Some mornings here in Florida the humidity is almost 100% and dew settles on everything outside, including spider webs. That makes the webs visible and shows the intricate weaving done by the spiders. This photo was taken at St. George Island State Park.
This has nothing to do with spiders, but I also walked the beach at St. George Island State Park and photographed this Ghost Crab. It is just at the edge of its hole, ready to disappear at the first sign of danger.
I also visited Ochlocknee State Park on a morning when dew made the spider webs visible. There, almost all the webs were shaped like this one. I seem to recall that Larry Weber, a Minnesota author, has recently written a book identifying spiders by their webs. Perhaps I can get a copy of that book and find out which spiders made each of these webs.
Diana and I visited St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida, last week. There is a pond within the park called Gator Lake. Alligators like to bask in the sun, but it was cloudy and cool the day we were there, so we didn’t see any gators. This island is in the middle of Gator Lake and there’s a small Great Blue Heron rookery on the island. Some of the herons and their nests can be seen among the trees on the island.
Here’s a close-up of one heron and its nest. You can see that the nest is a messy jumble of sticks woven together. The bird looks funny because it has its head tucked under its wing. I’m pretty sure it’s too early for eggs in the nest.
Across the road from Gator Lake there were some shallow ponds. This heron and deer were both feeding in the pond. I’m sure this is the first time I have taken a photo of a White-tailed Deer and a Great Blue Heron this close to each other.
Sanderlings are small (8 inch) shorebirds. They are the ones that look like little wind-up toys as they chase the waves breaking along the shoreline. This one caught something that will make a nice meal.
Last week I showed you photos of some western bird species from our trip to Oregon in October. I also found birds that we regularly see in Minnesota and here are some of those photos. Wild Turkeys are a familiar sight in Minnesota, even in urban areas. We saw a pair of Wild Turkeys in Bandon’s City Park.
On Park Hill Road, I saw two Ruffed Grouse foraging in someone’s driveway so I stopped to take photos. Grouse are funny. They think if they freeze and then move ever so slowly, you won’t detect them. This one was making its way to the edge of the road and I caught it in mid step.
I did take some bird photos when Diana and I visited the North Shore. I saw this Black-capped Chickadee along Park Hill Road, a short gravel road in Lake County. The colorful fall leaves made a nice background.
I don’t take many scenic photos but we recently took a trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior and it has so many beautiful areas I was inspired to take these shots. One of our first stops was at Gooseberry Falls State Park. The path we took from the parking lot to the Visitor Center was a different one than we’ve taken before. It gave us this view of the Gooseberry River flowing toward Lake Superior.
Toward the end of May, I drove to Sakatah State Park in southern Minnesota. A Worm-eating Warbler had been reported there, which would be a new life bird for me. I didn’t get to see the bird but I was intrigued by this flower. One of our friends told me she thought it was a wild onion. (The leaf at the bottom of the photo is from a different plant.)
Update: One of my readers wrote and told me this flower is a Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum).
Here’s another set of photos I took during our January - February stay in Florida. St. George Island State Park is a reliable place to see American Oystercatchers. This one flew by as I was walking along the beach one day.
Another hard-to-photograph species is the Belted Kingfisher. They seem to have a particularly strong aversion to being anywhere near a human. When I was at the Franklin County Seafood Landing Park in Apalachicola, Florida, I was fortunate to have this one fly by close enough to get a decent flight shot.
I like to visit the Franklin County Seafood Landing Park in Apalachicola, Florida. It has a viewing platform that extends over the water and provides great looks at the birds that fly by. I had a nice view of this Bald Eagle as it flew out over the water.
I heard from my Florida birding friends that the number of ducks wintering there was very low this year. That was certainly true when I visited Wakulla. I did see a few Hooded Mergansers; this is a female.
During our stay in Florida last winter, I made a visit to Wakulla Springs State Park which is south of Tallahassee. It was the middle of February and the Azalea bushes were in bloom. As a Minnesotan, I’m still amazed to see flowers outside in February.