I did a little messing around with it at home once it arrived, but yesterday – Easter Sunday – was my first foray into the world to give it a test drive. The primary reason I wanted 50x zoom is because I get frustrated with not being able to get close enough to wildlife to take a decent shot. It always astounds me that even with the near-sightedness of middle age, my eyes sometimes see more than my camera can. On the flip side of that, there are some particular wildlife specimens to which it is quite inadvisable to get too close. Therefore, a healthy amount of zoom is in order.
I have much to learn about this camera! Without further ado, here are some of the inaugural shots, taken at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, aka “my cathedral”. Let me know what you think! There will be more posted to my Facebook page.
I was surprised to find out that there is more than one green anole; I’d thought the green one was the American native (Anolis carolensis) and the not-green are invaders. I have since discovered that there is a Cuban green anole (A. porcatus), and that it has blue stripes or specks, like this one (see the area of his shoulder). So maybe this isn’t Anolis carolensis, and it’s actually a Cuban.
A little blue heron hangs out on the “barge” in the middle of Gator Lake. There were also a number of turtles parked on the platforms, sunning themselves.
I don’t really see the blue stripe phenomenon going on here, so my guess is that this anole is a native Floridian.
Up until now, we’ve been looking at zoomed photos. This one was taken as a macro. The macro button is in a different spot than it was on my previous Canon camera, but I finally found it! Oddly, the legs are looking really good, but the body is a bit vague… possibly because it is shiny? The spider was really delicate but patiently waited for me to get my shot. I thanked her profusely 😉
From death springs life; the swamp is really cool that way 🙂
In addition to heat-seeking anoles, there were quite a few gators sunning themselves, too. In this particular pond were three 1 – 1.5 footers, like this one. Of the other two, one was sleeping and the other was quite actively swimming around. This time of year, the livin’ is easy, what with the water levels lower and the ponds shrinking into concentrated pools of food. No wonder they are all tuckered out by afternoon!
I took lots of pictures of this little green heron. He was quite accommodating. Want to know what he was looking at?
There was another little green heron resting in the shade on the far left of the pond.
LOVE this shot – this gator, about a 5-footer, looks so smugly satisfied and comfy in his napping spot in the sun. The arc of his reflection is kind of neat, too.
A bit dark and not the best, but this shot of the pileated woodpecker at work would not have been possible with my old camera. He was simply too far away to capture without massive zoom. According to something the instructor said in a photography class I took last month, I might actually have been able to help this shot along with a long-distance flash.
What a beautiful time of year it is to live in Southwest Florida!
The summer can be unforgiving – the heat and humidity are relentless, the rain is capricious, and there is always the threat of a hurricane or two hanging over our collective heads.
However, as October melts into November, a kinder, gentler Southwest Florida emerges. Blue skies and refreshing breezes reign in the late autumn and early winter days. It’s a little cooler, a little drier, and much more enjoyable. It’s time to take it outside in Southwest Florida – let’s go!
I got a call earlier in the week from friends who were going to take a boat out of Fort Myers Beach, and did I want to come along? You bet I did! We did a leisurely tour through Matanzas Pass and Ostego Bay, then emerged into the Gulf via Big Carlos Pass, near Lovers Key. That’s the bridge over Big Carlos, behind us (above).
We decided to head for Nervous Nellie’s in Fort Myers Beach after our excursion. The town is all done up for Christmas. As a native New Yorker, it still gives me the giggles to see Christmas decorations juxtaposed against palm trees and blue skies.
Here I am, enjoying royal status for about three minutes – Princess Without A Country 😉 You will find this over-sized bench with the cutout near the gazebo beside Nervous Nellie’s, should you have a princess you’d like to photograph.
At Moss Marine, I saw this egret standing on a post and took aim with the camera. I saw the pelican come in for a landing behind him, but did not see the little shore bird on the post in front of him until I got the picture up on the computer screen later on.
A closer look at the egret – handsome fellow, isn’t he?
The sun was setting as I crossed back over Matanzas Pass and made my way toward Summerlin. I decided to take a side trip before heading back to Lehigh, and made my way to Bunche Beach Preserve, where I saw this little blue heron hunting for his supper.
The little blue wasn’t the only one looking for dinner – pelicans and an egret hunted as well. A misty glow enveloped the Sanibel Causeway in the distance – one of those scenes that makes your heart go “ahhh!”
The sky is streaked in Creamsicle shades as the sun descends upon Sanibel’s east end.
A side trip to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve the next day yielded the delight of finding a cute little two-foot gator sunning himself in the vegetation along the banks of the gator lake. He would not be the last gator I would see this week!
Saturday found me at the C.R.E.W. Bird Rookery Swamp, where I would participate in a geocaching event. It was a glorious day to be tramping around in the cypress swamp’s wide trails. Here’s a balsam pear we found growing wild alongside the path. It’s a relative of the cucumber.
I haven’t identified this moth yet, but I liked the angle of his upper wings against the lower “tail” part of his flying apparatus.
It’s that time of year, when the beautiful but destructive lubbers turn into lovers. These grasshoppers go through several colorful stages before they reach the cooked-lobster hue you see here.
See? Told ya there would be another gator! Actually, there were two, on opposing sides of the path, but the other one was a bit too far away to get a decent shot. I’d say they were about 4 feet or so. We observed them for a while and when we were ready to move on, they quite agreeably slunk into the swamp and let us pass unmolested.
So that was my post-Thanksgiving week. How was yours?
The weather has definitely broken into fall here in Southwest Florida, and that means the delight of being able to exert one’s self outdoors without risking heat stroke and/or coming home dripping wet.
This is an awesome time of year for hiking and exploring in Florida’s parks and preserves. One of my favorites, in part because it is so close to where I live, is Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers. The slough is a sacred place, where water moves at a snail’s pace and all manner of flora and fauna grow and thrive. I see something new every time I go there. It never gets old.
Due to the heavy concentration of cypress trees in the Slough, it’s a great place to witness the colors of autumn. Yes, you heard me. Bet you didn’t know that the trees change color and shed their leaves even here in Florida. Well, it’s true! I’ll show you. Ready for a walk? Let’s go!
Let’s play a game. Can you “Spot The Gator”? He was about a four-footer, just catching some sun in the shallows right alongside the boardwalk. Some little kids came by and I put my finger to my lips. They froze and conspired with me, silently tip-toeing over to see what I was pointing at. How excited they were to see their first gator, so close!
I took my leave of the children and soon came to my favorite place to “sit down in the woods and wait”. As many times as I’ve sat here before, I never noticed this…
See that skinny little tree over there? It’s holding on to the handrail!
Or maybe it has grown a tongue, which now laps at the boardwalk. How odd and beautiful it is, all at once.
I then noticed something else about the little tree – it seems to be growing out of another tree, of a different species!
See? The little tree is a cypress, and the “host” seems to be an oak of some sort.
Further along the boardwalk, I saw the situation in reverse – a slender oak is growing out of a cypress tree.
This cypress tree is very tall compared to the little oak.
In the autumn, when the leaves start to wither and die and fall away, a number of things change in the swamp. Leaves falling into the water decompose, turning the water a deep reddish brown with tannins. This decomposing matter settles around the roots of the trees, and makes a great growing medium for little acorns and seeds. This is why it looks like one species is “growing out of” the other – it isn’t really, it’s just using the growing medium trapped there against the mature tree. Another thing that happens is that more sunlight can penetrate the swamp forest. The middle story of the forest opens up too, after the vines start to wither and fall away. The result is a better-lit, cleared away space where one can see the hidden infrastructure of the swamp. I walk through here frequently, and never see so many windfalls as I do when I come through after the leaves have had a chance to fall and the vines have withered and died away.
There are a few red maple trees in the swamp, and they provide for a riot of red here and there. Here’s one along the boardwalk close to the amphitheater.
Here’s a young cypress just dripping in autumnal gold. See? Who says we don’t get fall colors down this way!
A few resistors struggle to maintain their greenery nearby. Who can say why some are so ready to shed, while others hold on to the bitter end?
There are two varieties of cypress here, and they are relatively easy to tell apart – I just keep forgetting which is which! I made sure to bring home photographs of both this time, so I’d be able to look them up and learn this once and for all. This is a pond cypress. The needles are close to the stem and sometimes give the impression of spiraling around it.
And this is a bald cypress. The leaves are flatly fanned out from the stem. There. Now you know the difference, too. 😉
Calusa Nature Center – perfect morning for a walk in the flatwoods and the swamp. It’s pretty close to where I live, and I had other errands to run this morning, so why not stop by instead of passing by? Plus, we have that extra hour in the morning now that we “fell back” on Sunday, and I was a bundle of energy because of that. Let’s go!
A couple of rehabilitating gators were sunning themselves near their watering hole.
The American beauty berry is in a full riot of fruit.
Parts of the swamp are already drying up and becoming lined with fallen leaves.
Dahoon holly trees are heavy with fruit in the cypress swamp and along the pine loop trail
Something has raked this tree. Gashes look too wide for it to be a bear or a bobcat. Not sure how this happened!
A closer look at the mystery gashes.
Still water in the cypress swamp, and since the berries are popping and the leaves are falling, there are lots of feeding little birdies visible and audible here.
A new little tree struggles to bring itself up beside the boardwalk. I predict a relocation of one or the other!
I have found a lot of things while out walking that other people lost. But I never thought someone could lose their face..
Cassia in bloom
Cabbage palm regeneraging – not sure if the folded-up-ness is normal, as I’ve never seen one do this before!
I learned a valuable lesson last Friday evening as I was crossing the Sanibel Causeway at sunset – a dirty windshield is far more visible when the glare of full sunlight is not present! I turned on the radio and got a funky blues pop tune, which seemed to match the mood of the sky. Enjoy 🙂
It’s Jacque’s birthday and we are Downtown Fort Myers for dinner. ZOMBICON is happening at Harborside Convention center and the streets are shut down – the better for the zombies to chase us through. Let’s go!
We are floating through the No-wake zone of the Pass. "Matanzas" allegedly means "murder"; this is the place where, according o legend, Ponce de Leon’s armor was fatally pierced by a Calusa spear. As legends go, it doesn’t get any better than that!
On Friday, I took a run out to Sanibel Island to celebrate my birthday. As I came through the toll, a really OLD song came on the radio, so I decided to “roll tape” for the perilous crossing. Join me for a ride in the “happy lane” 🙂
One of the great things about the Six Mile Cypress Slough in summer is the opportunity for reflection shots – the Florida sky is mirrored here in the Gator Lake. There’s a big turtle on the platform out there but I am not seeing any gators thus far. I do hear a woodpecker working away industriously at a tree nearby.
A fan of the Conservation 20/20 Facebook page was interested in water levels ’round these parts, so I hopped in the car and headed for my sanctuary, my cathedral, the Six Mile Cypress Slough in Fort Myers. Yep, there’s water! Let’s go further in and see what’s up…
The blog has been quiet, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been languishing – far from it! Most people think this part of the country is a paradise only in the winter, a respite from the frozen north. Well, that may be true, and it may also be true that while the rest of the world comes out of the house and comes alive in the summer, we tend to go inside to the blessed relief of central air conditioning.
Despite the heat, there are still things to do, places to go, and people to see in the summertime in Southwest Florida. My month started out a little slow, after all the June excitement with Tropical Storm Debby and the treasures brought to the beach by that natural phenomenon – but I’m happy to report it rapidly picked up speed and I’ve had a blast this summer so far 🙂 Are you ready to see what I’ve been up to? C’mon – let’s go!
JULY 5TH: The Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida has been on my bucket list for a while. My visit coincided with a special exhibit featuring comic strips and cartoonists who were prominent during the era of Nazi Germany. Both Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney are featured, among others.
I wasn’t happy with my visit. I was VERY interested in the special exhibit, as you can imagine – I am, after all, a huge Disney fan. Disney’s war propaganda cartoons were being shown in one room, but I was told that a really great docent was about to lead a tour, and the sound on the television was turned off, probably in deference to this tour, so I joined them. Little did I know that this tour would involve the docent delivering a lecture that went on for an hour and did not show signs of stopping; there were some chairs, but most people were left standing. I wandered away and after a quick turn through the rest of the museum, I made my escape. Wish I had better things to say about this experience.
JULY 6TH: Art Walk in the Fort Myers River District! I began the evening at Ford’s Garage, rendezvous point with friends Charlene and Eric Taubert. Ford’s is one of those places with lots of different beers and ales to try, and if you have dinner there during Art Walk, you can have free valet parking that night. The place was VERY crowded, and it took a long time to get seated. After a good dinner and lively conversation, we took to the streets of the recently revitalized downtown area of Fort Myers to see some art.
A friend pointed out that the buildings themselves in downtown Fort Myers qualify as art; everything has an art deco feel to it. Here’s the historic Edison Theater, which is no longer a theater but now serves as office space.
The Howl Gallery had a special exhibit – it was all Mickey Mouse, all the time in there! Check out the Howl’s current show page to see all the art. Above is my favorite, because he’s sort of emo and sweet ºoº
JULY 10TH: Freakish and violent weather is not unusual for Southwest Florida in the summertime, but this was scary-freakish. I walked out of the house one afternoon on a grocery mission and saw this in the northeastern sky. Looks like a tornado wanted to form, a little too close to home for comfort! My shopping expedition was in the precise opposite direction, and I hastened away. The house was still here when I got back, so I guess it was all good 😉
JULY 14TH: Out on the town with pal Michele Lorito-Chase. We saw a movie at the Bell Tower, had some dinner, and went for a drink at World of Beer.
The best part of going out for pizza: bringing some home for breakfast the next morning 😉
JULY 16TH: I’ve been volunteering as social media strategist for Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 organization, which acquires and maintains conservation preserves. I curate their Facebook page – drop by and “like” us! A new piece was added to the Alva Scrub Preserve, so I set out with a friend on a promotional photography mission….
Social butterfly that I was today, I left the Mashable meetup and made the perilous crossing over to Sanibel, where I met some friends for dinner at The Fish House. It used to be called McT’s and I had not been there since before the transformation. I went to the ladies room, and there was a martini on the wall
I decided to go back to the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach this afternoon, to see what I could see. Directly to the right of the fishing pier was a Sea of Stink – all the beached pen shells where heaped in a tidal pool, slowly dying. There were some pickin’s to be had in there, but the stench was nauseating, so I continued down the beach. A pair of young ladies, one of whom I’d seen engaged in the same activity yesterday, were on a mission to rescue all of the lightning whelks that were once again stuck in between the roots of the mangroves. They had one of those GIANT beach bags, bright pink, and they were filling it up and relocating the stranded souls to a tidal pool, closer to the surf.
Right smack dab in front of the lighthouse, I found this pair of monsters, all snuggled up together just below the surface of the sand. They were right under the breaker line, so I did not see them – I felt them through my shoes. I took my trusty net-on-a-stick and used the aluminum edge to pry them up. I was SHOCKED that they were empty. Hadn’t seen any empties of this size since Tropical Storm Debby dumped them all there.
I always wonder what makes a whelk change colors and patterns midstream in the making of the shell. Was it something she ate? Did the environment change? I have not come across any really good answers about this phenomenon.
After hunting a little longer in front of the lighthouse, and finding the tulips there, I walked back toward the pier. When I got close, I found this mac ‘n cheese (juvenile horse conch), and it made me smile. It’s a good shelling day, whenever you find mac ‘n cheese. I found the rest of the whelks you see in the first picture in rapid succession after that, just to the right of the pier, in the breaker line. I was pretty happy with my treasures, and made my contented way home shortly thereafter.
I’ve got just a few more pictures to share from my afternoon foray onto the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach, plus some videos that are percolating on YouTube and should be ready shortly.
Here’s the parking lot again, the one closest to the fishing pier. Normally, there are abundant spaces in this lot, but today they are limited by the flood left behind by Tropical Storm Debby.
Chemicals called tannins are exuded from the roots of mangrove trees growing on the beach, which is what gives the water its reddish hue. I thought the reflection of the egret was pretty; wish I’d had something other than an iPhone in my hand, so I could have zoomed, but it is what it is! The reflection from the gnarled trees looks especially spooky in the red-tinged water.
I thought it curious that so many banded tulips were clustered around these two pen shells. It seems unlikely that they are preparing to feast. Banded tulips would typically go after much smaller fare. Curiouser and curiouser!
This trap, which washed up directly in front of the Lighthouse, didn’t appear to have snared anything before coming ashore.
Poor wee turtles! Storms are not good for turtle nests. They can change the temperature of the nest, causing the eggs to fail. Storms can compact the sand, making it impossible for hatchlings to dig their way out. They can also remove sand from the nest, exposing the eggs to the elements and to predators. It is not likely that a washed-over nest is viable any more.
Crossing the causeway, jamming out to No Doubt on the radio. SO, so happy that there’s sun!
A live horse conch rolls around in the surf. I estimate it was about 14″ long. Never get over the shock of what color they actually are, underneath the shell and the dark black periostracum that covers it.
I saved the best for last – unbelievable quantity of live shells in the tidal pool and well above it! I posted it to Facebook; should be visible to all https://www.facebook.com/MyMobileAdventures/posts/316120388480932?notif_t=like
Hoping to go back again on Thursday and maybe even on Friday, to see what happened to all the live ones – stay tuned!
Last week, an ecotour operator made the fatal mistake of enticing an alligator out of the water for the entertainment of the tourists. He lost his hand. The gator, quite unfairly, lost his life. There’s a reason for the law. These are not trained Disney critters. They are wild and real and you’re in their territory. Please keep your hands and feet – and FOOD – inside the vehicle at all times, and don’t mess with the critters. Thank you.
The Eco park includes nature tails but I decided not to brave them – I don’t like to hike an unfamiliar trail alone, plus I got bitten twice in the time it took to stand here and take his shot! I will come back when I’ve got a hiking partner and bug spray.
I had to lie on my back at the base of the monument to get this shot. I am grateful that I can still get up from such a position under my own steam! I am not sure why cape coral chose to replicate the statue, and I wonder if it is to scale…
Alongside the road that comes from the bridge, a veterans memorial stands. There’s a vast, shady pavilion, statuary, and you can make a donation to get a paving brick inscribe in memory of a soldier. The World Wars, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam are all represented, as well as more recent wars in the Middle East.
I was in Cape Coral this morning, working on a photo project with a fellow nature geek. On the way over the Midpoint Bridge from Fort Myers, I decided it was high time I’d visited an attraction I’ve passed a dozen times but never stopped. Let’s go!
Have Signal, Will Blog! Mobile/photo blogging the Florida lifestyle and vacations