Pine Hyacinth

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

pine hyacinth 5
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.


Click to access clematis_baldwinii_pine-hyacinth_3_0.pdf


Ornate Bella Moth

After the Butterfly Count at Chinsegut Conservation Center, a friend Linda Morehouse, who is also an FWC Volunteer as well, and I decided to take a short hike over at the Big Pine Tract. Big Pine Tract

Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area has three hiking areas; Nature Center Trail, Pines to Prairie Trail (Corner of 41 and Snow Memorial HWY), Big Pine Tract as well as managing Perry Oldenburg and Janet Butterfield. Janet Butterfield is closed to the public, however they do have closed hiking days available, see for scheduled next hike)

The Ornate Bella Moth..

Bella Moth
Ornate Bella Moth with wings opened | August 25

What a beautiful moth! The colors orange and pink with black spots just features an extraordinary design against its white body!

Bella Moth
Ornate Bella Moth side profile | August 25

The life cycle of the ornate Bella Moth is short.. only three weeks. The host plant for the Bella Moth is the Lanceleaf Rattlebox, which is toxic to human and livestock (Important information:

Photographing these moths with their wings open is difficult, patience and putting your drive mode on continuous is the best way to go.


Southeastern Five-lined Skink

What a beautiful color combination the Southeastern Five-linked Skink has. Those colors just pop in canopy areas.

southeastern five-lined skink
Southeastern Five-lined Skink | August 15

I was very lucky just to get a couple of shots, they usually don’t stay still for very long.

Not a lot of information about these.. see the links below


American Bullfrog

We have always heard them during our travels at Chassahowitzka WMA, but never seemed to have been able to photograph them.

American Bullfrog
American Bullfrog | August 15

Some interesting facts about the American Bullfrog…..

  • Live up to 9 years
  • Circular eardrums also called tympanum that are on either side of their heads
  • Males are aggressive and will protect their territory
  • Ambush predators
  • Females are slightly larger than the males
  • Females can lay up to 20,000 eggs



Bristle Thistle

Thistles are very beneficial for wildlife and pollinators and there are a couple of varieties of thistles that I know are common at Chassahowitzka WMA.

Bristle Thistle’s have sharp needle like leaves so be careful not to get too close to the leaves while taking any macro shots. These bloom throughout Spring, Summer and Fall.  Once you see them in the pre-blooming stage you can make plans to come back in a week or two (depending on the bloom stage) to photograph pollinators and other insects!

Once they are in bloom you can pretty much stay for awhile photographing butterflies, bees, beetles and even spiders. So bring a chair because the bees and butterflies are pretty much occupied gathering nectar.


Bristol Thistle
Bristol Thistle | Photographed on August 1 | Another week or two these will be in bloom

Insects to photograph:

  • Butterflies
  • Moths
  • Spiders
  • Bees
  • Beetles