Egretta rufescens, 25 February 2007

Egretta rufescens, the Reddish egret;
Brevard county, Florida (25 February 2007).

An old, on-the-edge-of-being-decent shot of a Reddish egret splashing about the shallows of Brevard county, Florida. This species is roughly the same size as the Great egret, but it obviously colored quite differently. Though not rare, they’re also less commonly seen than their Great egret brethren.

Python bivittatus, 03 August 2017

Python bivittatus, the Burmese python;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (03 August 2017).

A young Burmese python crossing a lonely road in south Florida. This non-native species has proven to be catastrophic to our native wildlife in south Florida. As adults, they have considerable appetites and very few natural predators in south Florida. An impressive and very problematic species.

Platalea ajaja, 25 February 2007

Platalea ajaja, the Roseate spoonbill;
Brevard county, Florida (25 February 2007).

We may not have hordes of wild flamingos flapping about like many out of state think, but we do something even cooler and more awkward: the Roseate spoonbill. Spoonbills can sport some excellent pink plumage to accompany their already-remarkable spoon-shaped bills. Watching a spoonbill sift the shallows with its bill is quite something to behold.

Neotibicen tibicen australis, 15 June 2020

Neotibicen tibicen australis, the Southern dusky-winged cicada;
Volusia county, Florida (15 June 2020).

I found this newly-minuted adult Southern dusky-winged cicada chilling on a trail-side branch in north Ormond Beach, Florida. With a little bit of time and exposure, those bright, neonic greens will quickly fade and darken.

Leiocephalus carinatus, 07 August 2017

Leiocephalus carinatus, the Northern curlytail lizard;
Monroe county, Florida (07 August 2017).

Native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands, the Northern curltytail lizard is steadily making its way north throughout the Florida peninsula. I’ve seen them down in the Florida Keys and as far north as Stuart, Florida. They’ve also been well documented in the Cocoa Beach area and a few other spots ranging as far north as Jacksonville Beach. This seems to be a resilient species well adapted to Florida’s coastal mainlands.

Ardea herodias, 22 March 2007

Adrea herodias, the Great blue heron;
Brevard county, Florida (22 March 2007).

A common, ubiquitous site throughout the Floridian peninsula (and most of North America, actually), this is a fairly classic view of the Great blue heron. Few species abide the plenty of time with such grace and patience.

North Peninsula State Park, 26 February 2014

North Peninsula State Park;
Volusia county, Florida (26 February 2014).

One specific sunrise along one specific beach of the northern edge of Volusia County, Florida.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, folks!

Heteropoda venatoria, 27 June 2014

Heteropoda venatoria, the Pantropical huntsman spider;
Lake county, Florida (27 June 2014).

The Pantropical huntsman spider is, at this point, a global species. Perhaps native to southeastern Asia (I’m not entirely sure), it’s now very well established throughout most of the Floridian peninsula. This is an extremely adaptable and successful species. Though they can be intimidating to some people because of their size, the huntsman will do its best to avoid direct human contact, preferring instead to hunt about for a decent meal in relative safety.

Pachydiplax longipennis, 16 June 2013

Pachydiplax longipennis, the Blue dasher;
Lowndes county, Georgia (16 June 2013).

If I were a wee insect, this would be the face of terror. Dragonflies are remarkably powerful hunters of their prey. Fortunately, however, I’m a large, lumbering hominid, so the mug of a Blue dasher is far more mesmerizing than it is terrifying. I find dragonflies to be incredibly beautiful little biological machines.

Sceloporus woodi, 09 June 2017

Sceloporus woodi, the Florida scrub lizard;
Martin county, Florida (09 June 2017).

The Florida scrub lizard ranges mostly throughout the higher elevations of the Florida ridge, but we also have a thick line of populations near the Atlantic coast in lower central Florida. This was merely one of many Florida scrub lizards we encountered on this hike.

Scyllaea pelagica, 20 May 2014

Scyllaea pelagica, the Sargassum nudibranch;
Volusia county, Florida (20 May 2014).

The Sargassum nudibranch is a small mollusk adapted to scratching out a living in floating mattes of Sargassum brown macroalgae. When sargassum washes up ashore, sometimes you can find a tiny nudibranch trying to work out its next move.

Orthalicus floridensis, 27 November 2015

Orthalicus floridensis, the Banded tree snail;
Monroe county, Florida (27 November 2015).

I came across this lovely Banded tree snail bunkered down along the edge of a path in the Big Cypress / Everglades region. If/when you do come across a dormant tree snail in south Florida, please be sure to not pry it from the tree because this can damage its epiphragm, a kind of mucus seal that helps the tree snail to resist desiccation during the dry season.

Neotibicen similaris, 01 September 2013

Neotibicen similaris, the Similar dog-day cicada;
Volusia county, Florida (01 September 2013).

One of our more-common annual cicadas in central Florida is the Similar dog-day cicada. They can sport some seriously sharp figure-ground contrast in their dark patterning. This individual was photographed on our back patio.

Caiman crocodilus, 21 March 2015

Caiman crocodilus, the Spectacled caiman;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (21 March 2015).

The Spectacled caiman is a small, non-native crocodilian species now present in various pockets of southern Florida. Native to Central and South America, this species is relatively cold intolerant, which may (for now) curb their spread throughout the southeastern United States. I found this individual lurking about the inland edge of coastal system near Coral Gables.

Crocodylus acutus, 12 March 2021

Crocodylus acutus, the American crocodile.
Monroe county, Florida (12 March 2021).

Though surprising to some, Florida is home to two native crocodilian species. In addition to the more-famous American alligator, south Florida is also home to the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus. A large but mild-mannered crocodilian species, C. acutus tends to stick to salt and brackish water environments, especially around Florida Bay and the southern edge of the the Everglades, where this young individual was photographed while I paddled by.

Seirarctia echo, 18 July 2016

Seirarctia echo, the Echo moth;
Volusia county, Florida (18 July 2016).

Each April and May throughout the Florida peninsula, we are greeted by a new cluster of Echo moths fluttering here, there, and damn near everywhere. Their numbers ease off throughout the summer months and into the fall; late spring is their domain. In caterpillar form, their base tone is bright orange with a series of black and yellow rings.

Odocoileus virginianus clavium, 09 July 2011

Odocoileus virginianus clavium, the Key deer;
Monroe county, Florida (09 July 2011).

The Key deer is an absolute treasure of the Florida Keys. This subspecies of the white-tailed deer is somewhat miniaturized, typically standing only about 26-30 inches at the shoulder, which makes sense given they scratch out a living on the relatives small islands of the Florida Keys. The subspecies is also somewhat unphased by humans. This individual was lounging about with a group at the edge of a Mangrove in the middle keys. It was content to just chill out while I slowly walked around and snapped some pics.

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, 16 March 2016

Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake;
Volusia county, Florida (16 March 2016).

Though venomous, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake is an intensely shy and reclusive species. They are most assuredly not aggressive, as some insist on believing. My respect and adoration of this species has grown steadily in the past decade or so. Because they are so common where I live, the Dusky pigmy rattlesnake is perhaps my most-commonly encountered species at this point.

Rhadinaea flavilata, 13 April 2020

Rhadinaea flavilata, the Pinewoods snake;
Volusia county, Florida (13 April 2020).

The Pinewoods snake is a small, reclusive species that spends most of its time hidden from view. Though not particularly uncommon, they are uncommonly seen by people. We were lucky to have a fairly dense population around our home a few years back and saw them more regularly than elsewhere.

Aratus pisonii, 27 December 2013

Aratus pisonii, the Mangrove tree crab;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (27 December 2013).

I came across this wee Mangrove tree crab, one of many, scampering about the lush, salty edge of Coral Gables, Florida. This species scratches out its living among the coastal mangrove tangles of the Florida peninsula, but they’re particularly abundant in the southern half of the state.

Sternotherus minor, 30 October 2016

Sternotherus minor, the Loggerhead musk turtle;
Levy county, Florida (30 October 2016).

The Loggerhead musk turtle is a fairly small and robust aquatic species ranging throughout the Northern Florida peninsula and much of Georgia. It only grow upwards to three to five inches in carapace length but sports an impressively large, blockish head. This individual was photographed in a spring-fed run in Levy county, Florida.

Eleutherodactylus planirostris, 21 August 2013

Eleutherodactylus planirostris, the Greenhouse frog;
Volusia county, Florida (21 August 2013).

The Greenhouse frog is a non-native species (a very, very small non-native species) now well established throughout the Floridian peninsula and even South Georgia (and beyond, in pockets). Typically nocturnal and low to the ground, however, I don’t believe they impact our local treefrogs to any signifiant degree.

Anaxyrus terrestris, 06 June 2022

Anaxyrus terrestris, the Southern toad;
Volusia county, Florida (06 June 2022).

Toads are awesome. Toads of all squats and sizes. In Florida, our dominant (native) toad is Anaxyrus terrestris, the Southern toad. They can be quite abundant in some stretches of the peninsula at night. This is their standard posture and pose. Squatted, ready for action, biding their time. An appetite poised to hop.

Setophaga palmarum, 27 December 2013

Setophaga palmarum, the Palm warbler;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (27 December 2013).

Palm warblers warble about with the best of them. Small, agile, and perhaps overly-energetic, I usually have a devil of a time getting a decent, clear shot of one of these. I don’t have a decent telephoto lens that allows me to get up close from afar. Still, sometimes the warblers cooperate for just the right number of seconds I need to get a clear reference shot!

Homo sapiens, 09 July 2011

Homo sapiens, the Modern human;
Monroe county, Florida (09 July 2011, 8:17am).

It seems only appropriate to represent my own species, Homo sapiens. Here, then, is a Modern human resting on a Key West sidewalk at 8:17 am, dollar bills very much still at the ready. On the spectrum of chaos that modern humans are capable of ushering unto the world around them, this particular human was fairly benign — at this particular moment, at least.

Cemophora coccinea coccinea, 18 April 2015

Cemophora coccinea coccinea, the Florida scarlet snake;
Lake county, Florida (18 April 2015).

The Florida scarlet snake is a non-venomous subspecies ranging throughout the peninsula. Though they are often misidentified as being venomous coral snakes, a closer look at the head will reveal a world of difference between the two — in both shape and coloring. Note the relatively flattened and shovel-like curve of the Florida scarlet snake’s frontal red snout. This is in stark contrast to the coral’s extremely dark, blunt snout.

Micrurus fulvius, 21 October 2017

Micrurus fulvius, the Eastern coral snake;
Marion county, Florida (21 October 2017).

Up close with an Eastern coral snake, a fairly common yet reclusive venomous species in the American southeast. Though it certainly does pack a potent neurotoxic venom, the Eastern coral snake is far from aggressive and spend much of its time hidden somewhat from the surface world. When they are faced by a human, their primary instinct is to get the hell of out of dodge.

Hyla femoralis, 21 May 2022

Hyla femoralis, the Pinewoods treefrog;
Volusia county, Florida (21 May 2022).

Where I live, you hear Pinewoods treefrogs far more than you actually see them. They tend to stay a bit higher in the trees but do occasionally come down to lower terrain. Last spring and summer, we had a number of Pinewood treefrogs making use of our front patio bushes and parked vehicles. It was nice to see them down low for a change!

Hyla chrysoscelis, 12 April 2014

Hyla chrysoscelis, the Cope’s gray treefrog;
Gilchrist county, Florida (12 April 2014).

Cope’s gray treefrog doesn’t quite range to my neighborhood in Volusia County, but they’re quite abundant west and north of here. This splashy, noisy individual was photographed in Gilchrist county on a hot, humid, and very busy April night. There were gray treefrogs calling all over the place. It was a busy night for them — and for me!

Egretta tricolor, 27 June 2022

Egretta tricolor, the Tricolored heron;
Lake county, Florida (27 June 2022).

The Tricolored heron is an overly abundant, energetic species throughout the whole of the Floridian peninsula and beyond. We’ll often see them loitering about the shorelines of our creeks, rivers, lakes, and, on occasion, beaches. I find them to be most abundant in the Florida interior, but they certainly aren’t rare along the coastal regions either.

Diadophis punctatus punctatus, 29 March 2014

Diadophis punctatus punctatus, the Southern ringneck snake;
Lake county, Florida (29 March 2014).

The Southern ringneck is a small, stealthy, most-subterranean subspecies fairly abundant in the American southeast, especially in Florida. They spend most of their time buried somewhat beneath surface detritus but can sometimes be seen slinking about the ground at night and after a nice rain.

Nerodia erythrogaster transversa, 10 June 2004

Nerodia erythrogaster transversa, the Blotched watersnake;
Cleveland county, Oklahoma (10 June 2004).

This shot isn’t too great, but the species is. Throwing the line back out west, this is a Blotched watersnake, one of the Plainbelly watersnake subspecies, photographed in Norman, Oklahoma. When I lived in Oklahoma for a few years as a kid back in the 80s, this was my most-commonly encountered species (alongside the larger, rowdier Diamondback waterside, Nerodia rhombifer). Both species are entirely non-venomous, but that didn’t stop many locals from shouting “Poisonous!” every time they saw me with one. Heh. Anyhow, every time I get back to Oklahoma, this species is on my list to find.

Eacles imperialis, 09 October 2013

Eacles imperialis, the Imperial moth;
Volusia county, Florida (09 October 2013).

The Imperial moth is a large, variable species rather abundant throughout the late summer and early autumn months, most notably October in Volusia County, Florida. Large, regal, and quite furry, I consider the presence of an Imperial moth to be a sign of good luck — or at least as an excuse for quiet appreciation.

Nerodia clarkii taeniata (x) N. fasciata pictiventris, 23 April 2006

Nerodia clarkii taeniata (x) Nerodia fasciata pictiventris,
hybrid of the Atlantic salt marsh snake and the Florida banded watersnake;
Brevard county, Florida (23 April 2006).

Once upon an ago, the Atlantic salt marsh snake was a well-established subspecies of the Salt marsh snake in east-central Florida, particularly within Volusia and Brevard county brackish and salt marsh ecosystems. Today, their numbers have diminished significantly. Rather than simply disappearing, however, an interesting process has been unfolding. A more-freshwater oriented species, Nerodia fasciata pictiventris, has gradually moved into and invaded the Atlantic salt marsh snake’s habitats (which are, as you may guess, brackish and saltwater marshes). They’ve hybridized quite a bit, these two species, over the past few decades. Today, most of the salt marsh snakes I encounter exhibit signs of this hybridization. They look like smaller banded watersnakes with traces of salt marsh striping and patterning. Very, very cool.

Cardisoma guanhumi, 02 September 2011

Cardisoma guanhumi, the Blue land crab;
Miami-Dade county, Florida (02 September 2011).

In the Miami area, everybody’s going to the club in one way or another. This is the Giant land crab, also known as the Blue land crab. This particular individual is leaning heavily towards the latter name, but many larger individuals can lack actual blue coloring. They can appear rather creamy with yellows and sometimes almost an orange tint. Land crabs can spend quite a bit of time on land, as you might’ve guessed. It’s not unprecedented to have one hang out on a random tennis court where I live.

Buteo lineatus, 31 December 2012

Buteo lineatus, the Red-shouldered hawk;
Lowndes county, Georgia (31 December 2012).

Oh, yeah, you can’t get much better than a Red-shouldered hawk peering down at the terrestrial lifeforms living beneath its gaze. This species has such a fantastic intensity and focus, two traits I admire greatly.

Gopherus polyphemus, 18 June 2022

Gopherus polyphemus, the Gopher tortoise;
Volusia county, Florida (18 June 2022).

One of Florida’s most precious species, this is the Gopher tortoise, a mid-sized tortoise that struts and burrows about our xeric habits — be they interior sandy ridges or coastal dunes. In short, if you see prickly pear cactus in Florida, there’s a decent chance some Gopher tortoises are holed up nearby. I delight every time I’m graced with a Gopher tortoise encounter.

Nerodia rhombifer, 07 July 2007

Nerodia rhombifer, the Diamondback watersnake;
Cleveland county, Oklahoma (07 July 2007).

Though they don’t range southeast to the Florida peninsula, I truly do adore this big beefcake of a snake. This is the Diamondback watersnake, a non-venomous species quite common from my time in central Oklahoma. Of all the watersnakes I’ve worked with, N. rhombifer is easily the largest, strongest, and most attitudinal (to put it mildly). Though they are not aggressive in the slightest, they can be very, very defensive — and they can pack quite the punch. I’ve had many positively wild encounters with this species over the years.

Nerodia sipedon, 13 July 2019

Nerodia sipedon, the Northern watersnake;
Rutherford county, North Carolina (13 July 2019).

Hopping north of Florida, you’ll start to find yourself in the domain of the Northern watersnake, Nerodia sipedon. I’ve encountered this species in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, but it was this encounter in North Carolina that provided the best opportunity for some macro shots. If I had more budget and free time, I’d love to trek north just to spend a few months looking for Northern watersnakes.

Pantherophis guttatus, 09 May 2020

Pantherophis guttatus, the Red rat snake / Corn snake;
Volusia county, Florida (09 May 2020).

The Red rat snake, also known as the Corn snake, is a fairly common species in breeding and pet circles. They’re also one of the most striking and lovely of our native, wild species. Personally, there’s not much better than a vivid, bright corn snake slinking about the edges of our tangled scrub. I found this individual climbing a tree next to a creek line I was kayaking — a brilliant fury of orange and red backdropped by dark green and deep blue.

Nerodia floridana, 20 June 2007

Nerodia floridana, the Florida green watersnake;
Lake county, Florida (20 June 2007).

The Florida green watersnake is a large, non-venomous, native species rather common throughout Florida’s freshwater habitats. It prefers to bask in grasses, reeds, and detritus matted up on open water surfaces. They’re not as prone to basking on shore or in limbs overhanging the water, though they do both from time to time. Usually, they stay very low to the surface and simply slip down to escape any would-be predator from above.

Hyla cinerea, 06 June 2022

Hyla cinerea, the American green treefrog;
Volusia county, Florida (06 June 2022).

A bit of Kermit action with this one, right? This is a fairly classic American green treefrog hanging out one night in Ormond Beach, Florida. I don’t encounter this species as much as I used to when I was a kid, but there are still dense populations of them in the region. My hometown, Ormond Beach, is loaded with them — once you get outside of town, at least. Most of our neighborhoods have fallen to the Cuban tree frog (a large non-native species that likes to eat smaller tree frogs).

Coluber constrictor priapus, 18 August 2006

Coluber contrictor priapus, the Southern black racer;
Lake county, Florida (18 August 2006).

Perhaps the GOAT so far as residential snakes in Florida are concerned. Southern black racers are adept at scratching out a living in the sprawling, winding neighborhoods of peninsular Florida. It’s a fast, agile, alert, non-venomous, and mostly-diurnal species. Consequently, this is one of the most commonly observed species in central Florida, though they often see you coming long before you see them. When you see that streak of dark gray sliding away at the edge of your yard, odds are that was a racer earning its common name.

Eudocimus albus, 07 June 2013

Eudocimus albus, the American white ibis;
Lake county, Florida (07 June 2013).

What a fantastically awkward and magnificent species. If I had the creative skill needed, I’d do an edit of the kitchen scene in the first Jurassic Park movie with a couple of White ibis hunting for those kids, only they’d keep getting distracted and poke around the ground.

Calliactis tricolor, 22 May 2014

Calliactis tricolor, the Hitchhiking anemone;
Volusia county, Florida (22 May 2014).

The hitchhiking anemone is, as the name suggests, a fairly mobile species of anemone. Fairly small in stature, this species prefers to attach itself to more-mobile creatures such as mollusks and crabs. It is then carried around from here to there, reaping the rewards of more good eats along the way. Conversely, the Hitchhiking anemone also provides a bit of protection to its steward; it is capable of stinging would-be threats with a series of cnidocytes.

Nerodia taxispilota, 30 October 2016

Nerodia taxispilota, the Brown watersnake;
Levy county, Florida (30 October 2016).

One of my favorite shots of one of my favorite species. This is a fairly large Brown watersnake, a native, non-venomous, and entirely non-aggressive species quite abundant throughout Florida’s varied freshwater systems. Brown watersnakes tend to prefer darker, calmer waters. If there’s cypress around, for example, keep an eye out for basking Brown watersnakes!

Oliva sayana, 20 May 2014

Oliva sayana, the Lettered olive;
Volusia county, Florida (20 May 2014).

A lovely, little gastropod of Family Olividae, the Lettered olive is a predatory sea snail. It can be found mucking about the saturated sands, especially when the water is low. During low tide, they’ll slink about on the surface of the exposed beach, leaving a clear trail behind them.

Neverita duplicata, 23 May 2014

Neverita duplicata, the Shark eye sea snail;
Volusia county, Florida (23 May 2014).

Yeah, I have a favorite sea snail. It’s undoubtedly this one, the Shark eye sea snail. It’s an awesome mollusk with an awesome paint job and an awesome common name. Hell, even the latin name is awesome. Say it aloud and you’ll hear what I mean: “Neverita duplicata.” That’s not a name; that’s a spell!

Porpita porpita, 20 May 2014

Porpita porpita, the Blue button;
Volusia county, Florida (20 May 2014).

The Blue button is a small Hydrozoan Cnidarian that can be, at times, very abundant along our Volusia County shorelines. Not true jellyfish, many Hydrozoans are actually colony organisms — that is organisms that are better defined as colonies of organisms (hydroids) functioning together as unified biological systems. If you’ve ever heard of the potentially-painful Portuguese man o’ war, that is also a colonial Hydrozoan. The Blue button, which is fairly tiny in comparison, lacks the stinging potency of their larger, more inflated relatives. They are, for most people, benign to the touch, but some people may feel irritation where contact is made.

Scaphiopus holbrookii, 14 June 2017

Scaphiopus holbrookii, the Eastern spadefoot;
Volusia county, Florida (14 June 2017).

Despite being a fairly common species, the Eastern spadefoot is uncommonly observed. It spends much of its time hidden from surface view, buried a bit under loose soil and/or surface detritus. After a solid rain, however, they’ll often pop up out of the ground to conduct the business of surface life. During the latter half of the late 2010s, I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood with a robust population of spadefoot toads. I saw them frequently at night — shortly after a strong thunderstorm had passed.