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OSPREY

Osprey arriving with nest-building materials with another osprey perched on branch.

This year-round resident of Florida is most common along coastal waterways.
There are four species of osprey worldwide. Pandion haliaetus carolinensis can be found in the Americas with some populations resident, as is common in Florida, and others migrating between North and South America and the Caribbean. Non-migratory populations begin breeding between December and March. Migratory populations typically begin breeding from April to May. A non-migratory subspecies P. h. ridgwayi is found in the Caribbean from the Bahamas and Cuba to southeastern Mexico and Belize and has distictive plumage, with the head marking being very pale or non-existent. The subspecies haliaetus is found in Europe, Africa, and Asia north of the Himalayas, while the range of leucocephalus includes Australia and the southwest Pacific.
Ospreys average 23 inches (~58 cm) long with a wingspan of 5' 3" (160 cm). They have dark backs, white undersides and white head with a black stripe through the eye to the back of the neck. Females are typicaly the same length as males, but with greater body mass and wingspans.
Purchase Ospreys and Nest by Paul Rebmann



PIGMYPIPES

A rare plant of mesic hammocks on both coasts of north-central Florida.

Recorded in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, St. Johns and recently(in 2008) Volusia County. The range extends through the eastern United States south of the Mason-Dixon line and west into Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.
Differentiated from the genus Monotropa by having petals that are united over half their length. They lack chlorophyll and only appear above ground when flowering on fleshy shoots with reduced scale-like leaves.
This family of plants, sometimes listed as a subfamily of the Ericaceae, are myco-heterotropic - utilizing a fungal intermediate to obtain nutrients from photosynthetic plants.



SIXSPOTTED FISHING SPIDER

Fishing spiders live on and near the water, often found on floating vegetation as seen here, giving them another common name - raft spiders.

They have the ability to walk on the surface of the water, and can submerge if threatened.
Found throughout much of North America, from southern Alaska, through Canada to Maine, and south to Mexico and Cuba.
The namesake six spots are on the lower side of the abdomen. Females are larger, up to 2 cm (~ 3/4 in.) in length, than the males and often carry the egg sack with them. Color varies from dark olive-green to the more typical brown or tan with a white stripe along each side and white spots on the top of the abdomen.



CORALBEAN

A frequent shrub mainly of hammocks and found throughout much of Florida.

The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from Texas to North Carolina and also Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The showy red flowers appear in tall terminal racemes from winter through summer, often before or just as the distinctive leaves emerge. Later in the year, the namesake poisonous red seeds develop in a loment that splits open when it matures. The alternate, compound, trifoliolate leaves are made up of trianglular leaflets that are somewhat three-lobed.
Of the dozen species of Erythrina found in the United States, this is the only one occurring in Florida. At one time it was proposed that the larger, more treelike specimens found in south Florida were a separate species - E. arborea - but recent treatments consider them all E. herbacea.



RED KNOT

Red knots are found on beaches and tidal flats of Florida during migration and through the winter.

These birds make one of the longest migrations of any bird, traveling from breeding grounds in the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America.
The largest of the peeps at 23-25 cm (9-10 in.) in length with a wingspan of 52-56 cm (20-22 in.), red knots have a relatively short, straight black bill and dull yellowish-olive legs, lighter in juveniles and darker in adults. Basic winter plumage consists of shades of gray. Breeding plumage exhibits red on the head, neck and breast plus a darker gray (than in winter) back with rust-colored spots.
Large numbers of Calidris canutus visit Delaware Bay between Delaware and New Jersey during the migration south to feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs. Recent (since the early 1990's) commercial harvesting of horseshoe crabs has reduced populations, seriously threatening the future of red knots.



MAMMATUS CLOUDS - YELLOW SKY

On October 9, 2008 a group of severe thunderstorms, some of which contained tornadoes, moved through Volusia County Florida.

At 5 pm the sky was as dark as in the middle of a moonless, cloudy night. About an hour after the storms passed through, the sky took on an eerie yellow cast that was even noticeable indoors. I went outside and saw these unusual cloud formations that I later learned are called mammatus clouds.
Mammatus clouds often form before or after intense thunderstorm and/or tornado activity. The name is derived from the Latin word for breast - mamma.
Purchase Mammatus Clouds by Paul Rebmann