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GREAT BLUE HERON Eats GREEN WATER SNAKE

A great blue heron caught and swallowed a Florida green water snake along the La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.

Ardea herodias - GREAT BLUE HERON eats Nerodia floridana - FLORIDA GREEN WATER SNAKE

This took a while, with the heron dropping the snake in the water at one point before retrieving it.
To see the timeline of these images, go to Great Blue Heron Eats Green Water Snake in Other Photos
Great blues are the largest of our herons, and Florida green water snakes are among the more abundant water snakes in the state.
La Chua Trail is on the north side of Paynes Prairie. Access to this trail is off of SE 15th St. in Gainesville, separate from the main section of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park



WICKY

I spotted this species for the first time on a late December hike on a trail through flatwoods in the panhandle near the Gulf coast. If not for the solitary out of season flower, I would have walked right past without noticing this unassuming plant, as I have undoubtedly done before.

Kalmia hirsuta - WICKY

A frequent small shrub of flatwoods, scrub and coastal swales in the panhandle and northern Florida, south into Lake and Hernando Counties. The range includes Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Wicky typically blooms from spring to early fall either solitary or in clusters of two to three flowers that are more often pink, but sometimes white. The five petals are fused into a cup shape with 10 stamens initially held under tension with the anthers tucked into small - sometimes reddish - pockets that form a circle in the bottom of the cup. When a pollinator lands on the flower, the spring-loaded stamens are released spreading pollen onto the insect. The very small leaves are simple and entire, alternate, elliptic, oval or oblanceolate, with tiny hairs. The fruit is a rounded capsule about 1/8 inch or less in diameter.
Kalmia hirsuta is also called hairy laurel or sandhill laurel. It is differentiated from mountain laurel (K. latifolia) by the hairy leaves and short stature of wicky, which is usually less than two feet, but sometimes just over three feet tall.



Kayak and Tent on Perdido Key

This image is featured to celebrate being out in nature. Here is hoping that all of the Wild Florida Photo website visitors were able to enjoy nature in their own way during the past year, and will do so even more in 2013.

Perdido Key kayak camp

Shown is a kayak and tent in the primitive camp near Spanish Point on the east end of Perdido Key in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This was the first night of a six-day trip on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. Paul Rebmann and Daniel Reed kayaked 62 miles from Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola to Henderson Beach State Park near Destin in mid-December 2012. The entire paddling trail is 1515 miles long and goes from Pensacola to Fort Clinch State Park.
Purchase Perdido Key Kayak Camp by Paul Rebmann



BLUE WINGED TEAL

Blue-winged teal are common winter visitors to Florida. These are long-distance migrants, with some birds traveling as far as South America, so they are often among the earliest waterfowl to arrive each year.

Anas discors - BLUE WINGED TEAL

These small ducks are often seen in pairs and small groups on the calm water of marshes and small lakes dabbling and end-up feeding in the shallow and vegetated areas.
Males are in breeding plumage from November through June exhibiting brown bodies, dark back and tail, specked on the sides and breast. The slaty-blue head has a white crescent behind the bill and anther white patch on the sides just in front of the tail. Non-breeding males and females are brown-grey mottled with a fainter, incomplete white crescent barely visible behind the bill. Both sexes show a powder-blue patch on the upper wing coverts in flight.



INNOCENCE

This little wildflower was seen from the nature trail at Little Talbot Island State Park.

Houstonia procumbens - INNOCENCE

A common perennial of sandhills, dunes, flatwoods, hammocks and disturbed sites throughout most of Florida. The range extends through the southeastern coastal plain from Louisiana into South Carolina.
The tiny white four-petaled flowers are solitary on erect pedicels. Four small calyx lobes are at the base of and much shorter than the corolla tube. Also called roundleaf bluets, they have oval to nearly round opposite leaves on prostate stems.



RED SHOULDERED HAWK

Red shouldered hawks are resident throughout Florida and range throughout the central and eastern United States and west of the Sierra Nevada in California.

Buteo lineatus - RED SHOULDERED HAWK

They are year-round residents in most of their range, but there is also a population that breeds around the Great Lakes and the northeast United States and the adjacent areas of Canada and then migrates to Mexico for the winter.
Smaller than red-tailed hawks, Buteo lineatus is usually found in or near wet woodlands hunting mainly mammals, some reptiles and amphibians - typically by dropping on the prey from perches. Females are typically larger than males. They are one of the most vocal hawks in North America.
There are five subspecies of B. lineatus. The two found in Florida are paler than the others, with the hawks in south Florida being the palest. The California population is a separate subspecies from the four eastern forms.