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YELLOW FRINGED ORCHID

A frequent terrestrial orchid of pine flatwoods, open, wet meadows, roadside ditches, seeps and bogs throughout much of central and north Florida.

Yellow fringed orchid ranges throughout the eastern United States, extending west into Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Michigan, plus Ontario.
Platanthera ciliaris grows to over a meter tall with 30 to 75 yellow to orange flowers in a showy terminal raceme. The flowers have deeply fringed lips and a long spur, about the length of the pedicel. Leaves are cauline and lanceolate, from 5-30 cm (2-12 in.) long and 1-5 cm (3/8-2 in.) wide.
Platanthera species are distinguished from the genus Habenaria by the lack of basal leaves. Several species of Platanthera having small tubercles on either side of the column have recently been reclassified to the genus Gymnadeniopis.
The butterfly in this photograph is a cloudless sulphur and the buds on the hairy stems are rayless sunflowers.



SANDHILL CRANE

A large bird of open grasslands, meadows and wetlands, can sometimes be seen in residential areas and roadsides.

Two subspecies of sandhill cranes can be found in Florida. A population of about four to five thousand non-migratory Grus canadensis - subspecies pratensis - live year round in Florida and south Georgia. These Florida sandhill cranes are state listed as threatened. A larger population of greater sandhill cranes spends winters in Florida and summers in the Great Lakes region. The two subspecies are indistinguishable from each other.
Sandhill cranes have gray bodies, red foreheads and white cheeks. They are up to 120cm (~4 ft.) tall with a wingspan of 200 cm (~ 6-1/2 ft.). Males and females are similar to each other, with the males being slightly larger. Mated pairs remain together year-round.
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PALE MEADOW BEAUTY

A common plant of flatwoods, bogs and marshes throughout most of Florida, except for the southernmost peninsula.

The range extends from Texas to Michigan through much of the eastern United States north to New York and Massachusetts.
The four petals that vary in color from pale purple to white easily fall off - especially in the afternoon. Pale meadow beauty has eight curved stamens with yellow anthers over 5mm long. The opposite leaves are three-viened, hairy and have finely toothed margins.



ROSEATE SPOONBILL

This distinctive bird is a resident of Florida, breeding from the Keys north to Tampa Bay and dispersing along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts from July through October.

They are found in coastal flats, lagoons and marshes, rarely inland, and they often nest in colonies with herons. A large wader, nearly a meter in length with a wingspan of 1.3 m., roseate spoonbills have a mostly pink body, white on the back and neck, with a bare head. The spatulate bill of Platalea ajaja is swept back and forth through the water and mud feeling for aquatic invertebrates.
Nearly wiped out by the plume hunters of the late 1800's and early 1900's, roseate spoonbill populations have significantly recovered but they are still listed as a Florida Species of Special Concern. The primary threat now is habitat degradation and reduction due to development and changes in the natural hydrology of Florida, especially the Everglades. In recent years these birds have been seen in greater numbers in areas of Florida outside of their traditional range. Audubon of Florida is conducting a survey of these birds. If you spot a roseate spoonbill with leg bands, you are encouraged to report the sighting. Instructions and an online form can be found at audubonofflorida.org.
Photography Prints by Paul Rebmann



CORKYSTEM PASSIONFLOWER

A vine mainly of hammocks and shell middens throughout many of the coastal counties of the Florida peninsula, also rockland pinelands of south Florida plus hammocks and pinelands of Lake and Polk Counties.

The range includes the West Indies and extends from Cameron County (Brownsville), Texas through Mexico, Central and South America to Paraguay. Corkystem passionflower is an invasive plant of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
A small perennial vine with highly variable leaves in both size and shape. The leaves are alternate, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, and may be linear, lanceolate, or trilobed, any or all shapes appearing on the same vine at various times. Passiflora suberosa has two conspicuous red glands on the petiole and tendrils opposite the leaves that are used for climbing. The greenish white flowers are only about 2 cm (~ 3/4") wide with the ovary borne on a gynophore. Petals are lacking, five petal-like sepals are often nearly white. Corkystems in Florida typically have a purple inner coronal fringe and a yellow outer fringe, but the flowers on this species can also be quite variable. The fruit is a dark purple nearly round berry about 1 cm (~ 3/8") in diameter.
The variable leaves are believed by many lepidopterists to be a defense mechanism against caterpillar attack by making itself unrecognizable to predators, especially during early stages of the plant's life cycle. Corkystem passionflower is the larval host plant for the longwing butterflies: gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), julia (Dryas iulia) and zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius).



Tropical Storm Fay

Black and white photograph of the surf during high tide as tropical storm Fay approaches from the south.

Tropical storm Fay initially made Florida landfall in the southwestern part of the state, intensifying as it crossed the peninsula in a northeasterly direction to slowly exit into the Atlantic near Cape Canaveral. Once in the Atlantic, Fay slowly drifted northward, with the center just offshore before making a second Florida landfall just north of this photo location.