• Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos). Boca Raton, FL, October 30, 2015.

    Backyard butterflies: Crescent city

    This October, just in time for Halloween, I’ve had sightings of two different orange and black butterflies known as crescents: Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) and Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon). I’ve written

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  • Pollination is serious business--get in line, busy bee!

    Butterflies and Bees: out takes

    You find some funny things when you start reviewing your photo files looking for images to delete (file sizes are big these days!). So the other day I posted a

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  • Hmm...Let's see whether there's any nectar in this here Cordia globosa flower.

    Butterfly Sage: bees love it, too!

    Birds love it. Bees love it. Maybe even educated fleas love it. But butterflies probably love it the most. What is it? Why, butterfly sage, of course. I’ve written before

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  • Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina). Boca Raton, FL, September 5, 2015.

    Dragonflies gone missing?

    I haven’t seen nearly as many dragonflies in the back yard this summer as I have in years past; I’m not sure why. But it seems that nowadays I have to

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  • Depth of field redux

    A couple of years ago as I was just starting out in macro photography I experimented a little bit with depth of field using a beautiful male Citrine Forktail damselfly.

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  • Zebra heliconian

    Some days, you just get lucky. This Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia) just sat patiently on a leaf letting me snap pictures as I walked closer and closer.

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  • Damselfeast 2015

    The Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (Ischnura hastata) is one of the more widespread and common damselflies in my area, and across the southern part of the country, really. Its range even

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  • Dragonflies and damselflies returning to the yard

    After a dry beginning to March (and no rain since then, but at least the heat’s moderated a bit for the past few days), the odonates have started returning to

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  • New Backyard Butterfly: Martial Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon martialis)

    With my new “monthly inventory” program underway, I’m taking a bit more time in the mornings and at lunch out in the yard, weeding when windy, taking pictures when calm.

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  • Giant Swallowtail at last

    The Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) is not the largest butterfly in North America. That distinction goes to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, at least to the larger females of that species. P.

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  • Here there be dragons

    Wow, a record for me. Three days in a row at the Yamato Scrub! My older son, Eric, surprised me midmorning on Labor Day by suggesting that we go to

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  • The Café at the End of the Universe

    Remember Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Remember how Milliways will eventually be built on the remains of Frogstar B,

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The Oaks of Delray

This weekend, instead of shepherding a bunch of birders around the flooded fields of Belle Glade as I normally do, I volunteered to do trail maintenance, weeding, and trash pickup at another local natural area managed by the Department of Environmental Resources Management: Delray Oaks. The site is one of my favorites: it's in south county, so it's close to home, and it's really quite beautiful. Read more

Rainfall in August

Summer is the rainy season in Florida. This summer we have high hopes of a wet season, after a couple of years of drought. The winter was unusually wet, at least in the coastal regions, leaving our local wellfields quite full, although Lake Okeechobee, the region's backup water supply, has been quite low for some time (scroll down for a graph showing just how long it's been below the benchmark 10 feet). Read more

Why blog about nature?

What is it about the natural world here in Florida that made me start thinking of myself as a naturalist? I certainly had no training as one in California, which arguably has more nature. In the 20+ years that I lived there, I got to know the Pacific Ocean by swimming, bodysurfing, and surfing in it. I got to know the mountains and the deserts from my interest in rock climbing. But I knew the nature of California in the same way I knew her freeways: Read more

Mars has water

NASA's Phoenix lander has at long last provided direct evidence of water on Mars. And it's been a long time coming. Back in the nineteenth century, an italian observer, Giovanni Schiaparelli, wrote that he saw "channels" or "grooves" (canali) on the red planet. Percival Lowell, betrayed by what we call un faux ami in French, preferred to read canali as canals; ie, structures built by sentient life Read more

The buzz about the ladies of Fern Forest

As I've complained elsewhere in this blog, the summer sun in Florida is hot. Brutally hot. When it's on, like it is today, it feels like you've somehow wandered into a humid blast furnace. Clothes, if you're wearing them, pull the sweat out of you (the technical term for this is transpiration) and then stick to you like glue. The sweat that doesn't get mopped up by your clothes drips down your arms, your legs, your face. It's just plain hot. Trouble is, it doesn't pay to stroll around in the south Florida sun naked, either. Read more

Scrubbing, part two

As the morning wore on, the work crew wore out. The sun rose higher, the temperature followed suit, and the little pick-me-up afforded by the popsicles and other treats wore off. Good thing for this tired man that his family was standing ready to pick him up. As he returned to the truck, he phoned home to set the wheels in motion. Read more
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