Category Archives: Insects

Perfect Sunday afternoon paddle – Womack Creek – May 18, 2014

The green fly orchid, is the only north Florida epiphyte which grows on trees.   There are several small stands in Womack Creek and also in Deep Creek in Tate’s Hell, but we have never seen it bloom.   This year, noticing dried bloom stems, we  GPS’ed the locations and checked on it every time we paddled these two areas.  Last week we saw the bud stems and today, not on those bud stems which we had flagged, but on another stand, we saw these miniature orchids, not even 1/2 inches from tip to tip of the petals.   But orchids, they were, and it made our day.

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Another memorable sight:  a banded sphinx moth, which alighted on Ed’s arm when we were trying to determine whether the rushes were sedges, rushes or grasses.  It stayed there for the duration of the photo shoot and would have remained there  had we not flung it into the air to fly away. 

 

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And on a warm day, one can always see a snake or two, and alligators (4) and zillions of turtles.

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And damsel flies, dragon flies, other insects, including yellow flies — it’s busy on that creek when the weather starts warming up.

Not to mention the flowers.   Roses in bloom right now, Dahoon hollies; soon muscadines, large stands of swamp titi and Southern arrowwood.  The clematis crispa vines are thriving and this summer one should see a lot of these bell shaped flowers.

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Swamp titi — just a few in bloom, soon huge stands throughout the creek.

 

 

 

 

 

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Swamp rose – fragrant.

 

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Clematis crispa — on vines.

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Muscadine blossoms, just starting to bloom. Lots of blooms this year, if pollinated, lots of little muscadines in late September.

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Stands of Cowcreek spider lily and false dragon head.

And the fish were jumping!

 

Paddling Womack Creek on Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2014

Banded water snake, Nerodia fasciata fasciata. Adult size 24-42 inches. Non-venomous, but can bite. When confronted may exude a musky odor. Bears live young. In western panhandle interbreeds with yellow belly watersnake (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster). Range: Florida northern peninsula through panhandle, South Alabama and along Atlantic coastal plain to Virginia. Eats fishes and frogs.

 

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Redbelly water snake, Nerodia erythrogaster eryghrogaster. Adult size 2-4 feet, non venomous, bears live young 11-30 about 9-11 1/2 inches long. Food: fishes & frogs. Habitat: rivers, lakes, swamps, marshes and cypress strands. In summer heat active mostly in early morning, late afternoon and night.

 

 

 

 

 

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With stunning colored head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Young and old of banded water snake.

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Meanwhile, on any log they can find in the high water, the turtles are sunning, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming now on Womack Creek:

 

 

 

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Cowcreek Spider Lily, an endemic species only found in this area. Discovered by Prof Loran Anderson, emeritus, FSU, biology.

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Male Ogeche tupelo, providing the nectar for tupelo honey. Bees buzzing all over these blossoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Female Ogeche tupelo, it’s drupes are food for wildlife in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Narrowleaf evening primrose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia sweetspire, a few still blooming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And most of the swamp dogwoods are going to seed, food for migratory songbirds in the fall.

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The last of the American wisteria. Unliked the invasive exotic Asian wisteria, the American wisteria has a thicker clump of blossoms and does not invade an area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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False indigo in the peak of bloom and favorite flower of bees and hornets

 

 

 

 

 

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Spatterdock just beginning to bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swamp rose and clematis crispa

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Swamp rose, almost white. The roses perfume the air around them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of activity on the creek:

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Lady bug beetle on muscadine leaf, swamp titi buds just below.

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See what looks like the discarded shell of the bug (or larvae) on the swamp titi leaf just above the beetle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And dragonflies all over the creek.

Leaving the creek, still in Tate’s Hell State Forest, the honey harvest from titi blossoms which bloomed throughout the forest in April.

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A sweet ending to a warm and sunny day.

 

 

Listed species – Blackwater River State Forest

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Gopher Tortoise

Blackwater River State Forest is home to many species on the federally endangered and threatened list.

  • 1 Fish
  • 5  Amphibians
  • 8 Reptiles
  • 5 Birds
  • 3 Mammals
  • 54 Invertebrates
  • 19 Plants and Lichens

The Nature Conservancy says of Blackwater River State Park:

“Considered by many as Florida’s premier state forest, Blackwater River State Forest — 209,571 acres and counting — is the bedrock of a conservation complex that hosts an amazing 300 species of birds and 2,500 species of plants.  One of the most biologically rich areas in the US, the forest is part of a vital nature corridor that gently rolls from Conecuh National Forest along the Florida-Alabama line to the Gulf of Mexico.”

“The state forest is a significant piece of the largest, continuous longleaf pine/wiregrass forest complex in the world. Once blanketing the entire southeastern United States, only 3 percent of that vast forest survives today.

For more:  see http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates.

Blackberries for Birds, Animals and Us, Tate’s Hell

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What blooms  bears fruit and Tate’s Hell State Forest has food for birds, deer, turkey, water fowl, insects, fish and humans. This year the wild muscadines were in full fruit, blackberries and blueberries for eating out of hand with enough left for the animals. If you ever want to see these working creatures all on their separate daily missions, but complementing and benefitting each other, even as they are prey and predator — come spend some quiet, observing time in Tate’s Hell.