Pine Hyacinth

If you ever wanted to feel like you are in a fairy-tale-like forest, this is the flower to be around.

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Pine Hyacinth | March 30 | Alice Mary Herden

This is my top favorite native wildflower, just being around them make you feel like you are in this fairy-like wonderland. The way the petals curl and fray, they are just beautiful. The pink/lilac burst in color during their blooming stage and as they soak in more of the sun their colors blend to a soft pastel and then to white. This flower has an amazing transformation.

Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden
Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden

I have seen a few at Big Pine, but never as many as I saw yesterday. After a prescribed burn, around 4-6 months ago (time flies) these wildflowers just popped up out of nowhere.

Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden
Pine Hyacinth | March 28 | Alice Mary Herden

That particular area FWC biologists, Matt Koenig, and Cliff Barga conducted a prescribed burn is filling up with Pine Hyacinth, and now is the best opportunity to photograph them. 

There is another species of these flowers, called a Netleaf Leather-Flower. The leather flower has the same flower shape but is a vine.


Big Pine Tract is part of the Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area.  The entrance is off of Old Crystal River Road in Brooksville. Be sure to sign in!


According to the Plant Atlas, the first documented species was in Hernando County in 1958 by George. R. Cooley, in the Chinsegut Hill area.


Links:

https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-clematis-baldwinii/

Click to access clematis_baldwinii_pine-hyacinth_3_0.pdf

 

Sandhill Milkweed

Sandhill or Pinewood milkweed is an essential plant that grows in sandhill habitat. I only see these growing sporadically, odd places. It’s where ever the seed falls, take root in the loose sand and flourish, which seems like a huge challenge!

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Sandhill Milkweed | March 21 | Alice Mary Herden

An incredible and extremely important plant for pollinators like the Monarch butterfly.

*Remember plants like these are in the forest for a reason, leave them where you found them. There are hundreds of wildlife species that depend on plants like these for their survival.

Check out your local Native Plant Societies for purchasing plants for your yard.


Links:

http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/asclepias-humistrata/

Click to access asclepias_humistrata_pinewoodsmilkweed.pdf

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/sg162

 

Broad-lined Erastra

While on assignment in the Withlacoochee State Forest I noticed this beautiful moth!

Broad-lined Erastra | March 21 | Alice Mary Herden
Broad-lined Erastra | March 21 | Alice Mary Herden

I couldn’t find much information about this particular moth on the internet, but according to Bug Guide, this is a male.

Broad-lined Erastra | March 21 | Alice Mary Herden
Broad-lined Erastra | March 21 | Alice Mary Herden

I have heard many people say to tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly is the moth always has its wings flatten… well that is not correct. The best way to tell is by their antennas. Butterflies have long straight antennas and most moths have these cool feathered antennas.

I think it might be time to spend some daylight hours in the Withlacoochee State Forest!

 

Camponotus Socius… UPDATE

So this is an ant… a Camponotus socius and a very cute one! Just look at that face!

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Camponotus socius | March 20 | Alice Mary Herden

As you know, extremely challenging to photograph… I managed to get a couple of shots.

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Camponotus socius | March 20 | Alice Mary Herden

They are primarily in the sandhill habitats, which a common name, I think would be sandhill ant, however, I am not sure if it does have a common name. The link below has some great information about their nesting abilities.


Link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1283890/


Common name for this ant is the Sandhill Carpenter Ant! Thank you Peter Slingsby

Read it all here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21425185

Palm Warbler

The Palm Warbler is one of the nine varieties of  Wood Warblers.

Palm Warbler | March 20 | Alice Mary Herden
Palm Warbler | March 20 | Alice Mary Herden

After the recent burn at Chassahowitzka, there were plenty of insects for these little warblers to forge on.

 

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Palm Warbler | March 20 | Alice Mary Herden

 

I think this was the best time for Palm Warbler photography!


Links:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/palm-warbler

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Palm_Warbler/id

http://www.nsis.org/bird/sp/sp-wwarb.html

 

Turkey Vultures

Often mistaken as buzzards, Turkey Vultures are scavengers. You will most likely see Black Vultures not too far behind, especially if there is carrion.

Turkey Vulture | February 28 | Alice Mary Herden
Turkey Vulture | February 28 | Alice Mary Herden

 

These are one of my favorite birds that I truly have the utmost respect for.

Don’t forget International Vulture Day is September 7th. (First Saturday in September)


Links:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/id

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/turkey-vulture