Full List of Featured Photos

Previous Features, Page


These large light colored glaucous gulls are occasional on the winter beaches of Florida, as are the slightly smaller, dark herring gulls seen here with the small year-round resident laughing gulls.

The summer breeding area of glaucous gulls is the high arctic areas of Canada and Alaska. They tend to stay farther north in the winter than other gulls, with the primary wintering area extending south along the coasts to Virginia and California, plus the Great Lakes. Those wintering farther south tend to be first or second year gulls.
Larus hyperboreus is our second largest North American gull - with large black-backed gulls being the largest - adults are 68 cm (27 in.) in length with a wingspan of 1.5 m (59 in.). Having pale legs at all ages, adults have a yellowish bill with red on the lower mandible near the tip. Younger gulls have paler bills with black near the tips. Adult plumage is mostly white, with a light gray back and light streaking on the head. The first two years glaucous gulls are white with various degrees of pale brown mottling. Eyes are dark the first year, paler in second year gulls.


A frequent herbaceous perennial of wet flatwoods and bogs throughout much of Florida.

Also called pineland daisy, these wildflowers range through the coastal plain from Texas to North Carolina.
Flowers are solitary on leafless, hairy stalks to 30 cm (12 in.) tall, mostly blooming during the first half of the year. The flowers are made up of many white 3-toothed ray florets and creamy white disks. Chaptalia tomentosa has basal elliptic to oblanceolate leaves up to 3.2 cm (1-1/4 in.) wide and 10 cm (4 in.) long. These leaves are dark green above and woolly white underneath with prominently winged petioles.
Of the five North American Chaptalia species, only one other is found in Florida, C. albicans. White sunbonnets only occur in Florida in the pine rocklands of Miami-Dade County and are the only sunbonnets in Everglades National Park. Their range also includes Puerto Rico. Two other species are found in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and the remaining species, Chaptalia texana, occurs in Texas and New Mexico.


Once a rare bird for Florida, since the 1970's these large gulls have become more frequent winter visitors to the Sunshine State coasts.

Population and behavior changes for many species, as in this case for the black-backed gulls, are often reflected in data collected by volunteers in annual bird counts. The 110th Christmas Bird Count was conducted across North America between Dec 14, 2009 and Jan 5, 2010.
The predominant winter range includes the Great Lakes and the mid-Atlantic states. Summer breeding occurs in extreme north Quebec, coastal Newfoundland (formerly Labrador) and Newfoundland Island. Great black-backed gulls are present year-round along the St. Lawrence seaway, Nova Scotia and coastal northeastern United States.
Larus marinus is the largest gull in the world, adults have pure white underparts and the back and wings are slate to sooty black. The thick yellow bill has a red spot on the lower mandible and the legs are pale pink. It takes four years for these gulls to reach adult plumage.


A frequent plant of hammocks, shellmounds and disturbed sites in mostly coastal counties of central and south Florida including the keys.

The range of scorpionstail includes Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, plus tropical America.
A woody shrub growing to over a meter (~3 ft.) tall with tiny white flowers growing in two ranks on curved, terminal spikes becoming 4-6 cm (1.6 - 2.4 in.) long. The corolla tube is 1 - 1.5 mm long, the inside has a yellowish eye, and the five lobes with crinkled margins grow to typically 3 mm (1/8 in.) across. The calyx is united only at the base, with 1.5 - 2 mm long trianglular, sparesly pubescent lobes. The leaves of Heliotropium angiospermum are lanceolate and entire, 2.5 - 15.25 cm (1-6 in.) long and 1.3 - 5 cm (1/2 - 2 in.) wide, with petioles over 2 mm (~ 1/16 in.) long. The stems and leaves are hirsute to strigose.


The morning mist above the prairie with pine trees silhouetted in pre-dawn light.

I was backpacking with friends along the Florida Trail in Myakka River State Park when I took this photo. Our campsite was in an oak hammock surrounded by prairie. The call of sandhill cranes woke me up, and I quickly pulled on some clothes and grabbed my camera. I reached the edge of the hammock just as I saw the last of the cranes flying off in the distance. Although I missed the cranes, I did have this beautiful view of the prairie.


A rare wildflower of seepage slopes, stream banks and floodplain forests of the central panhandle and Walton County.

The range extends though the southeast west into Alabama and north into Tennessee and Virginia.
The lavender zygomorphic flowers are two lipped. The upper lip is split longitudinally with the tips erect. The lower lip is three-lobed with a pale or white center. The flowers of many Lobelias are dichogamous, meaning that they go through sex phases to prevent self-polination. These flowers have stamens fused into a cylinder that matures first and pushes the pollen out to land on visiting insects. Then the flower enters the female phase with the style developing and extending out of the tube formed by the stamens and tipped with a two-lobed stigma. This sequence is illustrated in this week's featured photo, where the upper flower is in the male phase, and the lower flower in the female.
Stem leaves are elliptic to ovate or oblanceolate, over 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide and usualy more than 3 cm (1.2 in.) long. The stem and leaves are glabrous, or with only a few inconspicuous trichomes. The caylx lobes are small, narrow and extending out away from the base of the corolla. In this, the amoena variety of this species, the margins are entire. The glandulifera variety has glands along the margins of the calyx lobes.