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Beach Wildflowers

April 8th, 2022

Beach Wildflowers


Since spring has arrived in Florida, I thought that a look at a few of the wildflowers that can be found at the beach would be a nice subject for this month. Only certain plants can survive in the salt spray and intense wind of the high energy Atlantic Coast. These plants 'living on the edge' also often help prevent dune erosion and even help build dunes by slowing down or blocking blowing sand, causing it to build up new dunes.


Usually the closest plant to the water is railroad vine, which gets its name from the tendancy to grow out onto the beach in a straight line.

Ipomoea_pes-caprae_brasiliensis_4231.jpg Railroad vine growing out onto the beach


Railroad vine is one of the first plants to emerge after severe beach erosion. Because of this it is an important dune protection and restoration species. The other names for this morning-glory with the lavender flowers are goatsfoot, after the shape of the leaves, and bayhops for the fruit.

Ipomoea_pes-caprae_brasiliensis_2280.jpg Railroad vine flower


Another morning-glory of the seashore is beach morning glory which has white flowers and is usually farther up on the dunes from the ocean.

CRW_2231.jpg Beach morning glory



Another plant that sprouts from a buried seed bank soon after beach erosion, taking advantage of the lack of competition is sea rocket, named after the shape of the fruit.

Ca40627_500.jpg Searocket fruit

In the photo above fresh green fruit is on the left. On the right is the lower half of dried brown fruit. Both the upper and lower portions of the fruit contain seeds. The top half breaks off and travels to another location while the lower half remains to reseed the area where the existing plant is.

Cakile_edentula_harperi_9312.jpg Searocket flowers


There are two species of searocket in Florida, (coastal searocket) and Cakile edentula var. harperi (American, or Harper's searocket). They are very difficult to tell apart, although American searocket is only found in Florida along the Atlantic coast from St. Lucie County north while coastal searocket is found on most of Florida's coast being mainly absent from the Big Bend area.

Cakile_edentula_harperi_9284.jpg 



Moving up the beach the next showy wildflower is often dune sunflower. There are separate east and west coast subspecies, plus a subspecies that is also found inland called the Cucumberleaf dune sunflower.

Helianthus_debilis_debilis_2244.jpg East coast dune sunflower


Also called beach sunflower, all three subspecies have yellow petals surrounding a dark reddish-purple center disk.

Helianthus_debilis_debilis_2233.jpg East coast dune sunflowers on the beach


Both the east and west coast dune sunflowers tend to be sprawling, ascending only at the tips of the branches. This low-profile is a popular survival growth pattern with coastal plants.



Another common wildflower found on the dunes with the beach morning-glory and dune sunflower is coastalplain goldenaster (Chrysopsis scabrella). There are 14 species and subspecies of Chrysopsis in Florida and this one is aptly named coastalplain goldenaster since it is found in the southeastern coastal plain from Mississippi to the Carolinas.

Chrysopsis_scabrella_3408.jpg Coastalplain goldenaster flowers


Another yellow-petaled flower, the goldenasters have yellow to orange disks, unlike the dark disks of the dune sunflowers. This goldenaster has a single lower stem, branching in the upper part of the plant to multiple terminal flowers.

Chrysopsis_scabrella_3396.jpg Coastalplain goldenaster flower


Chrysopsis_scabrella_3403.jpg Coastalplain goldenaster flower side view



So when you visit the beach this year, keep an eye out for these plants, but remember, please stay off the dunes which can be easily damaged. The plant life helps protect the shoreline from erosion during noreasters, tropical storms and other high tide events.



Clicking on any of the links or images above will take you to the Wild Florida Photo page for that species where you can find more information about and photos of that subject.



Paul Rebmann

April 7, 2022

Smoky Mountains Redux

March 7th, 2022

Smoky Mountains Redux


Decades ago when I lived and worked in Knoxville as a radio broadcast engineer I spent some time (but not enough) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Last spring I returned to the Smoky Mountains with my best friend Daniel and my brother Bob who offered to introduce Daniel & I to trout fishing in the mountain streams. After one night of car camping, we backpacked up to a backcountry campsite for several nights in the national park.


This trip was not all camping and trout fishing, although surprizingly I did hook and land my first rainbow trout which as an added bonus was a keeper(over the minimum size limit). Added to the fish Bob caught, we had a delicious trout dinner in camp. While in the mountains walking the trails, rock-hopping up the streams and around camp I photographed a number of various nature subjects, a few of which I will share here.

Big Creek Boulders Big Creek Boulders



Near our first campsite along Big Creek there was a huge shelf fungus on a tree. This appears to be Dryad's saddle, one of the shelf fungi. A dryad is a mythical wood-nymph, and it is easy to imagine one sitting on one of these fungi.

Dryad's saddle Dryad's saddle



Another large bracket fungus that I came across while walking the streamside trails was hemlock varnish shelf.

Hemlock varnish shelf Hemlock varnish shelf



Some of the varnish shelf fungi were occupied not by dryads but by pleasing fungus beetles, several of which were seen both on the fungi and the chunks of bark that were also on the ground next to the tree.

Pleasing fungus beetle Pleasing fungus beetle


Possibly these beetles are pleasing because they are so colorful? They are found on various hard bracket fungi in eastern North America from the northern half of Florida to southern Ontario and Quebec.



There was a pretty little shiny beetle on a rhododendron bush between the creek and camp. This appears to be a member of the Chrysomelidae - leaf beetles family. It looks very similar to one of the Altica genus of metalic flea beetles.

Leaf beetle Leaf beetle - metallic flea beetle?



One day I was noticed a snail on the trail. This terrestrial snail seems to be a white-lip globe snail. These terrestial snails can be found throughout the eastern United States in river floodplains, wetlands and limestone ledges.

White-lip globe snail White-lip globe snail



Since it was spring in the mountians, there were wildflowers, incuding golden ragwort, with prominent yellow flowers growing along the streams and trails.

Golden ragwort Golden ragwort


Golden ragwort is typically found in floodplains and ranges from north Florida into Canada.



Another yellow wildflower seen was blisterwort - Ranunculus recurvatus - also called hooked buttercup.

Blisterwort Blisterwort or hooked buttercup


Like the golden ragwort, these buttercups also favor wet habitats such as where this plant was, alongside a mountain stream called Big Creek. Like a number of the buttercup species, this plant is toxic when fresh and can irritate the skin, leading to the common name blisterwort.



Feathery false Solomon's seal is a wildflower that I am familiar with from previous spring hikes in the Appalachian mountains. Also called feathery false lily of the valley and simply false Solomon seal, this plant can be found from one county in the Florida panhandle northward throughout both the eastern and western United States and into Canada.

Feathery false Solomon's seal Feathery false Solomon's seal



One of the last plants that I photographed on this hike was not even in bloom, but still identifiable by its distinctive leaves as a terrestrial orchid called downy rattlesnake plantain. Like the false Solomon seal, Liberty County in the panhandle is the only place in Florida that it is found, although it ranges throughout the eastern United States and into Ontario and Quebec.

Downy rattlesnake plantain Downy rattlesnake plantain



I photographed a number of other plants and animals during this Smoky Mountain visit, but all of those featured here can also be found in some part of Florida, the setting for most of my nature exploration and photography.



Paul Rebmann

Feb. 28, 2022

Look back at 2021

December 5th, 2021

Look back at 2021

Best of 2021


For my end of year blog post, I thought I would review my six favorites of the images made this year and posted for sale.



I admit that I am partial to the native green anoles in my photography, but I was so pleased with the background and lighting on this brown anole that I decided to feature this image that I captured of the little reptile on the deck at the house.

Brown Anole by Paul Rebmann
More info on Brown anole, Anolis sagrei.



A spring family camping trip at O'Leno State Park gave me the opportunity to hike to and photograph the resurgence of the Santa Fe River in the nearby River Rise Preserve State Park. The river disappears underground three miles upstream in O'Leno State Park before resurfacing to resume its surface flow to the Suwanee River.

Santa Fe River Rise by Paul Rebmann
More infs on the Santa Fe River.



While canoeing the Santa Fe River above the sink at O'Leno State Park, I observed one of the half dozen species of pennywort, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, floating marshpennywort. Soon after returning home I noticed that the largeleaf pennywort in the yard was in bloom. Many people know this as the lawn weed called dollarweed. While I do love the native plants in my home landscape, I do find the pennywort particularly agressive, and do not hesitate to pull it up where it is not wanted. I did take the opportunity to get some photogrpahs of the lovely umbels of flowers.

Pennywort Flowers by Paul Rebmann
More info on largeleaf pennywort.



The next two photogrpahs were made the same day in a city park along one of my regular bicycle routes. The first is a pink water lily flower rising above the leaves, or lily pads in a pond. I am fairly sure that these are hairy water lilies, a species frequently used in landscape ponds that may be pink or white. These are also sometimes called pink lotus.

Pink Water Lily by Paul Rebmann
More info on hairy water lily.



The bees were busy on and around the water lily flowers and I caught this honey bee flying in towards the rich pollen source at the center of this lily, which happened to be all white.

Bee Approach by Paul Rebmann
More info on honey bees.



On the evening of September 15, 2021 four civilian astronauts were launched into orbit in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a Falcon rocket from Florida's space coast. This launch occurred just as it was getting dark and people all around central Florida were treated to the 'jellyfish' effect after the rocket reached a high enough altitude to once again be in the light of the setting sun. This is my favorite of the images from the beach at Ormond by the Sea. I thought it looked like a fish.

Inspiration4 Sky Fish by Paul Rebmann
More info on the Inspiration 4 launch.



Click on any of the images above to purchase the image in any format online at paul-rebmann.piels.com. Click on the More Info link to go to Wild Florida Photo for more detailed infomration and other images of that subject.



Paul Rebmann

December 5, 2021

Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids

December 2nd, 2021

Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids


At 3:31 am on Sunday August 12, the Parker Solar Probe was launched on a Delta Heavy rocket. Getting up extra early for the second day in a row, as the previous launch attempt was scrubbed, I captured the launch from Ormond by the Sea. This photograph was made using a long exposure of just over five and a half minutes.


Parker_solar_launch_4782ca.jpg
Parker Solar Probe Launch


The lighted buildings are in Daytona Beach and the small bright light just to the left of these buildings and to the right of the rocket trail is the Ponce Inlet light house. The two lights below the arc of the rocket were fishing vessels. The one that is a line was moving more perpendicular to my line of sight, and the other that showed up as more of a bright dot was more directly approaching or receding from my viewpoint. One star in this field of view was bright enough to leave a star trail on the image. I think that this star was Vela.



After the launch, I stayed up experimenting with photographing the Perseids meter shower which was peaking this same weekend. One of those meteor images can be seen here.



PerseidsMeteor_Orion_5179.jpg
Perseids Meteor and Orion



At 4:21am a bright fiery object passed overhead. Since I was set up for capturing meteors in that part of the sky, I managed to take eight 2-second long exposures that showed this flaming light. At first I thought that this was the third stage burn for the Parker solar probe, but that actually occurred about 11 minutes earlier, and I later found out way above earth orbit. Since both the second and third stages left earth orbit, and the first stage was unlikely to last that long, it does not seem that it would have been any of the spent rocket stages de-obiting. The only other thing I can think it could be was a very long lasting slow meteor fireball.



Here is a stacked composite image of the eight photographs that I made while this light passed in front of the constellation Orion.

20180812fireball.jpg
Perseids Fireball and Orion



And here is a video created from a series of those same eight photographs spaced out in time to match when they were taken and the length of the exposures.



Paul Rebmann
Aug. 29, 2018

Reunite the Rivers

October 20th, 2021

Reunite the Rivers


Now is the time for action to reunite the Great Florida Waterway.


The Great Florida Waterway is made up of the Silver Springs, Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers.


The Great Florida Waterway is interupted in the middle by the Kirkpatrick Dam and Rodman Reervoir. These remnants of the long abandoned project to build the Cross-Florida Barge Canal disrupt the natural flow of the Great Florida Riverway and causes ecological harm in many forms.

FL_EurekaLock_4073.jpg Eureka Lock


During multiple periods in Florida's history various interests have desired to build a canal to short-cut across the Florida peninsula, avoiding the hazards - from weather, pirates or wartime enemies - of rounding the southern tip of the state through the Florida Straits. After several previous false starts, in the early 1960's a major step was taken on a canal project with the construction of a dam across the Ockalawaha River that created the Rodman Reservoir. Within a decade the cross-Florida barge canal project had been cancelled, largely due to concerns about the excessive envirnomoental impact that would result from completion of the canal. However the dam and reservoir on the Ocklawaha River have remained for over a half century.


Now the aging dam is in danger of failing, which would be devastating for the area of the lower Ocklawaha and the people living downstream along the St. Johns River, including Welaka. Since many people and organizations have advocated for the removal of the reservoir and returning the Ocklawaha to a free-flowing river, the St. Johns River Water Mangement District is currently (through 5pm Fri. Oct. 22, 2021) soliciting public input on the future of the river, dam and reservoir with a short four-question online survey at https://floridaswater.formstack.com/forms/rodman


A coalition of environmental, recreational and business organizations have joined together in an effort to Reunite the Rivers. These organizations are advocating for the fiscally and enviromentally responsible solution of breaching the earthen portion of the dam where the original river channel was and allowing the river to flow freely and return to its natural water levels. One of the benefits would be the uncovering of multiple springs including Canon Springs which I photographed during one of the reservoir drawdowns.

FL_CannonSpring_4032.jpg Cannon Springs


These drawdowns of the artifical lake have been required every couple of years for aquatic plant management of hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), water hyacith (Eichhornia crassipes), coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) and eelgrass (Vallisneria americana).
During the drawdowns the drowned forest is exposed along the sides of the original river channel.

FL_RodmanRes_3498.jpg Reflections of a Drowned Forest


Breaching the dam will restore safe passage for manatees to travel up to Silver Springs in the winter and for all types of fish to naturally migrate during their life cycles upstream and downstream between the Ocklawaha and the St. Johns.


This photograph was made on one of the oxbows along the natural section of the Ocklawaha River between the Silver River and Eureka. In this image you are looking both upstream on the left and downstream on the right.

FL_Ocklawaha_6228r.jpg Ocklawaha Oxbow


Below shows spanish moss-laden cypress trees in the winter topped with many white ibis along where the Ocklawaha River joins the St. Johns.

Ocklawaha_ibis_trees_6346.jpg Winter Ibis Trees



For an extensive and unbiased history of the Florida canal, I recommend "Ditch of Dreams" by Steven Noll and David Tegeder.

You may also want to check out these pages at Wild Florida Photo:

Ocklawaha River,

Rodman Reservoir Drawdown,

or the March 2015 Paul Rebmann Nature Photography blog post about the Ocklawaha River,

or watch the video "Lost Springs of the Ocklawaha River".



And don't forget to give your feedback before Oct. 23 at https://floridaswater.formstack.com/forms/rodman



Paul Rebmann

October 4, 2021

2021 Billboard Contest

August 17th, 2021


I have three entries in the 2021 Pixels/Fine Art America Billboard Contest.


My most popular photograph - Heading Out To Sea

HeadingOutToSea.jpg

Fine Art America link to vote for Heading Out To Sea


Another highly popular of my images - Cooter on Alligator Log

Cooter_onLog_16x9.jpg

Fine Art America link to vote for Cooter on Alligator Log


And because I thought there should be a wildflower - Celestial Lily

Nemastylis_floridana_7133a.jpg

Fine Art America link to vote for Celestial Lily



All votes appreciated, and if you are only voting for one and cannot make up your mind, my choice is Celestial Lily.


Voting requires a Pixels or Fine Art America login, or you can login to vote using Facebook.
I am fairly sure voting will be open all of August, and it may continue until Sept. 15.



Paul Rebmann

August 17, 2021

Backyard and Bicycle Botany during Quarantine

May 19th, 2020

Backyard and Bicycle Botany during Quarantine


Stay at home orders and self-quarantine to prevent the spread of Coronavirus has disrupted everyone's routines this spring.
Virginia & I were lucky in that our family spring camping trip to Paynes Prairie State Park was the week before all the Florida state parks closed and self-quarantines were implemented.
Now group meetings are being done online and trips to the gym are replaced with walks on the beach and bicycle rides.
However, this does not preclude either botanizing or photography, both of which I have been able to indulge in during these unusual times.
First a look at a few of the cool and not so cool plants that I have photographed around the yard during the past two months.


The bees alerted me that the yaupon holly was blooming. The tiny flowers are easily overlooked, and I probably would have done so if it had not been for the heavy traffic of pollinators heading in and out of our lone yaupon tree. Finally a morning with relatively light winds allowed for some close ups of the female flowers.



 Yaupon holly, female flower


I don't know where the nearest male yaupon plant is, but apparently it is close enough as we have had berries on our yaupon tree in previous years.



Another native plant in the yard is a pretty sprawling ground cover known as powderpuff. This year the powderpuffs seemed to be particularly prolific.



 Powderpuff flowers rising above the feathery leaves


Mimosa strigillosa is one of the five Florida Mimosa species, all having pink flowers in globular clusters and pinnately compound leaves. Also called sunshine mimosa it does not have prickles, unlike the otherwise similar sensitive-briars.



Rain showers triggered some copper lily blooms the following day.



 Copper lily flower


These rain lilys are native to Brazil, not Florida, but still a pleasant sight at this time of year. Very similar-looking to the native rain lily or atamasco lily that are found in north Florida.



One day I discovered a highly invasive plant in the corner of the yard next to the power pole. It was Sprenger's asparagus fern which I am sure grew from seeds dispersed by plants that used to be in a neighbor's landscape.



 Sprenger's asparagus fern flowers


After photographing the flowers, I dug up the plant, photographed the roots showing their bulbules and disposed of it.
In case you were wondering who Sprenger was, he was a German botanist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was partner in a Naples (Italy, not Florida) horticultural house and popularized the use of this South African plant in Europe.



Bicycling for excersise also provided botanical opportunities. This native plant is Virginia pepperweed, and it was one of the many little wildflowers along the A1A portion of the Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail.



 Virginia pepperweed, immature fruit, a flower and buds


I have often noticed pepperweed in various locations, but usually after it has finished flowering and the distinctive fruit have matured.



Along the North Peninsula State Park section of the A1A trail was beach morning glory, which is also found on the dunes.



 Beach morning-glory and bur clover


This is just one of the many morning-glory species that can be found in Florida.



A large area of the right-of-way was covered by a low-growing plant having tiny yellow fowers (also visible in the morning glory image above).



 Burr clover flowers and burr-like fruit


I found out that this is called Burr clover for the burr-like fruit that somewhat resembled large sand spurs.



Bicycling on the local neighborhood streets revealed a very small dayflower in a lawn. The tiny blue flowers are only open in the morning, and close by mid-day.



 Common dayflower


This one is called common dayflower - Commelina diffusa var. diffusa - and is not native to North America although it is now found in much of the eastern United States.



On another street someone had a large angel's trumpet shrub in their yard.



 Angel's trumpet


This ornamental plant is native to Brazil and surrounding areas of South America and has escaped from cultivation in a few places in Florida and also Puerto Rico.



Clicking on any of the links or images above will take you to the Wild Florida Photo page for that species where you can find more information about and photos of that subject.



Paul Rebmann

May 19, 2020

Florida Pawpaws Part One

March 16th, 2020

Florida Pawpaws Part One


For me one of the highlights of a Florida spring is the appearance of pawpaw blooms. Pawpaws are members of the Annonaceae family, the custard-apples. There are currently a dozen known species of Asimina (the pawpaw genus) in the sunshine state plus at least a half dozen naturally occuring hybrids. This and future posts will each feature several of these interesting plants.


Typically the earliest blooming Asimina is the smallflower pawpaw with the maroon flowers appearing first in February and continuing through April. Like all of the 'true' pawpaws, the flowers have two series of dissimilar petals, with the inner petals having a saccate (pouched or bag-like) base, and a peduncle (flower stalk) with small bracts. In Asimina parviflora the flower is less than an inch wide with a fetid smell and a peduncle less than a half inch long, sometimes so short that the flower appears to be attached directly to the stem. Smallflower pawpaw flowers have petals that are recurved outwards at the tip, the outer petals tyically curving back upon themselves. The inner petals are about half the size of the outer and are smooth inside at the base. There are usually three inner and threee outer petals in this species.

This smallflower pawpaw was photographed in Riverbend Park in Ormond Beach.

 Smallflower pawpaw


Smallflower pawpaw can be found mostly in wet hammocks in much of Florida north of Lake Ockeechobee and in the southeastern coastal states from Virginia to Texas, plus Arkansas. Growing up to 20 feet tall, it is basically a smaller version of the better known common pawpaw.



Common pawpaw - Asimina triloba - is also called dog banana or Indian banana and only occurs in Florida in five non-coastal central panhandle counties. This has the widest distribution of any of the pawpaws, found in mesic woodlands throughout much of the eastern United States west into Texas to Nebraska and north into Ontario. Common pawpaw is also the largest of the pawpaws, growing up to 46 feet tall. The flowers are very similar in color and form to smallflower pawpaw, but slightly larger at one to two inches wide.

This pawpaw was photographed last April in Tennessee's Cove Lake State Park at the Bruce Gap trailhead where I started backpacking a section of the Cumberland Trail.

 Common pawpaw

Pawpaw fruit is edible, and the common pawpaw is the one most frequently consumed.



Blooming almost as early as smallflower pawpaw is the netted, or flatwoods, pawpaw with the flowers appearing on the previous year's growth, often before or with the appearance of the current season's leaves. Asimina reticulata is a much smaller plant at less than 5 feet tall, most often 2-3 feet tall, with larger flowers than A. parviflora. Netted pawpaw flowers are creamy-white with the outer petals spreading and the inner petals curving inward. The inside of the inner petals have a purple corrugated base. The leaves are much paler underneath than on top.

I photographed this netted pawpaw on March 1 this year in a pasture at the Lake Monroe Conservation Area.

 Netted pawpaw


Netted pawpaw is one of the most common and widespread pawpaws in Florida, found mostly in flatwwods and sandhills thoughout much of the Florida peninsula except for the Everglades and the Keys. They are also found in Hamilton County, Florida and southeast Georgia. The photo at the beginning of this post shows the fruit of a netted pawpaw plant. The fruit of other species of pawpaws appear similar, varying mostly in size.



All pawpaws are host plants for zebra swallowtail butterflies and the Asimina webworm moth.

 zebra swallowtail last stage caterpillar on Rugel's pawpaw leaf

 Pawpaw leaf peeled open to show pawpaw leaf-rolling caterpillar

One might think that these two different Lepidoptera would compete for food, but apparently they have a facilitative relationship. Zebra swallowtail larvae need young fresh leaves and the defoliation by the pawpaw leaf-rolling caterpillars in the summer stimulate new leaf growth, providing the needed fresh leaves for the late season zebra swallowtails.



Clicking on any of the links or images above will take you to the Wild Florida Photo page for that species where you can find more information about and photos of that subject.



Paul Rebmann

March 16, 2020

Best of 2019

January 20th, 2020

Best of 2019


I thought that I would start out the new year by showing you some of my favorite photographs from places that I visited over the past year. Looking back it was a very active and enjoyable year, starting with New Year's camping at Collier-Seminole State Park. New Year's morning found me photographing a strikingly beautiful oceanblue morning-glory in the campground, followed by Virginia and I paddling down the lovely mangrove-lined Blackwater Creek to Mud Bay and back.

 Oceanblue Morning-glory



Later in January, I hiked a new section of the Florida Trail in the Lake Lizzie Conservation Area in advance of the official celebration and ribbon cutting. During my first visit, I made the photograph "Lake Lizzie Marsh" from the observation deck just off the trail. On the day of the ribbon-cutting I participated in the group hike as the naturalist guide.

 Lake Lizzie Marsh


I had desired to see the magotes of Cuba ever since I first read about them in "The Cruise of the Tomas Barrera", a book my John B. Henderson detailing a scientific expedition to Cuba in 1914. Magotes are isolated hills surrounded by flat plains, usually round and steep-sided made up of limestone or other rock. I did not get to visit any magotes close-up during my visit to Cuba last February, but I did get to see them in the distance while travelling through the country. On one of the bicycling days I stopped in the countryside to make this scenic photo of magotes and royal palms under a partly cloudy sky.

 Cuba Landscape


Although I knew that a walk through a cave was on the agenda for the Cuba tour, my expectations were low. Having explored some of the finest wild caverns in Tennessee, Kentucky and even Florida it takes more than just a hole in the ground with a few stalactities to impress me. But Cueva de Santa Catalina did just that with its various passages and numerous variety of speleothems (cave formations). The most remarkable ones were the speleothems in the shape of giant mushrooms, which are unique to caves in this area of Cuba. There were many large ones like in the photo at the top of this post, but one of the prettiest was this short, squat one with a peaked top.

 Cave Mushroom



My next adventure was backpacking the Ocala National Forest at the end of March. Part of that hike, around Hopkins Prairie was the subject of my blog last July. My favorite photo from that hike was an early morning image of a lone slash pine along the edge of the prairie.

 Slash Pine at Hopkins Prairie



The following month I embarked on a longer and much more challenging backpacking adventure on the Cumberland Trail in Tennessee with Daniel Reed. Not counting the blurred images of a wild razorback hog charging past us on the trail, the photographic highlight of that hike was a pink lady's slipper orchid.

 Pink Lady's Slipper



May brought the annual Florida Native Plant Society state conference and its field trips. One of these was a kayak paddle led by Lars Anderson of Adventure Outpost in High Springs. This trip started on the Withlacochee River and took us upstream through Gum Slough to Gum Springs.

 Gum Spring


As a side note while I was in Crystal River for the FNPS conference, I got some photos of a group of wild hogs that had come out of the woods along the highway right of way. It was starting to seem like 2019 was the year of the hog.



Late summer found Virginia and I camping at Jackrabbit Mountain in North Carolina. There at night a mostly dark sky above Lake Chatuge marred only by a bit too much light to the south from nearby Hiawassee, Georgia was a pretty view of the Milky Way and Jupiter.

 Milky Way and Jupiter


That camping trip was cut short so that we could return to prepare for the approach of Hurricane Dorian which threatened Florida but stayed just far enough off the coast so as to have minor effects in our area other than the disruption of evacuation.



In October a family vacation took us to Lido Key on the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota. There I was able to get some better photographs of buttonwood flowers. I also found both species of the Scaevola genus that occur in Florida, the threatened beachberry and the invasive Beach naupaka. But the photographic highlight of that trip came while walking the beach where a reddish egret was feeding. I captured this image of it running away from the gulls after catching a small fish.

 Reddish Egret with Fish


In early December I kayaked the Suwannee River from Stephen Foster State Park to Suwannee River State Park with Paul Haydt. I had paddled this section a number of times in both a kayak and canoe, but always before it was broken up into separate two day, one night trips with the start or end point at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. This time it was a 3-1/2 day, three night trip and each morning the temperature was in the low 30's. One day we paddled by this interesting cypress tree on the bank having a short large hollow broken trunk with much younger and smaller growth that was now golden with its fall colors illuminated by the afternoon sun.

 Persistent Cypress


The final photograph of the year that I will share here is of the St. Marks lighthouse south of Tallahassee. This lighthouse is located on Apalachee Bay near the mouth of the St. Marks River in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which I visited that day mainly for bird photography, highlights of which were a vermillion flycatcher that was barely in range of my 300mm lens and some buffleheads just offshore near the lighthouse.

 St. Marks Lighthouse


Paul Rebmann
Jan. 18, 2020

Chertok Photo Contest

January 7th, 2020

Chertok Photo Contest

Every year the Orange Audubon Society conducts the Kit & Sidney Chertok Florida Native Nature Photography Contest. The contest is named for the Chertoks who moved to Orlando in 1985. Sidney Chertok had numerous skills and interests during his life, being an electrical engineer, patent holder, director of information services and also advertising and promotion for Sprague Electric Company. He was also a reporter and photographer, with a particular interest in nature subjects. Mr. Chertok edited a photo-filled calendar for 34 years featuring images solicited by competition. Kit Chertok, an Orange Audubon board member in the 1990's, was instrumental in establishing this photo contest in her husband's memory to encourage nature photography in others. The contest mission statement reads: "To promote interest and concern for preserving the native fauna and flora of Florida, and to encourage nature photography and enjoyment and appreciation of our natural wonders." Participants in the contest include Audubon members and others interested in nature photography, with separate categories for youth, novice & advanced photographers since 2011. Previously the categories changed from year to year, usually separated by subject matter. Orange Audubon serves the Orlando area and submitted photos are from throughout Florida.


View online purchase options for Don’t Mess With My Chicks by Paul RebmannDon't Mess With My Chicks


I won my first Chertok award in 2007 for the image "Don't Mess With My Chicks" (see my March "Great Horned Owls" blog post for more about that image), which placed third in the Florida's Birds! category. I took two awards in 2009, with "Heading Out to Sea" of a loggerhead sea turtle hatching winning first place in the Beyond Birds! category and the Black Skimmers adult and chick image titled "Homer & Bart" (shown here in my 'selfie' with a big print on display at this year's awards ceremony) receiving an honorable mention in Florida's Avian Wonders!. In 2009 my extreme close-up of "Small Butterwort" won an honorable mention in the category Florida Invertebrates and/or Wildflowers. My "Pine Lily and Pines" from Tiger Bay State Forest earned and honorable mention in the 2012 Chertok contest Advanced class.


View online purchase options for Heading Out To Sea by Paul RebmannHeading Out To Sea


Gallery of Award Winning images by Paul Rebmann

This year (2014) I was asked to be one of the judges for the 26th annual contest. The other judges were Marina Scarr, photographer and Carolyn A. Cohen, watercolors and etchings artist. In 2013 Marina won both first and second place in the advanced category of this contest and in 2012 took third place. The winners were announced Thursday evening, June 19 at an awards dinner at Leu Gardens. After the contest committee had culled out the disqualified entries (images cannot contain humans, human structures or artifacts or non-natives), the three of us spent most of a Sunday viewing the over 350 entries and selecting those worthy of the top three awards in each category, plus honorable mentions. We were particularly impressed by a number of the entries in the youth category, several expressing some 'out-of-the-box' thinking that produced some successful results. The 2014 winners can be viewed, along with winners from previous years at Orange Audubon's website.

Paul Rebmann
June 22, 2014

2018 Update: "Bee Fly on Roseling" won Honorable Mention in the Orange Audubon Society's 2018 (30th Annual) Kit and Sidney Chertok Florida Native Nature Photography Contest. The image shows an extreme close-up of a Poecilognathus bee fly on an endemic Florida scrub roseling flower.


Bee Fly on Roseling by Paul Rebmann


Also, my photograph of a Golden-silk Spider hanging from her web won Honorable Mention in the Advanced category of Orange Audubon Society's 2015 Chertok Nature Photography contest.


Golden-silk Spider by Paul Rebmann

 

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