with nestmates and neighbors”

Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is known for its large garden and ancient oak trees. As I walked the roadside edging the garden, I heard a scream. I stopped and listened. Silence, then the screaming resumed. And this time it didn’t stop. I was alone in the park and, as I ran to the sound,Continue reading “Screams in the garden: Encounter with an Eastern Black Racer”

A decorated cocoon and the bagworm moth

I’ve learned that wooden fences attract small animals, particularly on warm days. Today, a row of interesting cocoons was seen hanging beneath an uppermost rail. So I snapped a shot for identification. But discovering the maker of this cocoon wasn’t that easy. Internet sources seemed to agree that it belonged to a bagworm-moth larva; butContinue reading “A decorated cocoon and the bagworm moth”

Photos from the Butterfly Rainforest

The photos below were taken during a visit to the Butterfly Rainforest, a year-round exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, FL). The best time to photograph the butterflies is in the morning, when the natural lighting is soft and the butterflies are warming up for daytime flight. Once the sun is directlyContinue reading “Photos from the Butterfly Rainforest”

Roaches on the beach?

It was cold, windy, and overcast along the shore, with forecasters warning of an approaching Nor’easter. I saw a line of pelicans, a single Ruddy Turnstone, a single Sanderling, and a handful of people. But there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Sea Slaters (Ligeria exotica). I’ve glimpsed a single Sea Slater from time to time,Continue reading “Roaches on the beach?”