While this photo may not suggest it, Greenhouse Frogs are in fact tiny. This one is only about the size of a quarter and had taken a dip in the pool before posing for this photo. Greenhouse frogs are one of the most common frogs in Florida and live anywhere that is warm and humid, as the name ‘greenhouse’ suggests. Fully grown they are about an inch long and are easily recognized by their chirpy song-like calls. This particular frog and it’s family lives under a plant on my patio and sing most humid nights, or when the plants are freshly watered.
Thanks to the sea breezes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts that converge over the Florida peninsula and usually push westerly, storms pop up most afternoons along the west coast. On this day in early July, my family had been enjoying an afternoon with friends anchored just offshore at Three Rooker Bar at Anclote Key Preserve just west of Tarpon Springs, FL. Around 3:00 pm, the sky started to cloud up and typical rainy season storms started to approach the Gulf from the east. Since the line was too long to outrun, we ‘battened down the hatches’ and prepared for the impending rain. The storm only lasted about twenty minutes and was by no means violent, but the cloudy skies beforehand made for some amazing photos.
This water lily was photographed at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, FL. It was a typical late afternoon in rainy season and while out photographing the tropical plants in bloom, an afternoon thunderstorm moved through. During rainy season it’s common for storms to move through quickly allowing the the sun back out within minutes to truly make things steamy. On this afternoon, it took a little while for the cloud cover to pass, giving me the opportunity to take a few photos with the freshly fallen rain without harsh lighting from the sun. As it turns out, the rain is what really added interest to many of my photos from that visit.
This weekend we are expecting highs in the upper 80’s and plentiful sunshine before our typical afternoon thunderstorms. With such warm temperatures, the only ways to stay cool are to be on the water or in the air conditioning! Many people will be out this weekend in their kayaks getting some great exercise while enjoying the water like only they can. With little water needed to float and virtually no impact to the sensitive sea grass beds in along our shores, kayaking opens a whole new world that few others can reach. A favorite destination for many kayakers are Caladesi and Honeymoon Island State Parks. The mangrove lined coves along the sound side of the islands are only accessible via kayak and are teaming with wildlife, making them a must see.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, Ospreys are one of my favorite birds. Now that I think about it, my fascination started when my family would spend as much as we possibly could on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our trip from Virginia Beach included a drive over the Wright Memorial Bridge, named after the famous Orville and Wilbur Wright who first took flight in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks. Along that drive, Osprey nests were easy to spot on the power poles and eventually the platforms provided for them along side the bridge. For me, seeing an Osprey today is just as exciting as it was when I was a kid and when I drive along the local bridges and causeways in the Tampa Bay area, I’ve always got an eye out to spot one.
After a recent fishing trip, my husband was filleting his catch at the marina before heading home for the day. This always draws quite a crowd…not people admiring the catch for the day, but shorebirds hoping for a snack. The feathered opportunists, this little Blue Heron, a few Brown Pelicans and a Great White Egret, were all watching intently looking for any chance that they might have a free lunch. While the pelicans are a given at any marina along the Gulf, Little Blue Herons are a treat to see. Little Blue Herons are small herons that are easily recognizable because they are as named, all blue. That is unless they are juveniles. In their first year, Little Blue Herons are actually all white. This heron is the only species to have such a dramatic color change as they age to adulthood.
Taken at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, FL, this is likely my single favorite photograph in my collection. Many of you will recognize this photo as I use it as a “signature photo” of sorts on several social media sites and on this PhotoBlog. It was taken back in August of 2007 on a stroll from the main beaches around to the pet beach on Hurricane Pass. There were typical afternoon thunderstorms in the area, and the building clouds are really what got my attention that afternoon. This spot right were Hurricane Pass meets the Gulf of Mexico was the perfect location to capture the golden sea oats in the foreground with the beautiful blue sky and striking white clouds above.