Three years and over 400 species!


My first observation at Chassahowitzka WMA was April 1, 2017. Three years later I have 1140 observations and 480 species.

When I first started iNaturalist I felt intimidated by all the ‘smarter’ people that could identify anything I posted. Only to know they are learning just like me. They are using this worldwide educational outlet not only to promote a way to learn about these millions of plant and animal species in these amazing ecosystems but so much more.

There are three main reasons why I use iNaturalist.

  1. To learn more about Florida’s species and the habitats they live in
  2. To know more about Florida’s wildflowers, where they are blooming and when
  3. To find new species to add to my observations

I often come across others driving around and I get asked the same question…”Did you see anything good?” My answer is always yes. Maybe it’s not the answer they were looking for when I might reply with…I saw this strange looking fly or a dragonfly eating a wasp.

I have seen a Florida Black bear a couple of times and had the honor of viewing 18 baby gators clustered together while the mother was close by. Not often do I see youngin’s, as nature is, their survival rate in the wild can be less than 50 percent, but when I do you can be assured there will be over a hundred photos of them.

When I am at Chassahowitzka WMA I observe, and as a nature photographer, no photo taken at any angle is the same. Once you start going through your photos either on-site or on the computer you will find something amazing or something that you didn’t see.

Nature is amazing
Why does the flower have red tips? Why do the leaves have hair?


Amazing is that every species, whether they are an insect or wildflower they all have their own uniqueness. Then you go through stages.

  • What the hell
  • OMG
  • So why
  • That is freaking cool
  • Respect

Take for instance you photograph (using your macro) a flower. You’re happy and carry on. Later you download your photos and look at the flower photos you shot. Now you see this bug that you didn’t see there before because you were focusing on the flower. (I have done that countless times and still do that today).

You zoom in and phase one begins …What is that? (What the hell?)

Why didn’t I see that? (OMG)

You start detailing its entire existence. Color, Shape….etc (So why?)

Then you start researching. Wow… (That’s freaking cool)

Finally, it’s all about respect… This is why you love being a nature photographer.

I do have my Chass photo bucket list containing a Bobcat, Fox, Diamondback Rattlesnake, Salamanders, Great Horned Owl and the list goes on!

I have yet to scratch the surface of Chassahowitzka WMA 20,000 acres. It is truly an amazing way to see nature and the keyword is observation. You will learn and get hooked.


Stay Safe and Respect All Living Things in Nature!

A hard lesson to learn

At this time I am trying to spend as much time out photographing nature. There are some locations where I haven’t been able to go due to, you know… people. I am okay with that.

So today, the area was clear, so I grabbed my camera and hurried to the boardwalk not thinking I should bring another lens. I wanted to get a few minutes of photographing and taking some video before anyone else showed up.

Today would have been probably my best nature video EVER!

Please excuse the quality of this video. I was shooting with my 60mm. And I am devastated, so upset with myself and really need to listen to my inner gut!

Never would I have ever thought I would see more than two snakes in one place.

Stay safe and respect wildlife!


Pine Barren Frostweed

Pine Barren Frostweed is a Florida native subscrub. (A small shrub which may have partially herbaceous stems, but generally a woody plant less than 3 feet high).

Pine Barren Frostweed | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020
Pine Barren Frostweed | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020

I can see where they would call it frost. The hair-like fibers on the buds can appear to look like frost.

The Pine Barren Frostweed thrives in sandy soils.

Pine Barren Frostweed | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020
Pine Barren Frostweed | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020


Flower Friday: Pinebarren frostweed

Hentz Striped Scorpion

Another species added to my Chassahowitzka WMA project…The Hentz Striped Scorpion. While kneeling down taking some photos of a plant, I glanced down to the left for a split second and saw this little critter scrimmaging through the pine needles heading right towards me.

The Hentz Striped Scorpion | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020
The Hentz Striped Scorpion | Alice Mary Herden | March 2020

This was very interesting indeed photographing a scorpion in its natural habitat, however trying to get a video was unsuccessful due to those fast little legs!

Hentz Striped Scorpion-Small





Red-eared Slider

The red-eared sliders were those cute little turtles you found at dime stores or pet stores.

Red-eared Slider | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden
Red-eared Slider | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden

These sliders are living in residential community ponds, lakes and streams.

Red-eared Slider
Red-eared Slider Interpretive Poster | Alice Mary Herden


Yellow Butterwort

I have been at Chassahowitzka WMA for years. Three years posting my observations on iNaturalist and I don’t recall ever seeing this plant.

The yellow butterwort is listed as a threatened species in the Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act.

Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden
Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden

So, this is just a little confusing, no let me say this is confusing about the shapes of these two yellow butterworts.

Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden
Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden
Yellow Butterwort 4Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden
Yellow Butterwort | March 2020 | Alice Mary Herden

Hopefully, I am able to get clarification on why the petals have different shapes.



Flower Friday: Yellow butterwort