Sunset Silhouette

If I hadn’t shot this image myself, I would guess it’s location is Hawaii. But that guess would be way off — across a continent. The stark remains of this tree were found eroding along the shore on Lover’s Key in southwest Florida. It’s on protected lands where development has not been permitted, and Nature continues to tell stories.

#sunset, #tree, #silhouette, #gulf, #florida, #loverskey, #gulfcoast, #nature, #sunstar
I like the way the clouds echo the outstretched fingers of the tree’s branches.

As the sunstar records this fleeting moment, I am reminded that soon it will be dark, and I’d better hike back.

The Shell Tree

The Shell Tree on Lover’s Key is a unique spot where countless passers by have hung a shell. I think they wish to be remembered by Nature at the same time they pay quiet homage to this tree, which lives on and continues to tell stories beyond its lifetime.

#loverskey, #tree, #skeleton, #shells, #rememberme, #stories
Take a close look at the shells carefully placed in the crevices and on the hooks on the skeleton of this tree.

It will be interesting to visit this site again after Hurricane Irma to see what remains.

Incoming White Pelican

Snowbirds from the Great Lakes region, these large White Pelicans are fun to watch, especially when they spread their wings to fly, soar over the Gulf and come in for a quiet landing on the sandbar.

It was a balmy morning on Sanibel Island, Florida today in the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Bird lovers cruised slowly in cars and on bikes, and perched themselves along the shoreline with binoculars and cameras. The highlight of the morning was when one of us would say quietly to his neighbor, “Incoming!”

#whitepelican, #flight, #bird, #pelican, #sanibel, #birdwatching, #birdphotography, #nikon, #tamron
Squadron of White Pelicans assemble on the sandbar in J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. February 4, 2018

Let’s Do Sunset

It’s fun to meet a friend for sunset on the beach. It’s always a great time to relax, sip some wine and have a good conversation. Of course, this works if you live on the West Coast of Anywhere — Florida, California, Hawaii or any location in the world.

But sunset is extra special when the sun paints the clouds vivid shades of orange, pink, peach, mauve, and grey. It’s even nicer when the beach is quiet and a small egret walks along the sparkling shore.

#sunset, #egret, #clouds, #waterscape, #reflection, #gulf, #florida, #naples
Brilliant sunset on a quiet Naples beach, shared with a snowy egret.

Alligator, Open Wide!

Why do alligators lie there with their mouths open wide? Pretty much the same reason that a dog pants — to cool off. They might also lie in the shade or swim, but this gaping mouth gives us a good look at the gators large jaws and sharp teeth.

#alligator, #gator, #mouth, #teeth, #yawn, #why, #sony, #sunnyday, #everglades, #miami, #nationalpark, #nature, #wildlife
Alligator cooling off on a hot day in Shark Valley, part of Everglades National Park near Miami, Florida.


River of Grass

The “Everglades” means ever flowing river of grass. It is a massive shallow river of grassy swamp that drains fresh-water Lake Okeechobee in a wide path southward. Its depth varies from the wet season to the dry season, and it creates a fertile habitat for thousands of species of reptile, fish, insects, birds and plants.

December is just the beginning of the dry season, but there is still enough water (with the help of from Hurricane Irma in September) — to provide reflecting pools like this.

#everglades, #sharkvalley, #clouds, #florida, #sunnyday, #nationalpark, #bluesky
December water levels turn the Shark River Valley into a reflecting pool on a sunny day.

Wary Alligator

While this gator casts a wary glance at me, I am quite wary of him too, and I keep a respectful distance. On a recent trip to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I learned a few new facts about the American Alligator. If he chases you, don’t run serpentine, like the wive’s tale says. Run in a straight line, as fast as you can for alligators are very quick for just long enough to catch you. (They can run at 20 miles per hour.)  The jaws too are powerful (2900 pounds of force recorded), and no match for human self-defense.

#gator, #alligator, #americanalligtor, #everglades, #nationalpark, #florida, #sharkvalley, #dangerous,
Keep your distance from the American alligator. While humans are not its favorite food, it is both fast and powerful.

The 70mm lens on my Sony a2r7 camera makes it appear that I am close to the gator than I really am. (“Kids, don’t try this at home.”) Park rangers suggest a distance of at least 15 feet. Watch behind you, too. There are hundreds of alligators in the Everglades, some hidden underwater, Any fresh water watering hole in Florida could contain one.