Butterflies, Dragonflies and Lubbers

In addition to the beautiful flowers and majestic trees in Naples Botanical Gardens, there is a vast array of the usual small insects as well as the occasional small alligator. In many ways I enjoy the animal life as much as the flora. I think they can add a life and energy to photos. There was the usual mix of dragonflies, butterflies, and bees.
butterfly and flower
dragonfly
I was also surprised by what, to me, was a giant grasshopper. The eastern lubber grasshopper (or sometimes just lubber) is about four inches long. It is only found in the southeast U.S. from Texas to South Carolina. To this northern gal this grasshopper was like a prehistoric beast. I was fortunate to catch a couple of photos in a very beautiful setting.
grasshopper and leaves
grasshopper
As always, I enjoy reading your thoughts and comments. Thanks for following my photoblog.

Garden Flowers

The Naples Botanical Gardens is a wonderful treasureland for photographs; beautiful flowers in accessible settings. Here are some of the images I liked. My next post will feature a lubber and some other visitors to the Gardens.

star
blossom and sky
water drop
blossoms
stamin
red leaf
magenta spikes
what

Shadows on a Pot

Shadows on a Pot


And an image of me before my morning coffee.
B. C. (before coffee)

Water Flowers

The Naples Botanical Gardens (naplesgarden.org) occupies over 170 acres (including parking and a 90-acre natural preserve). The 2.5 mile walking trail leads the visitor through seven different settings for flowers and trees. Today’s images from the gardens focus on water flowers; both lilies and shoreline flowers. The last three photos remind us that flowers – while beautiful – are also food for many animals. More from the gardens on Monday.
red webs and water
flower against water
lavender water lily
pink water lily
lily and shadow
red lily and bee
water lily for lunch
water lily and bee

Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida is one of the wealthy cities in the U.S. with a per capita income in excess of $60,000 and the percentage below the poverty line at about 3%. I saw Maseratis, Jaguars, and Rolls Royces as well as many BMWs. It is also populated with both modern and classic convertibles. Houses along the coast sell for more than $40 million. We saw a house being built that had 17 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms. Naples permanent population of is just under 20,000 (2010 census) with an additional 12,000+ adding to the congestion in the winter months.

Pat and Jim’s condo was a very lovely, well-decorated 2 bedroom condo. One morning, outside their front door, we spotted a mourning dove on her nest. The picture was taken from the steps leading to the second floor condos at a distance of 8 feet or so. We didn’t want to disturb the nest

Mama Mourning Dove

Mama Mourning Dove

Once when she was away from the nest we saw that it contained 2 eggs, which is normal. While I was there, one of the eggs hatched.

Hatchling Mourning Dove

Hatchling Mourning Dove

There was also a bird of paradise next to their building.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

Downtown Naples, has many art galleries and artsy stores (and one delicious gelato shop!). These images are from an art piece just outside the free parking garage downtown. The work is made of a mixture of colored glass panels positioned at various angles. In the second image, it looks like my boat has come in.

Glass Panels

Glass Panels

Window Boat

Window Boat

My first full day in Naples we attended a lunchtime organ concert. The concert was at the First Presbyterian Church which is home to one of the most magnificent organs in the U.S. The organ has its own web site at http://issuu.com/fpcnaples/docs/organ_brochure. Everyone was invited to come up and look at the organ and pipes after the concert. Ruffatti organs are known around the world for their excellent craftsmanship.

Trumpets and Pipes

Trumpets and Pipes

Trumpets

Trumpets

Finally, another Naples sunset picture.

Sunset

Sunset

Everglades’ Alligators

There are both alligators (more rounded nose) and crocodiles (more pointed nose) in Southern Florida, but the most common are alligators. The pictures below are of some of the alligators (and maybe one crocodile) I saw in my trip through 25 miles of the Everglades. Alligators usually try to blend in with their surrounds (like posing as floating logs for example), but they also like to warm themselves in the sun. The pictures reflect both of these varied states of alligators. There is an alligator close encounter story near the end of this post.

Gater Peek-a-Boo

Gater Peek-a-Boo

Head in the Water

Head in the Water

Sunbathing Gater

Sunbathing Gater

Hiding in the Shadows

Hiding in the Shadows

Gater in Waiting

Gater in Waiting

Crocodile?

Crocodile?

Alligator Head

Alligator Head

Gater Drumsticks

Gater Drumsticks

The next two images have a story behind them. The images are of a 9-10 foot alligator that I almost stepped on. Because Pat usually parked the van close to the roadside (to allow for the few passing vehicles), I got used to opening my door and taking a look before stepping out in order to avoid mud or poison ivy. As I started to open my door at this glade, I saw an alligator tail and heard a very loud (at least to me!) hiss. I quickly closed the door and rolled down the window, taking these two shots from safer environs than an alligator’s tail . . . or jaw.

Big Daddy (or Mommy?) Alligator

Big Daddy (or Mommy?) Alligator

Big Daddy has Big Teeth

Big Daddy has Big Teeth

Dragonfly (In case you need a break from alligators)

Dragonfly (In case you need a break from alligators)

Bye Bye Gater

Bye Bye Gater

Birds of the Everglades

The Everglades, especially in the rainy season, is a slow-moving river 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long. Shaped by water and fire, the Everglades experience frequent flooding in the wet season and drought in the dry season. While we often think of the Everglades as dense marshlands, there are also expansive grasslands throughout the area.

Our (me and Pat) expedition to the Everglades began very early in the hope of getting both sunrise and mist shots over the grasslands. We were successful in our effort as seen in the first two pictures below. We then took a gravel road through much denser swamp areas with occasional openings or “glades”. It was at these small ponds that we were able to get pictures of both birds and alligators (my next post). The captions in the pictures below identify the birds with one exception. If you know the identity of the bird listed as “friend”, I would love to hear from you. I enjoy hearing from you if you don’t know this bird’s identity as well.

Sunrise over the Grasslands

Sunrise over the Grasslands

Morning Mist

Morning Mist

White Ibis

White Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Egret and Friend

Egret and Friend

Great Egret Neck Extended

Great Egret Neck Extended

Anhinga

Anhinga

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

Black Vulture (much rarer than the Turkey Vulture)

Black Vulture (much rarer than the Turkey Vulture)

Florida Scrub-Jay

Florida Scrub-Jay

Young Great Blue Heron

Young Great Blue Heron

Parting Sunrise Shot :-)

Parting Sunrise Shot 🙂

The Rookery

I got back Tuesday from a wonderful visit with friend and fellow photoblogger Pat, and her hubby. Naples Florida was our home base, but Pat and I did a few photo safaris. One such visit was to the Venice Rookery.
sign
A rookery is a nesting area for birds that are harmonious (mostly) with each other. This particular rookery was a small island – maybe 45 feet in diameter – with trees and vines that stack up 20-25 feet high located in a large pond (or small lake). The nesting birds were mostly wading water birds in this moat-like setting. The birds would add to their nest with leaves and twigs from the trees along the shore of the small pond.

Rookery

Rookery

I think the largest population on the rookery was the Anhinga; a bird about 35 inches tall with an average wingspan of 45 inches. They, unlike many water birds, do not have a protective coating on their wings and thus will frequently be seen with their wings spread to dry out.

Anhinga with Spread Wings

Anhinga with Spread Wings

Backlit Anhinga

Backlit Anhinga

Anhinga Portrait

Anhinga Portrait

Close behind in terms of population is the Great Egret (averaging 39 inches tall with a 51 inch wingspan).

Great Egret

Great Egret

If you have heard or used the phrase “Don’t ruffle your tail feathers.” this picture will give you a visual, as this upset Great Egret complains to the world about the latest cable news story (or perhaps it’s a warning cry to others to stay away from her baby; seen as brown fluff in the foreground).

Ruffled Tail Feathers

Ruffled Tail Feathers

Rarer were the diving and underwater-fishing Double-Crested Cormorant (with fish and posing on branch), Green Heron (look hard for the touch of green in its wings), Glossy Ibis (not pictured) and snake (pictured).
double crested cormorant

Note Beak and Webbed Feet

Note Beak and Webbed Feet


Green Heron

Green Heron


Snake

Snake

In many ways, the star of the show is the Great Blue Heron (averaging 46 inches tall with a 72-inch wingspan), here seen at the top of the rookery.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Here is a Great Blue Heron on a nest in the rookery:

Nesting Great Blue

Nesting Great Blue

Surprisingly, both the Great Blue Heron and Great Egret are quite graceful in flight.

Great White in Flight

Great White in Flight

Great Blue in Flight

Great Blue in Flight

Many of the newborn birds were old enough for the mom (or dad) to get off the nest.

Anhinga with Young

Anhinga with Young

The Rookery was a great visit with a calm and majestic beauty that is hard to describe in words or pictures. We had lunch after our visit and returned to Naples, where the sunsets seem to be always beautiful.

Naples Sunset

Naples Sunset

Coming Saturday: Water birds in the Everglades.

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