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YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON

This yellow-crowned night heron was strolling through the dunes in Ormond by the Sea looking for ghost crabs. These birds are mostly nocturnal feeders, but they can sometimes be seen in the mornings or before dusk searching for their favorite meal of crabs or crayfish.

Nyctanassa violacea - YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON

These wading birds are found throughout Florida and along the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico year round. Nyctanassa violacea range in wetlands throughout the southeastern United States in the spring and summer breeding season, occasionally north to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. They are more likely to be found along the coast than black-crowned night herons, which are more likely inland.
A medium-sized stocky heron 55-70 cm (22-28 in.) long with a gray body and yellow legs. The bill and face are black, with white cheeks and a yellowish crown stripe. Immature Nyctanassa violacea are brown with tiny white spots on the wings and narrow indistinct streaks on the underside. The black bill helps differentiate these young birds from immature black-crowned night herons, which have yellow in their bill.

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OSCEOLA'S PLUME

These flowers of Osceola's plume were photographed after a recent fire in Tate's Hell State Forest. This species is also called crowpoison and pinebarrens deathcamus. Osceola was a Seminole leader of the early 1800's and a pivotal figure in the Second Seminole Indian War in Florida.

Stenanthium densum - OSCEOLA'S PLUME

A common wildflower of wet flatwoods, bogs and savannas in much of Florida north of Lake Okeechobee, although absent from the Big Bend area. The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from Texas to Virginia, plus Tennessee.
Osceola's plume is perennial, growing to 1m (3 ft.) tall or more. The prominent leaves are basal and grasslike, while the few alternate stem leaves are greatly reduced on glabrous stalks. The small flowers have 6 white to pinkish tepals and 6 stamens. The flowers are grouped in terminal, elongated and often tapering clusters, creating the 'plume' of one of the common names. The plants are also called crowpoison, due to their poisonous nature.
Stenanthium densum was previously classified as Zigadenus densus in the deathcamas genus and the lily family.

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PINEWOODS MILKWEED

These pinewoods milkweed flowers were photographed in Tiger Bay State Forest. This species is also called sandhill milkweed, purple milkweed, pink-veined milkweed and creeping milkweed.

Asclepias humistrata - PINEWOODS MILKWEED

A frequent wildflower of sandhills and scrub throughout most of the panhandle plus the north and central peninsula. The range includes the southeastern coastal states from Louisiana into North Carolina. Asclepias humistrata has smooth stems to 1m (~3 ft.) long which may be prostrate or erect. The dull-green leaves are opposite, sessile and clasping with prominent veins. The five-lobed flowers are typically pink to lavender and are in terminal clusters.

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COMMON GREEN DARNER

This dragonfly was one of two common green darners that flew into the yard as I was loading our canoe on the car years ago. I call this image "Dragonfly Bull's-eye".

Anax junius - COMMON GREEN DARNER

The darners have eyes that touch and often perch hanging vertically. The common green darner can most easily be identified by the green thorax and face with a target-like pattern on the head (above the face in front of the eyes). Mature males have a blue to purplish abdomen, which are rusty brown to purple in females. The immature dragonflies have red abdomens, and can look similar to a comet darner, except for the bull's-eye mark, which is absent in the comet darners. Anax junius are from 2-2/3 to 3-1/8 inches long with a wingspan around four inches.
Common green darners can be found almost anywhere in Florida but are more frequent near ponds, swamps and marshes, both freshwater and slightly brackish. They range throughout the United States north into Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and south into Central America to Costa Rica.

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MEXICAN PRICKLYPOPPY

This is one of the wildflowers that I photographed while bicycling through the Mayabeque Province of Cuba in February. It was growing alongside sticky nightshade at a scenic overlook.

Argemone mexicana - MEXICAN PRICKLYPOPPY

Mexican pricklypoppy is a frequent wildflower of open, disturbed sites in much of the Florida peninsula and scattered panhandle locations. The range extends through much of the eastern United States, west into Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, north to Iowa, Michigan, and northeast into New York, Vermont & Massachusetts. Also called yellow pricklypoppy, it can be found throughout the West Indies, Mexico and Central America. It is an introduced species in Ontario and Manitoba and many other parts of the world.
The large yellow flowers and spiny-looking leaves are distinctive on this annual that often branches from the base. The leaves are deeply and sharply lobed. Flowers are 4-7cm (1-1/2 to 2-3/4 in.) across with yellow petals and 30 to 50 yellow filaments.
Some of my other photographs from Cuba can be found in the Paul Rebmann Nature Photography Cuba gallery at paul-rebmann.pixels.com.