Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 35

31 Aug 2013, Orlando Wetlands Park

It was a very good day for our monthly butterfly and dragonfly survey and for the next year we will be doing the survey at Orlando Wetlands, and that is a treat in itself.

This Dorantes Skipper, Urbanus dorantus, is listed as a vagrant in this area, more common in southern Florida.

This is an attractive species, the Long-tailed Skipper, with its gorgeous green and blue on the topside of the body.  The blue area is mostly in the shadows in this image but you can see the blue better in the next image ...

Also, notice how the lighting affects the color and pattern of the wings in these two photos, one shows it, one mostly hides it.

The butterflies are beautiful, however, they are also the prey of ...

... prey of spiders (the butterfly might be a Zarucco Duskywing).

... prey of Mantids.  Look closely.  The Mantid is eating right in the middle of the abdomen of the butterfly.  They camouflage themselves well.  What we think are small twigs can be Mantids.

... prey of dragonflies like this male Eastern Pondhawk.
If these butterflies are not being eaten now ...

... they soon will be; if this Cloudless Sulfur doesn't vacate the premises quickly, that big spider will soon make this butterfly victim #4.

30 Aug 2013, Merritt Island NWR

At Merritt Island NWR, on East Gator and Peacocks Pocket, the narrow trail road and its vegetation is all there is with water all around, so birds like this Loggerhead Shrike will perch in the trail shrubs there and sometimes your car is practically right next to them.  I took this photo out my car window.

This Wilson's Phalarope (center) is probably thinking, "Why am I the center of attention?"  It has four Yellowlegs sp. checking out the "different one" while the Dowitcher sp. (far right) could care less.

Look at that beautiful pruinose blue thorax on this male Seaside Dragonlet -- click the image to enlarge it.  Not all these males get this pruinosity.  Normally, they are all glossy black, but some of them get this pruinose overlay.

This is a very common species near the coast, the Marl Pennant.  I was so pleased that I had a clear background and got my best image yet of this species.

29 Aug 2013, Black Bear Wilderness Area

OK any of you bug experts out there.  What the heck is this thing?

Update ..... it is a Red-footed Cannibalfly

Usually, we try to ID a species.  In this case, I don't know what genus, what family, I don't even know what order this thing belongs to.  Grasshoppers have hind legs with a base near posterior of the thorax; this thing has its legs coming out way up front at the anterior end.  The wings are not as long as the abdomen.  Grasshoppers with wings usually have wings longer than their abdomen.  It seems to lack antennae but that may be a single antenna protruding from its face.  It flew from this twig to a nearby plant.

Update ... some experts informed me this is a "Robbery Fly".  The order is Diptera. The superfamily is Asiloidae.  The family is Asilidae.  Common name is "Red-footed Cannibalfly".  Thank you !!!

Camera shy birds ... have you ever tried to take the picture of somebody and they go running for cover.  Birds do it too.

Camera shy male Hooded Warbler

Camera Shy American Redstart (at least seven today)

Camera Shy Tufted Titmouse

I saw four black pigs being chased by what I thought was a Florida Black Bear.  It was actually momma pig and the size of this brute was amazing.  The baby pigs looked like adult pigs and momma looked like an SUV.  A Florida Black Bear would go running for cover if it saw this tank of a pig.

There was one Empidonax species again today but unlike yesterday when the Eastern Wood-Pewee vocalized, no such luck today.  I also saw what had to be a Cartharus thrush--it looked more brown tinged than rufous.  I did not even report it on my eBird report because I have no photo of it and species from that genus are not seen in central Florida in August.  It would be nice if we all could get photos of everything we see but that just will not happen.

I returned today to this location in hopes of again finding and photographing that male Prothonotary Warbler in stunning breeding blues.  I saw this species here in June of last year so I do think they breed here.  No luck today, but I did see one other Prothonotary Warbler (maybe two but the second one is a UFO).  Seven American Redstarts and three Black-and-white Warblers added to the migrants for today.

28 Aug 2013, Black Bear Wilderness Area

A male Prothonotary Warbler with the bluest of blue wings was my highlight today at Black Bear Wilderness Area in Seminole County.  What a stunning warbler it was.  I may just cancel my plans for tomorrow and return here to see if he is still there and try to get a photo worthy of this male's beauty.

An Eastern Wood-Pewee was the migrant of the day and American Redstarts were seen throughout the trail but not one male--all juveniles and females.  A Yellow-throated Vireo vocalized.  Dragonflies were patrolling the streams on both sides of the trail before it meets the Saint Johns River and Tawny Emperor, blues, swallowtails and a good group of butterflies were present.

The various habitats here are perfect for both the Barred Owl and this Red-shouldered Hawk.  Besides the Cypress Swamp, this location has Hydric Hammock, Floodplain Marsh, Floodplain Swamp and Mixed Hardwood Swamp.  I have seen bobcats and Florida Black Bear here; it is always a fun place to go to and seems active with wildlife most of the time.  In very close proximity to this location are Rock Springs Run State Park, Wilson's Landing, Seminole State Forest, Lower Wekiva Preserve State Park and the Markham Tract section of Wekiwa Springs State Park (an isolated section northeast of the main park).

I usually see Barred Owls on most trips to this location and today was no exception.  I imagine there are a lot of territorial fights among these two species, unless they made an agreement with each other to keep an eye out for the Great Horned Owls.

This raccoon and I ran into each other four times along the trail where it runs parallel with the Saint Johns River.  It would scamper off then reappear again further down the trail.

26 Aug 2013, Wekiwa Springs State Park

As I neared Wekiwa Springs State Park, I saw a buteo "soaring" in a way that practically had the hawk sky-writing its name with its characteristic flight style.  It is a stretch to call it soaring when it was stalling, kiting, stooping and once I pulled off the road and got my binoculars up, I confirmed it was a dark morph Short-tailed Hawk above the Seminole County section of the park.

In the main section of the park (Orange County), I saw either the same Short-tailed Hawk or another one along with three Red-shouldered Hawks and a Red-tailed Hawk.  Three Osprey were soaring at great heights--no fish up there, for sure, but the Osprey must like to just soar and enjoy their flights.   An Eastern Kingbird landed in a tree adjacent to the Sand Lake Parking Lot.

Predator and Prey ...

Here is the prey:

There seemed to be a lot of these Azalea Caterpillars (Datana major) crawling around, so ...

here comes the predator, the Fiery Caterpillar Hunter!!!

Calosoma scrutator

Gardeners should like this beetle because they like to dine on the Azalea Caterpillars.

I also saw a Pygmy Rattlesnake but I don't want to post an image because I am unsure if it was injured or not.  It looked fine but a long time passed by without it moving.

Update ... The Pygmy Rattlesnake died, a victim of a car or bicycle likely, according to a park staffer who found it after I did.

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