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PELICAN IN SEA SMOKE

A pelican gliding just above the breaking wave is backlit by the early morning sun shining through the rising sea smoke.

Pelican in Sea Smoke

Occasionally weather conditions are such along the coast that a phenomenon called 'sea smoke' occurs. This is a mist that rises off the water, usually when the air is very cold and the water is much warmer. These photos were taken on an early January morning when the dew point was about 32 degrees (F), the air temperature was only a degree or two above that, the water temperature was about 60 degrees and the winds were calm.
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FRINGED CATCHFLY

A close up image of the endangered wildflower Eastern Fringed Catchfly, also called Fringed Pink.

Fringed Catchfly - Silene catesbaei

This distinctive little flower occurs in the Florida panhandle near the upper Apalachicola River and Lake Seminole. Silene catesbaei is also found in the Flint and Ocmulgee River drainages in the lower Piedmont Plateau of west-central Georgia and extreme southwestern Georgia near Lake Seminole. The habitat is usually mid to lower areas of hardwood slope forests and stream terraces.
Eastern fringed catchfly is a perennial herb that spreads by runners rooting at nodes, with only the flowering stems held erect. The five deeply fringed petals are bright pink when fresh, sometimes fading to a lighter shade. When not in bloom, eastern fringed catchfly can be identified by the hairy winged leafstalks.
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TREE OF BIRD LIFE

Tree of Bird Life

A tree in the natural rookery area in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm full of nesting wood storks, great egrets and cattle egrets.
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SLENDER BLAZING STAR

Light from the setting sun shining through the wings of bees visiting the flowers of slender blazing star in Hillsborough River State Park.

Blazing Star and Bees - Liatris gracilis - Slender Blazing-star

There are 16 species of Liatris in Florida, two of these species have two subspecies each, and all of these are native to the state.
Slender blazing-star is also known as slender gayfeather and is a common wildflower of sandhills and flatwoods throughout almost all of Florida. The range includes the southeastern coastal states from Mississippi to South Carolina.
The stems of slender gayfeather are hairy, with alternate leaves, up to three feet tall and terminated in spikelike racemes of purple florets. The pedicels are hairy. The upper leaves are numerous, linear and sessile and the lower leaves are spatulate and stalked with ciliated bases.
Blazing Star and Bees by Paul Rebmann Slender Gayfeather by Paul Rebmann



LAKE DISSTON CYPRESS

A lone cypress tree out away from shore and a single bird flying over Lake Disston.

Lake Disston Cypress #2

Lake Disston is a shallow lake averaging eight to ten feet in depth and covering 1844 acres in Flagler County Florida. This lake is drained by Little Haw Creek, which flows into Crescent Lake which then flows through Dunns Creek to the St. Johns River.
A popular fishing spot, it is also an Audubon Important Bird Area and is a state designated Outstanding Florida Water. Cypress trees ring the lake, especially on one side where there is a major bird rookery for wood storks, ibis, and egrets. The lake is an important osprey nesting habitat and is used by swallow-tailed kites when they are in Florida.
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BLACK SKIMMERS

An adult black skimmer and a 25 day old chick walking on the World's Most Famous Beach. This image was made the same day as the award-winning photograph titled Homer and Bart and features the same chick. I am not sure if this is the same adult skimmer or the other parent.

Rynchops niger - BLACK SKIMMER

Black skimmers are the only North American bird with a lower mandible longer than the upper. Primarily found in coastal areas of Central and North America, as far north as the Salton Sea near San Diego on the west coast and Massachusetts on the east coast in the summer. They occur through much of South America except in the Andes range and most of the North American breeding occurs along the gulf coast.
Black skimmers are easily identified by the distinctive beak, plus they are white underneath and dark on top. The black crown continues down the back of the neck when in breeding plumage (Mar.-Sep.), and they have a white color during the non-breeding season (Sep.-Mar.).
These birds are graceful flyers with wingbeats mostly above the body with the head held lower than the tail. Skimmers glide just above the water with the lower mandible dipped in the water. When the skimmer encounters a fish, the bird tucks the head down to grab it. They often rest on the ground completely prone with the head stretched forward.
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