Looking up

South Florida Sky

South Florida clouds


Another amazing South Florida sky ... no matter which way you look at it.


An afternoon at Flamingo Gardens

Mute Swan at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, FL


African Spurred Tortoises at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, FL


Black-Crowned Night Heron at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, FL


Some pics (a mute swan, a pair of African-spurred tortoises and a black-crowned night heron) from a few hours spent walking at Flamingo Gardens in Davie.


Happy cats in a tree

PBJ (at top) and Lil Red Buttons


The cats are so enjoying their new -- and their very first -- cat tree.

I've always hesitated to buy a cat tree because I've known cats to topple them over, and given the way Lil Red Buttons and her mom race around, I felt sure this would be a bad idea.

But then Lil Red was diagnosed with idiopathic cystitis, which can apparently be sparked by stress. While her life is not stressful, she's more anxious than most cats I know. She's very in tune with her surroundings ... and has a super-sharp sense of sight and hearing. While these qualities makes her a great hunter (if only in the house) they also seem to put her on edge sometimes. It's as if she hears things louder than the rest of us hear them, whether it's the crinkle of a plastic bag, ice being put in a cup or the much-dreaded sound of the vacuum cleaner in another room. She's also a worrier.

Her vet suggested some lifestyle changes that might help make her feel calmer. The recommendations included a special prescription diet, a Feliway diffuser and a cat tree. We've now successfully incorporated all of these things, though scoping out a topple-proof tree sturdy took time. (I'm a worrier, much like Ms. Buttons).

Lil Red's cystitis, which lasted three-four weeks (even with medications), has finally ceased and Lil Red's feeling much better and much calmer.  As you can see, she and PBJ are loving their new tree created by Molly and Friends.



Nature Moment: Turtles in Paradise



Watching turtles may be one of life's greatest stress relievers. Their slow-motion water ballet slows the mind right down and tends to leave one in a calmer place.


Turtle Rush Hour

Turtle traffic at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

Turtle at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

When there's a turtle traffic jam, there is no road rage, no swearing, no loud horns, no car bullying. It's a beautiful thing.


Disappearing act

Grebe at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach

I love grebes and greatly admire their ability to dive underwater and swim at great speed, making themselves virtually disappear whenever they feel like it.

Fishy Pool



This fish seems to have its own private floating swimming pool in the middle of a pond. Also, it uses a little secret entrance.

 

The Insects of Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center

Ant mimic bug at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL.


Ant Mimic Bug at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL


I spent hours exploring insects in the ephemeral wetland habitat of Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center today and spotted a few I've never before seen.

Florida Entomology Group helped me identify the ones above. The first photo, a  member advised, is an ant mimic bug that seems to be in the Alydidae family of broadheaded bugs, while the third is in the same family and likely a Hyalymenus longispinus (also a bug that mimics ants).

I've already begun reading about these ant impostors and am looking forward to learning more about them. Meanwhile, here are a few more sightings -- insects and otherwise -- from my visit to Long Key. 


Grasshopper at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

Notice how the grasshopper looks like a blade of grass. I am so in awe of insects today.

Grasshopper at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

Today I beat my not-so-hard-to-beat record for the most grasshoppers seen in one day. There were so many babies that it was like a grasshopper population explosion. When it was really quiet, I could hear the grasshoppers eating.


Thin-lined passionvine beetle at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

A thin-lined passionvine beetle crossing a bridge over The Land of the Tiny Grasshoppers.


Green bee at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

The Shining (a flower fly).


Palmetto tortoise beetle at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

This is a Palmetto Tortoise Beetle. There were about five of them on this saw palmetto. What's not apparent in this photo is their yellow antennas. A Facebook friend said these small beetles look like the pugs of the beetle world, and I can see that,  Until you get really close-up, they don't even look like insects ... They just look like little black spots. But once you zoom in on then, they're really quite beautiful.


Turtle at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

Not everything is about insects. Here's one of many turtles swimming through the reflections of  clouds, as viewed from the bridge behind Long Key Nature Center.


Pond Lily at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in Davie, FL

Here is one of the many pond lilies that can also be viewed from that bridge.


Beautyberry and the Bee



I was walking through the oak hammock at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center and found this shiny little beauty sunbathing beside some beautyberries.


Dewdrops on webs

Spider Web with Dewdrops on Grass

Spider Webs with Dew Drops on Grass


While walking through the ephemeral wetland habitat at Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center, I spotted some webs that had been made atop the grass. I noticed them because the dew drops on the webs were glistening in the sunlight.

I could not find the spider who made this web but did spot a winged creature that may have been destined to become that spider's next meal.

The green orchid bee

Green orchid bee


Green orchid bee


Green orchid bee

 
For years, I've been seeing shiny green bees that hover like a hummingbird and quickly dart from one flower to another.  I've always hoped that one day I would be able to observe one up close -- when it's wings weren't in constant motion. Today I spotted one who, much like me, was chilling out in a quiet and out-of-the-way spot at Flamingo Gardens in Davie.

These are a few of the photos I took of the green orchid bee (Euglossa dilemma). While the bee did fly from one place to another during my visit, it seemed to be having a lazy afternoon and was still hanging out when I left.

I have since spent a little more time reading about this bee, it's relationship to orchids and some of its characteristic including tongues "roughly two thirds as long as their bodies."

Here is a link to some interesting facts about them, along with an explanation of how they likely arrived here in South Florida.


Face of a tortoise

African spurred tortoise


African spurred tortoises can live to be upward of 150 years in the wild. This is one of two I always see at Flamingo Gardens, a sanctuary for permanently injured or non-releasable wildlife. Who couldn't love this little face?


Ibis acquainances

Ibis


Ibises are so often in a large group ... but I really like it when I get a chance to observe an individual ibis. Here are pics of a few of the ones I met at Flamingo Gardens today.


Ibis


Ibis


Ibis


Kitty love



No matter how big Ms. Lil Red Buttons gets, her mom continues to love to take care of her ... not that Lil Red always lets her. Ms. Buttons is a bit of a bully, but today she seemed happy to be getting some extra attention from PBJ (aka Jaysterina the Ballerina).

The little things

Cat paws


The kitties have the cutest back paws. I always smile when I see their feet as they lay sleeping. Sometimes it's the little things.


Lil Red Buttons and her mom


Mother and daughter tabby cat spooning


When I see the kitties -- PBJ and her big lovable 5-year-old baby -- like this, it makes my heart melt. 


The power of flowers


Flower photos on ready-to-hang tiles


This is the most recent of my ongoing efforts to bring the outdoors in, while still allowing for it to thrive and inspire. This time I experimented with larger (6x6-inch) tiles for a freshly painted yellow room ... all using photographs I've taken of beautiful flowers.

PBJ, a taabby cat


This is PBJ this morning, after a night of really loud fireworks followed by a ridiculously loud nearby outdoor party (with a DJ) that went on till about 4 a.m.

Before the morning nap (pictured here) PBJ and Lil Red had a fine breakfast and afterwards, they watched some bird and squirrel movies on their new favorite YouTube nature channel.

Now they're sacked out, probably until morning -- and are likely dreaming about their new cat tree. : ) Such is the life of kitties.

Florida softshells

Florida softshell turtle


Hung out with a Florida softshell turtle for awhile today. While I don't share my new friend's love of swimming, we have much in common otherwise.

Hope at Chapel Trail

Peaceful scene at Chapel Trail Nature Preserve


Being outside on a day like today makes me feel hopeful that the things that really mean something in this life can overcome the things that do not. Nature is that powerful.


Head in the clouds

Clouds


Clouds


Clouds


The sky was an evolving work of art today.


The Jaysterina

A tabby cat named PBJ a.k.a. Jaysterina the Ballerina


PBJ a.k.a. Jaysterina the Ballerina may look like a serious cat but she actually has quite a sense of humor.

Monarch polka dots

Monarch butterfly


When I think of monarch butterflies I sometimes forget about their polka dots.


Lil Red and The Grinch

Lil Red Buttons and The Grinch


Lil Red Buttons and The Grinch, who is her best friend throughout every holiday season.

Bringing the outdoors in

Nature photography project


Before discarding things, I ask myself whether there's anything better I could do with these items. Often, there is.

I have five square vases that I received flowers in over the years. Though I didn't imagine what I would do with the vases once the flowers died, I couldn't bear to throw them away so I put them it in a high cupboard over the fridge. Recently, I was in cleaning/organization mode and spotted these square glass vases and began thinking about the little pass-through window between the kitchen and the dining nook.

Despite the traditional name of this little window in the wall, I never actually pass anything through it ... but it's nice to have something to see on that little shelf. Having said that, the shelf is between two rooms so if you place things there, you can see the front of the items from one room and the back of them from the other. So not just anything works there.

The square containers, I thought, could be perfect for this space. I sealed one of my nature photos onto each of the four sides, so now I can just turn each of the five cubes occasionally to create different displays. I like the idea of bringing nature indoors.

I can also use the cubes as containers for something ... though I'm not quite sure what yet.



Nature Moment



I don't think I would be going out on a limb to say that many people -- myself included -- are feeling a little anxious recently. Sometimes I feel like nature is one of the few things that help to balance the reality of life. So I am sharing another meditative Nature Moment.


Nature Moment: Curly-Tailed Lizard vs. The Ants



A tiny film about one of the curly-tailed lizards who patrol the sidewalk just outside my front door.

The Eyes of Hootie

Tabby cat with big green eyes


This is Hootie, one of two very special cats that I care for while their best friend/feeder is out-of-town. Hootie's housemate is Sugarbear, who is the daughter of PBJ and sister of Lil Red.