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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


Fine Art America link to vote for Heading Out To Sea

Another highly popular of my images - Cooter on Alligator Log


Fine Art America link to vote for Cooter on Alligator Log

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


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

Havana 500 and Street Art

November 9th, 2019

Havana 500 and Street Art

This month marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, Cuba. Spanish conquistadors held mass and the first city council meeting under a ceiba tree on November 16, 1519 creating La villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana. The ceiba tree is more commonly known as the kapoktree in English speaking countries. The scientific binomial name is Ceiba pentandra and another common name is white silk cotton tree for the silky fluff surrounding the seeds in the fruit of this tree. This silky fluff is also known as kapok and was frequently used as the flotation substance in life jackets before synthetic replacements were created. Ceiba trees are fast-growing and large with substantial root buttresses. A 2001 Orlando Sentinel article addressed the tradition and importance of the ceiba tree to Cubans. More information about and photos of these trees can be found at Wild Florida Photo.

 ceiba tree in Havana

Although my primary photographic focus is nature, I like to branch out into other genres especially when traveling. This was certainly the case when Virginia & I visited Cuba early this year. Like nearly everyone else that goes to Cuba I did photograph some old cars & trucks during our visit, while always keeping an eye out for other interesting subjects.

Some of these sights that caught my eye and lens included the grafitti, murals, signs and other street art that can be seen on the walls around Havana. In this isolated country, nearly all of the billboards and other large signs are what would be considered government propaganda. These seemed to be mostly intended to remind the people of the heroes and acheivements of the revolution. In the case of our visit (in 2019) many signs were also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the revolution or the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, or encouraging a Si (Yes) vote on the constitution in the election that was held the Sunday after we left. In case you are wondering, the new Cuban constitution passed with a Yes vote of over 90%. Some of the highlights of this constitution include recognition of private property, age and term limits for the president, presumption of innocence and right to legal counsel, a ban on discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability and removal of the restriction that marriage be between one man and one woman.

Enough political science, now back to photography.

One of the first murals that I came across just down the street from our room was a very colorful celebration of Havana's 500th anniversary (see the thumbnail at the beginning of this post). This apparently had been painted in Sept 2018 by the artist aolivera. The slogan "lo más grande" basically translates to "the biggest thing" or "the grandest thing".

The next morning while looking for a place to get a cup of coffee, I came upon a building that had a beveled corner that faced an intersection of two small city streets. That face of the building had an apple painted on it surrounding a faded painting of a Cuban flag under a window. The 'bite' in the apple bypassed an air conditioner sticking through the wall.

View online purchase options for Cuban Apple by Paul Rebmann
 Cuban apple mural

Around the corner of this building to the left of the above mural was a wire sculpture embedded in the wall. I saw it as a feminine figure in profile, kneeling and leaning backwards with the sun (or moon?) to the upper right, and below a pair of hands that appear to be trying to break through a crack in the wall. Virginia pointed out before I realized it, that the "woman" is the shape of Cuba. Looking at it that way, the hands are emerging from Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth - known as the Isle of Pines until 1978).

View online purchase options for CubaWoman on Wall by Paul Rebmann
 Cubawoman on wall

The wall to the right of the apple art was a mural of a woman with hair that morphed into electrical wires facing a bird on a plant.

View online purchase options for Havana Mural by Paul Rebmann
 mural of a woman's head, bird and plant

A lot of buildings in old Havana simply have a street number painted next to or over the door. At one building, the street number was surrounded by some simple facial caricatures. I wonder if these represent the occupants of the building?

View online purchase options for Faces at 207 by Paul Rebmann
 faces and street number 207

Now we come to the first of the gaffiti art that I found on the streeta of Havana. Our local guide translated "No hay Cámeo" as "there are no brains". The work is signed by the graffiti artist MrSad26.

View online purchase options for No hay Cameo by Paul Rebmann
 No hay Cámeo

Near Parque Christo we walked down a side street between construction sites on boards laid down to help us stay above the standing water, which in old Havana was often tainted with sewage. Where the street opened up again there were these two large works of graffiti. The first was the words "Creativos Unidos", which translates to Creative United, and in the center was a woman walking with a paintbrush and paint bucket.

View online purchase options for Creativos Unidos by Paul Rebmann
 Creativos Unidos

The second, nearby work was the word "Krepy" with very elaborate letters.

View online purchase options for Krepy by Paul Rebmann

Along one of the busier streets (for pedestrians) in old Havana was this mural. The entire slogan in the banner is "Con la Guardid - en Aito", in English this is "With the Guard - not Genuine".

View online purchase options for Con la Guardid by Paul Rebmann
 Con la Guardid

The final mural I will show you was not actually on the street, but in the entranceway into an elementary school. Also, this is probably mass reproduced and I an guessing that it is seen in many schools in Cuba. It shows Jose Marti, a Cuban national hero for his efforts leading to Cuban independance from Spain in the 1800's, along with three of the leaders of the more recent Cuban revolution - Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro - plus the boat named Granma that they used to return to Cuba from exile in Mexico in 1956.

View online purchase options for Cuban Revolutionaries by Paul Rebmann
 Cuban Revolutionaries

Continuing with this bit of Cuban history, the boat Granma is now on display in a military museum in Havana.

Granma in museum Granma in museum

More Cuban murals and sculptures can be seen in my earlier Matanzas Cuba blog post.

Paul Rebmann
Nov. 9, 2019

Backpacking Hopkins Prairie

November 9th, 2019

Backpacking Hopkins Prairie

I have backpacked different parts of the Florida Trail from the Rodman Dam to Clearwater Lake in the Ocala National Forest on several occasions, but there was a section between Salt Springs and Juniper Springs that I had never done. This March I closed this gap during a three day backpacking outing. Some of this hike covered parts of the Florida Trail in the Juniper Wilderness that I had done on two separate day hikes 22 years earlier. Another part of this year's hike was around Hopkins Prairie, which I had not visited before this.

After a relaxing pre-hike car-camp night at Juniper Springs campground with Virginia, I parked my car and she dropped me off where the trail crosses Salt Springs Highway(314). Unlike the time when I started from there hiking north to the Rodman Dam, I instead headed southbound. The trail here passes through several different habitats, one of which was some really pretty sandhills.

 Trail in sandhills

One of the things I like about sandhills is the wide spacing of trees and the forest floor of mostly grasses and wildflowers. After about four hours of hiking with many pauses to photograph various subjects, I reached the prairie just in time to see a Northern Harrier cruising above the grasses and occassionally swooping down after something to eat. I set up camp (photo at top) in a small peninsula between the trail and the prairie under some slash pines. Around the next curve in the trail was this lone slash pine that I photographed in the morning.

 Slash Pine at Hopkins Prairie

While I ate my dinner I enjoyed a seranade of sandhill crane calls across the prairie. As dusk approached a soft buzzing sound slowly increased in volume and a dense layer of mosquitoes appeared above my head. When they started landing on the tent and my gear I quickly prepared camp for the night and ducked into my tent, where the constant buzzing reminded me of sleeping in a canoe in the everglades years ago. I went to sleep to a chorus of what sounded like bullfrogs, although I could not be sure that they were not alligators grunting, which made me think of William Bartram's story of camping on Dexter Point along the St. Johns River in 1774.

 Morning at Hopkins Prairie Pond

As the lightening sky signaled the approach of dawn, I emerged from the tent with my camera to see what sights the morning would bring. One of these was the mist rising from the little pond by the trail where I got my water. Not an ideal source since the 'frog water' - as one passing hiker called it - required filtering through a cloth before treating. Also at this pond I photographed the diminuative quillwort arrowhead wildflower.

 Quillwort arrowhead flower

Hopkins Prairie is about three miles long and varies from about one quarter to a half mile wide with the Florida Trail following the north and east edges of the prairie for about five miles. Despite the name, this natural community is probably more like a basin marsh than a typical wet prairie. On one side of the trail is the prairie and on the other side the habitats varied between hardwood hammocks, various mixed wooded areas and scrub. As I was hiking past one of these scrub areas a family of Florida scrub jays were moving through the trees along the trail and dropping down to the ground to forage. A pair of brown thrashers and a male cardinal were also here and seemed to be hanging out with the scrub jays.

 Hopkins Prairie and Clouds

Not far from where I saw the scrub jays I photographed a mall patch of pretty little yellow wildflowers known as rock-rose. Also called pinebarren frostweed, Crocanthemum corymbosum is a perennial herb of scrub, sandhills, dunes and dry open hammocks in the southeastern coastal states from Mississippi to North Carolina and throughout much of Florida.


For much of this day's hike small lizards would run from just ahead of me on the trail into the undewrgrowth. I finally captured photos of several of these. Some of them were the Florida scrub lizard, a state endemic(only occurs here).

 Florida scrub lizard

Later I saw some six-lined racerunners.

 Six-lined racerunner

Nearing the end of the day's hike I came to places where there were several members of the pipewort family. The Eriocaulaceae is a family of plants primarily found in bogs and along the wet shores of ponds and lakes. These little wildflowers, commonly also called bog-buttons and hatpins, can be a challenge to identify more specifically. For instance, these tall pipeworts could be flattened or ten-angled.

 Pipeworts at Hopkins Prairie

As I approached the water's edge to photograph the pipeworts, I saw the much smaller whitehead bogbuttons.

 Whitehead bogbuttons

After passing the big bat house and the Hopkins Prairie Recreation Area campgound where I topped off my water bottles at the hand pump, I came to a live oak hammock that appeared to have been used as a campsite. I walked down towards a dry depression and found a flatter spot with a ground cover of pine needles surrounded by small sand pines. Deciding that this would make a nice campsite, I then set down my pack and photographed some jester lichen and deer moss.


I then went for a cooling and cleansing swim in the large sinkhole nearby. As I was returning to what I thought was going to be my campsite for the night I heard someone whistling loudly and calling out. I found the attendent from the campground standing by my backpack. He kindly explained that I can't camp there as it was still in the recreation area boundry, and also there was a concern that the only road exiting the campground would be blocked if a wildfire got started. I did not bother to explain that I was unlikely to have a campfire in 80 degree weather and was only using a little whisperlite stove.

 Trees reflected in the swimming hole

Glad that I had not unpacked very much, I reloaded my backpack and continued on the trail, passing the swimming hole and soon crossing the next forest road to leave the recreation area. I hiked about a half mile to where I found a tiny clearing off to the side of the trail with a spot where a campfire had been and just enough room for a one man text. This was my home for the night. The next day's hike took me into and through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, a subject for a future post.

Paul Rebmann

July 20, 2019

Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids

November 9th, 2019

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 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.

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.

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

Pretty Little Dragonflies

November 9th, 2019

Pretty Little Dragonflies

Just by chance dragonflies became one of my primary photographic subjects recently. It started with a birding trip to Canaveral National Seashore, during which we saw more butterflies than birds. One of these was a new butterfly for me, a male Julia. I had only seen a female Julia butterfly once before and that was recently (see the Schaus' Butterfly post from this June). In between the various butterflies I photographed a very small dark dragonfly. I thought that it might be a male seaside dragonlet but to be sure I submitted the photos to and received confirmation that indeed it was Erythrodiplax berenice.

 male seaside dragonlet

The next weekend, dragonflies were swarming at the house and over a period of several days I photographed a number of dragonflies, at first thinking that they were all seaside dragonlets, some male and others female. As I sorted through my photographs and compared them with Sidney W. Dunkle's Dragonflies of the Florida Peninsula, Bermuda and the Bahamas, I realized that all of these that I photographed around the yard that week were blue dashers - juveniles and adults of both sexes.

 juvenile male blue dasher

I then went back through years of my dragonfly images, finding, checking and sometimes revising my identification of three similar small dragonflies: blue dasher, seaside dragonlet and little blue dragonlet.

You might think, how hard can it be to tell these apart? For starters, males of all three species have blue and black abdomens. The Dunkle book describes the mature male seaside dragonlet as all black.

 male seaside dragonlet

But they start out with an abdomen that is an orangish-yellow on top, then quickly darken through shades of blue before turning black.

 seaside dragonlet juvenile or unspotted female form

The juveniles also have a yellow and black striped thorax (the middle part of the body, between the head and the abdomen and where the legs and wings are attached) that looks like tiger stripes. The dragonfly that you see in the wild could be at any stage of this darkening. Then there are the females, which also become black, but more slowly and in one of three different color forms.

 female male-like form – note dark thorax

In the male-like form, like the males, the thorax darkens before the abdomen.

 unspotted female form

In the two female forms, the abdomen darkens before the thorax, and one of these – the spotted female form – has a large brown spot in the middle of each wing.

 spotted female form

Seaside dragonlet faces start out black and pale yellow, with the various pale areas darkening with age.

As in the other Florida dragonlets, the mature male little blue dragonlet(Erythrodiplax minuscula) has a dark face, in this case metallic blue to black. Immature and female faces are pale yellowish-brown to olive-green colored. This is the smallest of the dragonflies discussed in this post. Adult males have a blue thorax and a pale blue abdomen with segments eight through ten black. All little blue dragonlets have white abdominal appendages and they lack the 'tiger stripes' on the thorax.

 male little blue dragonlet

Females and immature little blue dragonlets have a yellowish, light-brown abdomen with a black stripe running down the length on top, interrupted black side stripes and also have dark segments 8-10. As males mature they darken simultaneously from the thorax back and from segment 7 forward, with the front of the abdomen retaining light colors the longest.

 immature or female little blue dragonlet

Blue dasher(Pachydiplax longipennis) dragonflies can most easily be differentiated from the dragonlets by the solid white face. Like the seaside dragonlet, blue dashers have a yellow and black 'tiger-stripe' thorax. Mature males have green or blue-green eyes and a pale blue tapered abdomen with a black tip. Females have two parallel interrupted yellow stripes down the abdomen.

 male blue dasher

Blue dashers are also known for frequently perching in the obelisk posture on hot days. This 'head stand' position sticks the abdomen up vertically to face less surface area towards the sun.

 female blue dasher in obelisk posture

For those like me who are viewing and photographing these dragonflies but not capturing them, exact size measurements that are so close to each other are not a good identification factor, but for comparison of three dragonlets found in Florida and the blue dasher, here are their lengths from small to larger:
     Little blue dragonlet – about an inch,
     Seaside dragonlet – from just over an inch to almost an inch and a half,
     Blue dasher – from an inch to almost an inch and three quarters,
     Band winged dragonlet – from an inch and a half to almost two inches.

In the event that you are not awed by the beauty of dragonflies and wondering why we should even care about them. note this close crop of the thumbnail photo at the beginning of this post showing an insect in the dragonfly's mouth. Dragonflies eat many insects, including mosquitoes. The dragonfly larvae even eat mosquito larvae.

 blue dasher dragonfly eating an insect

Paul Rebmann
Oct. 16, 2018

Matanzas, Cuba

November 9th, 2019

Matanzas, Cuba

In February of 2019 Virginia & I had the opportunity to visit Cuba as part of a people-to-people exchange tour.
Note that as of June 2019 these tours and day visits by cruise ships are no longer allowed by the United States.
The first day of the organized tour was in the town of Matanzas, in the province of the same name.
Here are some of my favorite images from that day.

A scenic ride on a modern Chinese-built motorbus took us along the coast from Havana to Matanzas. Our first stop was at Ermita de Monserrate (Hermitage of Montserrat) in an area called Simpson Heights.
This structure was originally built in 1875 by a Cuban subsiduiary of the Natural Charity Society in Catalonia that thought the hiltop reminded them of Montserrat in Spain. The building deteriorated during the 1900's and was restored in 2010.
Here we were introduced to the dances of Cuba with a live musical performance.
This impressive artwork was above the stage and below the alcove containing a statue very similar to "Our Lady of Montserrat" that is at a monastary in Catalonia.

 Ermita De Monserrate

After the dancing at Ermita de Monserrate we walked down the hill into the town of Matanzas.
As we neared the local zoo, I photographed this 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe Coupe, one of the many old cars we saw while in Cuba, parked in a carport next to a house.
The prevalence of old cars and other vehicles in Cuba is a result of Cuban laws that until recently severely restricted buying and selling cars that were not already on the road in Cuba before 1959. After 2011 used car sales were opened up and simplified, but new car imports and purchases still fell under the old rules, which among other things requires goverment permission.

 52 Chevy In Carport

In Matanzas there is a small zoo called Watkin Park. The walls surrounding the zoo are made in a very artistic style and bright colors.

 Watkin Park Wall

On the other side of Watkin Park the wall contained a series of murals.
In front of one of these murals was parked a Kanuni MZ 301 motorcycle.
Kanuni is a Turkish motorcycle company that bought the patents to manufacture the 301 from the German motorcycle company MZ (Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH) in 1993.

 Watkin Park Bird Mural And Motorcycle

 Watkin Park Wetlands Mural

 Watkin Park Fish Mural

 Watkin Park Africa Mural

Lunch was at Hostal Azul where we were welcomed with cups of delicious and very refreshing pineapple juice.
After lunch it was down to the waterfront along the Rio San Juan for a stop at Lolo Galeria-Taller (gallery-workshop).
Lolo is Osmany Betancourt, a renowned Cuban sculptor. In front of the gallery and workshop was a sculpture that was part of his work titled "La Comparsita".

 La Comparsita

Nearby along the riverfront was a sculpture titled "Philanthropy" by Jose Carlos, one of the other artists at Lolo's workshop.


The walking tour of Matanzas ended when we met up with our bus in Plaza de la Vigia, which translates to Plaza of the Lookout, a historical reference to when Matanzas was troubled by pirates and smugglers. The plaza is surrounded by colorful buildings.

 Plaza De La Vigia

Next to the plaza was Estación de Bomberos Enrique Estrada - the Enrique Estrada Fire Station, which can be seen in the thumbnail image at the beginning of this post. This is the oldest fire station in Cuba.
Original construction was completed in 1900 and the building was recently (2018) renovated and is now serving as a museum and apparently also still as a working fire station.

In Plaza De La Vigia is a monument to the Unknown Soldier Mambí.
Mambí translates to 'rebel' and in Cuba refers to the Cuban fighters in the first insurrection against Spain in 1868.
This uprising is known variously as the War of '68, The Great War and the Ten Years' War.

 Unknown Soldier Mambí

That is just a small sample of one day in Cuba. More of the week to come.

Paul Rebmann
June 12, 2019


November 9th, 2019


Mangroves are a group of plants with a shared common name that has more to do with where and how they grow than with their family or genus relationships. Mangroves are shrubs or trees that are halophiles, meaning that they can grow in salt water. To do this they have particular characteristics that help them deal with their saline environment.

The four native mangroves that occur in Florida are listed here in the order of their preferred habitat, from wettest(lowest) to driest(highest).

Rhizophora mangle - red mangrove - family Rhizophoraceae - order Malpighiales (previously placed in Rhizophorales and earlier in Myrtales)

 red mangrove

Avicennia germinans - black mangrove - family Acanthaceae - order Lamiales (earlier classified in the family Verbenaceae and by the Engler system in the order Tubiflorae)

 black mangrove

Laguncularia racemosa - white mangrove - family Combretaceae - order Myrtales

 white mangrove

Conocarpus erectus - buttonwood, or button mangrove - family Combretaceae - order Myrtales


The most cold tolerant of these four mangroves is the black while the white and black mangroves tolerate the highest salinity. Buttonwood is probably both the least cold and salt tolerant of the four. In Florida mangroves are mostly limited to the coastal areas of the peninsula although red and black mangroves can be found in a few panhandle counties. Red mangroves also occur in the Carolinas while black mangroves range along the gulf coast of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Both white and button mangroves can also be found in Texas. Mangroves appear along tropical and sub-tropical coasts around the world. There are two non-native mangroves that have escaped and are invasive in Miami-Dade county, Lumnitzera racemosa (common name kripa) and Bruguiera gymnorhiz (large-leafed orange mangrove). You can read more about them in this Miami Herald article.

Mangroves deal with their high saline environment in different ways. Red mangroves are salt excluders. The root membranes prevent salt from entering the plant as it takes in water. Black mangroves and white mangroves are salt excretors. They have glands in the surface of the leaves to remove salt. White mangroves are believed to accumulate salt in the succulent leaves, which at some point are dropped as a method of salt removal.

All four Florida mangroves have simple leaves that are entire (not lobed nor toothed). Buttonwood has alternate leaves, the other three mangroves have opposite leaves. Red mangrove leaves are elliptic shaped and leathery. Black mangrove leaves are elliptic to lanceolate and green on top with a grayish pubescence on the underside. White mangrove leaves are oval shaped, leathery, smooth, succulent, light green on both sides and often with a notched tip. They have a prominent pair of glands on the petiole just below tha base of the leaf. Buttonwood leaves are oblong, shiny green on top and lighter below with a tip coming to a point and a pair of glands along the margin at the base of the leaf.

 mangrove leaf comparison

The glands of white and button mangroves are widely, but possibly erroneously, said to be salt-excreting glands. Their function is unclear, but they may be extra-floral nectaries or vestigial remnants of no-longer functioning nectaries.

Two of the native mangroves have specialized adaptations to help them survive in the soft moist sediments along the shoreline. These characteristics make very convenient methods of identification. Red mangroves have distinctive prop roots arching out from the trunk and dropping from branches. Black mangroves have widespread shallow root systems that send up aerial roots called pneumatophores. In additon to helping with stabilization, both the prop and aerial roots assist the plant in taking in atmospheric gasses that are not availible in the anaerobic soils where they grow.

 red and black mangrove root comparison

Red mangrove flowers appear in clusters of two to four growing from the leaf axils and are about 3/4 inch in diameter with four pale yellow narrowly triangular to lanceolate sepals and four creamy-white narrowly lanceolate to linear recurving wooly petals that turn brown with age before dropping. Black mangrove flowers are borne in conical clusters with each flower having a yellowish center surrounded by four white petals. White mangrove flowers are in a raceme that grows from the leaf axils and the branch tips. Each flower is tubular, pale green with five greenish-white petal lobes. Buttonwood flowers are in clusters of spheres (the 'buttons') that also grow from leaf axils and branch tips. The individual flowers are tiny and numerous and mostly bisexual with a two-winged tubular base and a cup-like calyx with five lobes, 5 to 10 protruding stamens and a slender style.

 mangrove flower comparison

Three of these species have a unique method of propagation called viviparity. In plants this is when the seeds germinate and sprout while still attached to the parent plant. Black, red and white mangroves are viviparous allowing the sprouted fruit - called propagules - to drop and typically float to another location to take root. Button mangroves do not exhibit viviparity.

The fruit and propagules can also assist in identification of the mangrove species. Red mangroves develop the most while still attached, the cone shaped fruit being dwarfed by the long green radicle that extends from the apex. Black mangrove fruit is a flattened pod that somewhat resembles a lima bean. These can often be seen washed up along the shore with the fuzzy radicle protruding from the split open propagule. White mangrove fruit is a small flattened, ribbed cone that is wider towards the tip and the propagules have a root-like radicle that can be seen while still on the tree or more frequently while floating in the water. Buttonwood fruits are a sphere with a diameter of about a half inch that turns purplish-brown when mature.

 mangrove fruit comparison

Mangroves are expanding their range northward as a result of climate change. Coastal areas that were historically salt marsh are slowly evolving into mangrove dominated habitats. Both salt marsh and mangrove ecosystems are important and have their advantages, however the long term effects of this change is unknown.

Paul Rebmann
Sept. 18, 2019

Summer Vacations

August 22nd, 2018

Summer Vacations

Summer vacation

With the passing of Labor Day marking the end of summer from a cultural perspective, though not quite the closing of the season in either a meteorological or astronomical calendar, I thought summer vacations would be a fitting subject. As someone who still has a non-photography day job, vacations often present opportunities to pursue my part-time career while still providing recreation and 'down-time'. Over the years Virginia and I have traveled to a number of places, during which I have managed to capture some interesting subjects, branching out from my mainstay of Florida photography. Some of the highlights can be seen in my Pacific Northwest and Michigan galleries.

For instance, last summer took us to Oregon with a dip into the redwoods of northern California. After several days experiencing the Portland scene, we ventured out, first to a cabin at Detroit Lake where our local friends took us on some drives to higher altitudes to discover that the wildflowers were as abundant in mid-summer there as they were in the southern Appalachians in spring. Among these wildflowers were bird's-foot trefoil which I captured in an image called Fabaceae Circle. The camping portion of the trip began at Silver Falls State Park where I found Salmonberries in fruit next to our campsite. A short stay only allowed us to see some of the many waterfalls in this park, but I was very pleased with one of the images I made of the main falls that I titled Silver Falls Silver Mist. In Mt. Hood National Forest we stayed in a yurt along Lost Creek with an enchanting nature walk next to the campground, which revealed many subjects for my camera. A drive up a small, sometimes washed out, hillside road lead me to a vistas where I made Mt. Hood. At another location the conifers were framing the peak for Mt. Hood #2. We left the mountain area by way of the scenic Columbia River, and after another night in Portland headed to at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park for more camping, where we were introduced to the cute but noisy Douglas Squirrels. A scenic drive down the Oregon Coast Highway took us to the majestic redwoods of northern California.

A previous trip to the Pacific Northwest in 2003 had us visiting Washington and British Columbia. We started by visiting Mt. Rainier National Park, where I quickly realized that cloudless views of the peak were limited to early in the day. The next portion of that trip was into the Olympic Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean, where I saw sea stacks for the first time that I can remember, including Cake Rock at Rialto Beach. We also visited Dungeness Harbor before taking a ferry to Vancouver Island.

2009 found us in the upper peninsula of Michigan, staying with a group of friends from around the country in a cabin at Van Riper State Park which served as our base for exploring the area. One busy day included Big Bay Point Light, Alder Falls, which I also did in black and white, and both the upper and lower cascades on Pup Creek. Before culminating our day of sightseeing with locally brewed beers in Marquette the group visited an interesting geologic formation in Ishpeming where an outcrop of jaspilite can be seen at the top of a hill. On our way to our next destination Virginia and I visited Pictured Rocks National Seashore, where the sights included Munising Falls and Miners Castle jutting out into Lake Superior.

Combining vacations with photographic opportunities may mean not being in a place at the ultimate best time for imaging, is also presents subjects that I might not otherwise have captured.

Paul Rebmann
Sept. 3, 2014

Appalachian Trail Photography

July 21st, 2018

Appalachian Trail Photography

Last fall as an important project at my day job was coming to a close, I mentioned to my friend Daniel that I had some vacation time I needed to take before the end of the year and we began discussing possible outdoor trips. Considering various kayaking and/or backpacking locations for what was looking like a mid-December trip, I sent an e-mail that included "I did have what is probably a crazy idea that we might want to hike the first stretch of the Appalachian Trail...". Daniel did not think that was so crazy and we proceeded our planning from there.

We both have done many backpacking trips, from overnight to a week, but had never been on the Appalachian Trail for more than a few miles. Having just turned 60 I thought it was about time that I did an AT section hike. Since it had been a number of years since either of us had been backpacking in the mountains and with the time of the year creating the possibility of seriously cold weather, snow and ice, gear and clothing selection took into consideration weight and likely cold hiking and camping conditions.

Following almost two months of planning, gear selection and stepped up physical training, we met at one of the campsites in the Three Forks area near where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Noontootla River. Noontootla Creek #1 was one of the photographs I made near camp the next morning before we headed off to drop off a cache of food along the trail and then to Neel Gap to start the hike.

It was very late in the day as we reached the highest peak of our hike, where we were treated to a beautiful View from Blood Mountain of the Blue Ridge. This is also the greatest elevation in the Apalachicola River watershed making Blood Mountain the highest source of water that reaches Florida. Amazing to think that rain falling on this remote north Georgia peak could be part of the fresh water essential to the oysters in Apalachicola Bay.

Purchase a 20.00" x 16.00" stretched canvas print of Paul Rebmann's View from Blood Mountain for the promotional price of $75
Sale ends at 5 pm Monday, Feb. 23.

Art Prints

After passing the historic rebuilt stone AT shelter, we descended down to a group of campsites where we stopped for the night just as the sun was setting.
Photography Prints
At the nearby water source, we met the first of several groups of through hikers nearing the end of their long journey on the AT.

A surprise to both of us was how many other hikers were also on the trail at this time of year. Of the several dozen people we saw during our trek, almost ten were finishing up hikes from Maine. Most of the times that I have been backpacking, I seldom see other people, and if I do it is usually only 1 or 2, or a single group. Hiking the AT is much more social than either Daniel or myself were used to.

The second day of hiking was a long one and included the View from Big Cedar Mountain along the way. That night was the only rain of the trip while we were snug in the bivies and mostly dry under the tarp.

A short day of hiking brought us to Gooch Gap were we camped on a long unused roadbed on the side of a hill near where we stashed supplies. The next morning was the only one where I got up before the sun - just barely - and captured Appalachian Sunrise.

Sell Art Online

Also that morning I photographed the small nearby streams making End of the Road Falls and Walden Creek Cascade.

Taking a break and refilling water bottles at Justus Creek also provided a photographic opportunity. This was the last water source until Hawk Mountain shelter, which we reached right around dusk, ending one of the longer days on the trail.

A short day of hiking allowed a side trek to Long Creek Falls and retrieval of my car at Neel Gap after selecting a campsite for our last two nights. Long Creek Falls Swoosh is a perspective looking down from a midpoint of the several cascades.

This final camp was several miles downstream from our first Three Forks camp. Here I made Noontootla Creek #2, Noontootla Creek #3 and Noontootla Flow and Swirl.

We drove up to the approach parking lot and hiked up to Springer Mountain then back down to Three Forks to finish our section hike. The View from Springer Mountain was particularly nice as we enjoyed our accomplishment at reaching the summit of the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. See the image at the head of this post, that is Daniel on the left and I am on the right.

On the last morning I made Noontootla Creek #4 before heading back home to Florida.

Paul Rebmann
Feb. 17, 2015

Wiliam Bartram

July 21st, 2018

Wiliam Bartram

William Bartram was born in 1738 in the family home (pictured here at the end of March) overlooking the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. His father was John Bartram, widely considered the Father of American Botany and co-founder with Benjamin Franklin and others of the Philadelphia Philosophical Society. When William was 27 he accompanied his father on his first expedition into Georgia and Florida. The purpose of this trip was to provide a report and collection of plants to King George III on the area recently acquired by England from Spain.

After that expedition, William returned to the southeastern colonies on behalf of private English benefactors who in return received much of what he collected. He also attempted at one point to start a plantation in Florida along the St. Johns River, an endeavor that did not last long. After returning to Pennsylvania, he wrote and eventually published his famous and popular book Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. In it he described the plants and creatures that he encountered in this strange wild land, including the natives, with which he had many interactions. The chief of the Alachua tribe called William 'puc-puggy', which was 'flower hunter' in their language.

Bartrams Ixia by Paul Rebmann

As a result of the botanical knowledge that he brought back to scientists with his drawings and collections, a number of species bear the Bartram name in William's honor (and also a few for his father). The images here include several that I have photographed, one of these is Bartram's Ixia, a small wildflower that is only found in northeastern Florida, mostly in the area surrounding Bartram's failed plantation. Calydorea caelestina blooms in the late spring and into the summer. Each of the violet-blue flowers open only once early in the day, start closing during mid-morning, and are usually gone by noon. When not in bloom, the plant is nondescript, appearing as though it was some kind of grass. Travels included a drawing of this Ixea.

Bartrams Ixia and Bee #2 by Paul Rebmann

Here is a sample from Travels where William is returning down the St. Johns river in his small boat and has spent a pleasant night camped in an orange grove along the river. After arising and attending to his vessel, he ventures into a field beyond the grove: "What a beautiful display of vegetation is here before me! Seemingly unlimited in extent and variety: how the dew-drops twinkle and play upon the sight, trembling on the tips of the lucid, green savanna, sparkling as the gem that flames on the turban of the eastern prince. See the pearly tears rolling off the buds of the expanding Granadilla:* behold the azure fields of cerulean Ixia!"
*Granadilla = Passiflora incarnata - purple passionflower, maypop

Bartrams Ixia and Bee #3 by Paul Rebmann

Another interesting plant named for William is Bartram's airplant - Tillandsia bartramii. This epiphytic plant anchors itself on tree branches and trunks and derives sustenance by absorbing nutrients from the rain, dew, dust, decaying leaves and insect matter. Bartram's airplant can be found in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tamaulipas, Mexico. In the image here, a tubular violet flower can be seen emerging from rose-red bracts. The plant forms a globular cluster of needle-like leaves.

Bartrams Airplant Flower by Paul Rebmann

A documentary titled Cultivating the Wild: William Bartram's Travels is in the works centered around William Bartram and the nature that he explored. A sample of this project can be seen at

When Travels was first published, many readers were skeptical about some of his descriptions, such as the size, ferocity and number of alligators that he encountered, and of the civilized nature of the native tribes, which many people at the time considered savages. As time passed and more people ventured into the same areas, they discovered that his fantastical descriptions did have a basis in fact.

As I venture into the wild natural areas of Florida while hiking, canoeing or kayaking, I sometimes try to imagine what this must have seemed like to a young man from Pennsylvania over two hundred years ago.

Paul Rebmann
Spet. 29, 2016

Pitcherplants in May

July 21st, 2018

Pitcherplants in May

The Sarraceniaceae is a family of carnivorous plants known as the pitcher-plants. Members of this plant family have modified leaves that form a pitcher of various shapes and colors that traps and digests insects. This allows these plants to thrive in low-nutrient soils as is found in some bogs and other usually wet locations. Unlike the better-known venus fly-trap, the pitcher-plants catch their prey without any moving parts, using the shape of the pitcher, hairs and/or chemicals instead to capture their meals.

Other than the California pitcherplant - Darlingtonia californica - on the west coast, all of the North American species of the pitcher-plant family are in the genus Sarracenia. A number of these can be found in the southeastern states, with one - Sarracenia purpurea - also occurring across the colder regions of the continent.

Pitcherplant Hoods by Paul Rebmann

In Florida the most widespread of these is the hooded pitcherplant. Sarracenia minor is the only species found in the Florida peninsula., occurring from just north of Lake Okeechobee, west into the central panhandle and into Georgia and the Carolinas. While I see these fairly frequently, they are seldom as nice looking and not obscured by other plants as they were early this May in Tiger Bay State Forest.

Pitcherplant Flower by Paul Rebmann

All of the other pitcherplants are absent from the Florida peninsula, occurring mostly in the panhandle and various southeastern states. I have seen several of these during Florida Native Plant Society conference field trips in the Apalachicola National Forest. During these and other visits in the forest, I have seen many color variations of Sarracenia flava, yellow pitcherplants. At one of the locations visited, I went back after the field trip and made the image that I call O'Sarracenia.

Award-winning O Sarracenia by Paul Rebmann

This memorial day weekend I visited Tate's Hell State Forest, stopping at an area that was recently burned to check out a big patch of Oceola's Plume. Here I also discovered fresh leaves of parrot pitcherplants. In this species, the hood resembles a parrot head and obscures the small opening that allows insects into the trap.

Fresh Parrot Pitcherplants by Paul Rebmann

There are many variations on the details of how the area got its name, but all revolve around Cebe Tate, a farmer who in 1875 went hunting a panther that was killing his livestock and had a lengthily and harrowing experience in the wild. It alleged that when he emerged from the swampland he stated that that ..."I just came from Hell". After which the area came to be known as Tate's Hell. Now a state forest , it is popular with hunters, paddlers enjoying the New River, birders seeking red-cockaded woodpeckers, migrating warblers and more, plus other nature lovers.

Whitetop Pitcherplant by Paul Rebmann

My primary objective this day was to find whitetop pitcherplants, a species that I possibly seen before late in the year. They were dried, brown and mostly toppled pitchers along the Florida Trail in Blackwater River State Forest and could have been either yellow (S. flava) or whitetop (S. leucophylla) pitcherplants. After scouting around in Tate's Hell, stopping here and there to photograph various subjects, I finally found some Sarracenia leucophylla and was able to make some photographs before a thunderstorm moved in and sent me on my way.

Whitetop Pitcherplants And Clouds by Paul Rebmann

While May is not the only time you can see pitcherplants, it does happen that all of the images seen here were taken in May of various years. Most of these species would probably have prettier flowers earlier in the season, before the drooping petals fall off.

Paul Rebmann
June 6, 2016

Bigflower Pawpaw

July 21st, 2018

Bigflower Pawpaw

This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on images in the Only in Florida exhibit, now on display in the Lyonia Gallery in Deltona.

Bigflower Pawpaw by Paul Rebmann Bigflower Pawpaw, photographed in the Lyonia Preserve, Deltona, Florida.

In 1774 while traveling in present day Putnam county from Spaldings lower store at Stokes Landing to Halfway pond (now known as Cowpen Lake) William Bartram saw many new shrubs, "particularly a species of annona...". Bartram went on to describe what is now known as Asimina obovata in his Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, a book that was not published until 1791. Imagine how difficult it was to get a book published in the 18th century, even if your dad (John Bartram) started a really cool club (the American Philosophical Society) with one of the area's most famous printers (Benjamin Franklin), who was known to come over and hang out at the house for chats (Bartram's Gardens).

Bartram House in summer The home of John & William Bartram at Bartram Gardens, Philadelphia.

In the meantime André Michaux was exploring Florida for France in 1787. Michaux also noticed this plant near the Indian River in present day Brevard County where he "collected two Annonas, one of which was a new species with very large white flowers...".

View online purchase options for Bigflower Pawpaw #2 by Paul Rebmann

Both of these early botanical explorers were describing an endemic Florida species - Asimina obovata - or bigflower pawpaw. This plant is only found in the Florida peninsula from just south of Jacksonville to Lake Okeechobee.

Bigflower Pawpaw grows in a variety of habitats, but tends towards scrubby, sandy areas. Most frequently a shrub it can become treelike and reach up to 15 feet tall. The large white to greenish-white flowers can be seen from March through May after the current season's new leaves have emerged. The flowers form at the ends of short lateral shoots. The tips of these shoots and the veins on the undersides of the leaves are red-pubescent(fuzzy), one of the distinguishing marks that help identify this species. Another is the maroon corrugated area on the inside base of the inner petals.
Bigflower Pawpaw showing inside of flowerShowing the maroon base on the inside of the petals.

For more information and photos of Bigflower Pawpaw visit the Wild Florida Photo Asimina obovata page.

Paul Rebmann
March 20, 2016

Weather Relativity

July 21st, 2018

Weather Relativity

Now that winter has actually arrived, both here in Florida and in points north, I want to look back at just last month when much of the eastern United States was experiencing temperatures that could be used as a textbook example of 'unseasonable'.

Unless you have been living in a remote cave I am sure you have heard the reports that 2015 was the warmest year on record. In fact December was globally the warmest calendar month in 136 years of weather history. For anyone who wants to read more on this, Jeff Master's blog at Weather Underground is an excellent summary.

In Florida the weather was only marginally cool enough to camp a few days in November and December when it is usually ideal weather to sit around a campfire and sleep in a tent.

Lake Norris Kayak by Paul Rebmann

In mid-December I had heard that the water level was high enough to allow easy paddling up to Lake Norris. This had long been on my kayaking to-do list, so I enjoyed a beautiful Sunday on the water paddling upstream on Blackwater Creek, winding through the cypress swamp then all the way around Lake Norris and back. This scenic water body in Lake County is similar in appearance to Lake Disston in Flagler Co (see my October post) and Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County.

Scarlet Hibiscus #3 by Paul Rebmann

I was surprised to come across several scarlet hibiscus flowers along the edge of Lake Norris. It is not that this is an unusual place to see them because it is not. In fact, the best way to see this magnificent native wildflower is by boat, as it favors the wet edges of streams and ponds. But it is a summer or early fall bloomer, with flowers most often seen in July and August in this area.

During the Christmas bird count, our team noticed a few anomalies with the types and numbers of birds seen, including a low count of robins, which in a more typical year would have been driven here in large numbers by cold weather. While out canvasing birds we saw several out-of season flowers. The azaleas might not be that unusual, as they do tend to flower sporadically during even slightly mild winters earlier than their more typical late February blooms. But the big surprise were the southern magnolia flowers, which would normally be seen from late spring into early summer.

Magnolia Blossom by Paul Rebmann

These untimely floral phenomena might be just a observational curiosity. It is unlikely - as can often happen farther north when plants bud and flower too early - that freezes will significantly harm the coming year's normal plant cycles. But as a fellow naturalist pointed out the other day, the last time there was a winter similar to this was 1997-1998. That was during an El Niño event, one that up until then was the strongest in history but surpassed by the current cycle. The warm and wet winter promoted a lot of unseasonable growth. Followed by a shift to a La Niña weather pattern that brought a dry spring and summer, making all that extra growth prime fuel for the most devastating wildfire season Florida had ever experienced. Each El Niño and La Niña period do not necessarily duplicate the resulting weather of previous events, but many of the factors that influence the weather in various areas can tend to be similar. Hopefully weather history will not repeat itself and that the increase in prescribed burns in the intervening years has helped lower the fuel load in many of Florida's natural areas and therefore make any wildfires that do occur more manageable.

Starting a Good Fire by Paul Rebmann

Paul Rebmann
January 26, 2016

2015 Year in Review

July 21st, 2018

2015 Year in Review

With the year coming to a close I looked back at the photographs that I made over the past twelve months and picked some of my favorites to share with you here.

View from Blood Mountain by Paul Rebmann

Last December this "View from Blood Mountain" presented itself near the end of my first day of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. This shows the Blue Ridge Mountains in north Georgia form the highest peak of that week's hike. This trip was the subject of my February post and was followed up with another week of backpacking the next section of trail at the beginning of March. That hike was encapsulated in a video by Danial Reed which can be seen in the YouTube video "A. T. Neal's Gap to Dicks Creek Gap".

Swallow-tailed Kite #1 by Paul Rebmann

The swallow-tailed kite pictured here (and also at the top of this post) was captured (photographically) near Goethe State Forest. I had been there to hike one of the forest's Trailwalker trails and try and find some of the spring orchids to photograph. I did not have much luck with the orchids, but I did find other wildflowers and wildlife including a red-headed woodpecker and a Sherman's fox squirrel, the latter of which eluded the camera. This kite was plucking things to eat out of the tops of some trees, occasionally swooping low and close to the position I had taken near the trees of a fencerow. I did get some nice images of green addersmouth orchid on the way home that day at a location I knew about near Ocala.

Cypress Osprey Duo by Paul Rebmann

This image from Lake Disston (see October post) is what I consider an iconic Florida scene, but one that is mostly only seen by kayakers, canoeists and fishermen out enjoying the state's lakes and rivers. The image shows two osprey, one on the nest and another perched nearby, in an old, gnarly, weatherbeaten cypress tree growing in the shallows of the lake surrounded by spatterdock leaves.

Seaoats at Dawn by Paul Rebmann

Closer to home on the Atlantic coast this summer I photographed seaoats backlit by the early morning sun.

Slender Gayfeather by Paul Rebmann

Once the heat of summer broke, Virginia & I went camping at Hillsborough River State Park in October. The entrance road to the park was lined with spectacular fields of Liatris in bloom. This wildflower has several names, also known as gayfeather or blazing star. This is one of the images that I made while we were there.

I hope that you have enjoyed my photographs from the past year and that you are also inspired to go out and enjoy nature.

Paul Rebmann
December 14, 2015


July 21st, 2018


The photography of Paul Rebmann is being shown in two public venues.
The Halifax Historical Museum is featuring the exhibit "Our Natural World Around Us" and one of the entrance displays at the Ormond Beach Library will be filled with Wild Florida Photos during The month of August.

Online purchase options for Anhinga Pine by Paul Rebmann

One of the themes of both exhibits features photographs of plants named after some of Florida's botanical explorers, such as Curtiss' milkweed named for Allen Hiram Curtiss (1845-1907).
Online purchase options for Curtiss’ Milkweed #1 by Paul Rebmann
Other explorers with images of their namesake plants include Mark Catesby (1683-1749), André Michaux (1746-1802), William Bartram (1739-1823), and Ferdinand Rugel (1806-1879).

Another theme is "Only in Florida" featuring state endemic species like the Forida Scrub Jay.
Online purchase options for Scrub Jay on Chop by Paul Rebmann
A couple of the other species found only in Florida include the peninsula cooter, Florida Indian Plantain and Celestial Lily.

Both exhibits are filled out with other images of Florida scenes, flora and fauna

Online purchase options for Celestial Lily by Paul Rebmann

"Our Natural World Around Us" opened on July 14th and will be on display at the Halifax Historical Museum, 252 S. Beach St, in downtown Daytona Beach through November 14.
An online version of the exhibit can be found at the Wild Florida Photo Halifax Historical Museum exhibit section.
During this exhibit run, I will be featuring one or two images from the exhibit at a time in limited time sales of 11 inch by 14 inch stretched gallery wrap canvas prints for only $50.
To see which image is on sale, visit the Wild Florida Photo home page or the "Our Natural World Around Us" page, and/or follow on twitter @WildFlPhoto.

An online version of the Ormond Beach Library display is also available. The photographs will be on display at the Ormond Beach Library at 30 S. Beach St, Ormond Beach, FL.

Paul Rebmann
July 31, 2015

Florida Verve

July 21st, 2018

Florida Verve

The nature photography of Paul Rebmann was the subject of a profile earlier this year in Florida Verve, an online art and culture magazine.

You can read that profile at Florida Views: Paul Rebmann's Nature Photography.


July 21st, 2018


There are many interesting spiders that can be seen in Florida. I will show you a few of them and their webs.

One of the largest and very common spider is the golden-silk spider. This member of the orb-weavers family is also often called banana spider. My photograph of a golden-silk spider hanging below her web won honorable mention in the Advanced category of Orange Audubon Society's 2015 Chertok Nature Photography contest.

View online purchase options for Golden-Silk Spider by Paul Rebmann

The male golden-silk spiders are much smaller than the females, as can be seen in several of the photographs on the Nephila clavipes page at Wild Florida Photo.

The spiny orb-weaver is a much smaller but very distinctive spider. Also known as the crab spider or spinybacked orbweaver spider, this is also a fairly common spider, especially in Florida citrus groves. The range of Gasteracantha cancriformis extends across the southern United States, through Central and much of South America. This species may have different markings in other parts of it's range than that shown here, which is how they look in Florida.

View online purchase options for Spiny Orb Weaver by Paul Rebmann

Unlike most of the other orbweavers, the Orchard Orbweaver spins its web on a horizontal or only slightly tilted plane.
This small spider, also called the Venusta orchard spider, hangs below the center of the web which can often be seen off to the side of trails.

View online purchase options for Orchard Orbweaver #2 by Paul Rebmann

Last month's blog post included a crab spider on rayless sunflower. This is one of the Mecaphesa species in the crab spider family. These are also called flower spiders because instead of building webs to catch prey, they lie in wait, often well camouflaged, and catch insects that come to visit the flower. The flower spider on horsemint below is another example. This spider had caught a small bee soon after this photo was made.

View online purchase options for Flower Spider on Horsemint #1 by Paul Rebmann

The image at the top of this post is a black and yellow Argiope. Also called the writing spider for the distinctive zig-zag pattern on the web. These patterns are called stabilimentum and the immature spiders of this species make a circular one as shown below. The purpose of the stabilimentum is debated by experts. Although the name might indicate that it stabilizes the web this is not currently considered the primary function. A number of theories include: camouflage for the spider, attracting prey, attracting a mate, molting platform, sun protection, and silk production practice.

View online purchase options for Black and Yellow in White and Black by Paul Rebmann

Most spiders are relatively harmless to humans, at most inflicting a painful bite. In Florida only widow and recluse spiders are venomous.
You can read more about them at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

Spiders are part of nature's insect control, so not only are they pretty to look at, they can be beneficial to have around. These are only a few of the many kinds of spiders, some more that occur in Florida can be seen at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
June 30, 2015

Florida Orchids

July 21st, 2018

Florida Orchids

Florida is home to over a hundred orchid species, making up about half of the orchids found in North America.
Many may think of orchids as being a tropical plant, but orchids are one of the most diverse plant families and can be found almost anywhere on the planet.
I have been pleasantly surprised to come across orchids in both Michigan's upper peninsula and in Oregon's Mt. Hood National Forest.

Grasspink #1 by Paul Rebmann

People for centuries have had a particular fascination with orchids, with explorers traveling the world collecting new species for orchid fanciers to cultivate in their gardens and greenhouses.
This obsession, as characterized by the phrase "orchids put the cult in horticulture", has been observed and described in various books and other writings over the years.
One of the more widely known of these is Susan Orleans' "The Orchid Thief".
"The Scent of Scandal", a more recent book by Craig Pittman is not only an entertaining true story of Florida orchid mania, it is also an informative bibliography on the subject of orchids.

Grasspink #2 by Paul Rebmann

My appreciation of orchids is focused on finding and photographing the many native species that are found in Florida and elsewhere.
This quest has taken me into various natural and often inhospitable habitats around the state, both on my own, and on field trips with knowledgeable orchid experts.
I have been on several field trips lead by Paul Martin Brown, author of "Wild Orchids of Florida" and other orchid guides and publications.
On one of these outings, Paul made a statement typical of orchid enthusiasts, "there are two kinds of plants in the world, orchids and not orchids".
Thanks to Paul Martin Brown I have seen several orchids that I might not have found otherwise, including woodland ladiestresses, green addersmouth orchid and a new species that he just described about 8 years ago, Potts' plume orchid.

Purchase Potts

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Owen, state biologist at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, on several occasions.
One of these was a Florida Native Plant Society field trip that he led, but the first time I met him was on my first of several visits to the Fakahatchee.
He stopped and talked to me as I was getting organized at my car in a parking area along Janes Scenic Drive.
Mike was very friendly and helpful in suggesting where I might want to go to look for interesting things to photograph.
In retrospect, he might have been also checking me out to ease his mind that I was not a poacher, as I could very easily appeared as such at first glance.

Purchase Green Addersmouth Orchid by Paul Rebmann

The Fakahatchee is a very different place depending upon what time of year it is.
In late spring, at the end of the dry season, it is a fairly easy place to explore.
A person can walk down any of the old logging tram paths and off into the low areas with only a few puddles here and there and if your timing is good, very few bugs.
By mid summer, the water is up and the mosquitoes are in full blood-sucking force.
In mid winter, the mosquitoes are often gone, but the water is deep.
Getting to the pretty plants involves carefully wading through waist deep water as I did with Daniel Reed one December during some of south Florida's coldest weather on record.
The orchid highlights of that adventure were the night-scented and the clamshell.
A misstep from catching my boot on a submerged log resulted in my film camera getting dipped into the swamp.
The camera continued to work the remainder of that outing, but it soon died and I was unable to revive it as I had after it's dunking in the Apalachicola Forest's Bradwell Bay several years earlier.
This development resulted in my migrating to digital photography.

Purchase Clamshell Orchid by Paul Rebmann

Although I have seen and photographed many things in the Fakahatchee, the magnificent flower of the ghost orchid has eluded me there.
I have seen young not-yet-blooming plants in the strand, simply a few green threads of orchid roots on a tree.
The only flowers I have seen were on the plant in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
This was only fairly recently discovered by a birder looking for owls after the devastating 2004 Florida hurricane season apparently cleared the view from the boardwalk to a ghost orchid plant high on a tree.
You can see my ghost orchid photos at Wild Florida Photo.

Purchase Lady Orchid #1 by Paul Rebmann

Not all of Florida's orchids are epiphytes, plants that grow on trees instead of the soil.
With the exception of the greenfly and Tampa butterfly orchids, most of those outside of tropical south Florida are terrestrial plants.
These include the leafless beaked lady orchid - Sacoila lanceolata - that can sometimes be found in highway right-of-ways.
The many species of ladiestresses are mostly terrestrial, with fragrant, or marsh, ladiestresses - Spiranthes odorata - being semi-aquatic, often growing in seasonally flooded areas.
The waterspider false reinorchid - Habenaria repens - is one of the few truly aquatic orchids, found along open shorelines, ditches and stagnant pools.

Purchase Fragrant Ladiestresses by Paul Rebmann

Orchid hunting, in my case with a camera, can be a challenging and rewarding experience, taking a person into places they might not otherwise go and also experiencing many other interesting and beautiful aspects of our wild natural world.

The orchid photographs above can be purchased online by clicking on the desired image, and you can see all 33 of the Florida orchids that I have photographed so far at the Wild Florida Photo Orchidaceae page.

Paul Rebmann
April 30, 2015

Kayak Photography

July 21st, 2018

Kayak Photography

My 'on the water' photography has increased greatly the past 4 years since purchasing a sea touring kayak that I found on Craig's List. Prior to this most of my paddling had been in a canoe. I acquired the kayak to allow me to go out on solo photography paddles and also for extended kayak camping with my friend Daniel Reed from Tennessee.

Kayaking is a great way to see natural Florida and its flora and fauna. The low 'near the water' position provides a great angle for photography and that low profile along with the relative quietness of a kayak, allows sighting of even more wildlife than in most other boats, even canoes. I have seen more green herons since I started kayaking than I had previously, like this pair along the Tomoka River.

Purchase Green Heron Pair by Paul Rebmann

Most of my kayaking has been solo, which allows me to stop and spend whatever time I want photographing various scenes and subjects. On one paddle last year I met another solo kayaker on Blackwater Creek who I only knew from reading his Dave's Yak Tales blog.
I have participated in several kayak camping trips with Daniel & other friends, plus field trips like this one on the Silver River with groups such as Florida Native Plant Society or day trips with an informal group of paddlers known as the River Runners. The string lily image below was made on a lower Ocklawaha River paddle with the River Runners.

Purchase String Lily #1 by Paul Rebmann

In Florida almost any body of water with access is paddle-able, although some are more scenic than others. The natural parts of the Ocklawaha River are particularly nice, as is the Silver River that flows from Silver Springs to the Ocklawaha. The Suwannee River is great for kayak or canoe camping trips from 1 or 2 nights to a week or more. For more information check out the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Purchase Suwannee River Sand Water Rock by Paul Rebmann

For the more adventurous, there is the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, which Daniel and I kayaked for a week from Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola to Henderson Beach State Park near Destin.

Water - especially salt water - and cameras do not mix. I killed my previous camera in the keys when the cockpit filled with water while snorkeling in choppy waters near Big Pine Key. The dry bag I was using did not remain dry inside. I learned a hard lesson that dry bags are not created equal. It is important to use a good waterproof bag that is easy to open and close, such as the one I now have, a Sagebrush Dry Hip & Deck Pack. My current camera survived a dunking in the gulf of Mexico thanks to that bag which simply floated, tethered to the overturned kayak in the over six foot waves.

The Scarlet Hibiscus below was photographed along Spring Garden Creek, between DeLeon Springs State Park and Lake Woodruff.

Purchase Scarlet Hibiscus #4 by Paul Rebmann

The Cooter on Alligator Log image was made on Snake Creek near Hontoon Island State Park.

Paul Rebmann
Nov 20, 2014

Butterflies and Brown Velvet

July 21st, 2018

Butterflies and Brown Velvet

After my April 8 tweet '7 years ago today' of a Carolina satyr butterfly -
view original tweet Dr. Andrew Warren (@AndyBugGuy) of the University of Florida McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity contacted me asking if I had more photos of that butterfly since he wanted to see if any of them might be a newly described similar species. It turned out that I had taken a number of photos on several occasions and at different locations that I had identified as Carolina satyr. Two of these butterflies were actually the 'new' intricate satyr butterfly. The photo that I tweeted was a Carolina satyr. The butterfly had its wings spread and the photograph shows one of the differentiating characteristics between the two species. Intricate satyrs lack a darker area towards the base of the forewings that is shown in my photo of the Carolina Satyr titled "Brown Velvet". This photo will appear in an article about these butterflies in the June issue of the News of the Lepidoperists' Society.

Paul Rebmann
May 7, 2014

...Years Ago Today

July 21st, 2018

...Years Ago Today

Since we are over a quarter of the way through 2014, I thought I would explain my "...years ago today" tweets. Since the beginning of 2014 almost every day I have posted on a photo that was taken on that date sometime in the previous fifteen years. In the first three months there were only six dates that I had not taken photos on.

In most cases I already had a photo posted on my Wild Florida Photo ( website, but there have been a number of times that I have had to pull a previously unused image from my archives to represent that date. An example of one of these is Sunset Pines.

Click here to view online print purchase options for this image.

This is an image that I made from the primitive campsites at Highlands Hammock State Park where I camped following a Florida Native Plant Society board meeting held at Archbold Biological Station.

In addition to showcasing the variety of my images, I have found this "..years ago today" exercise helpful in several aspects. For one thing, the daily deadline is forcing me to regularly review and process photos. This review has resulted in finding images that I had forgotten about and making me prepare others that I just never got around to doing anything with.

Some of other the images I have used on my website, or previously printed for sale at art shows and other events, I have now reprocessed with a more seasoned eye, resulting in what I feel are better images. After all, even Ansel Adams completely changed the look of some of his famous images, such as his iconic 1927 Monolith - The Face of Half Dome, which later in his career he printed in the high contrast style that most people think of when they hear his name.

With almost nine more months in this year, there are lots of photos, from 35mm film & slides, digital snapshot and three different digital SLRs, with even a few iPhone images to present to you. If you are not already doing so, follow me on @WildFlPhoto to see each day's photo.

Paul Rebmann
Apr. 8, 2014

Schaus' Swallowtail

June 18th, 2018


A very wet native plant field trip this May resulted in my seeing two butterflies that were new to me, including the rare Schaus' swallowtail. This trip to Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park was one of many activities during the Florida Native Plant Society annual state conference.
Myself and two other attendees braved the early start of this year's rainy season to visit an area not open to the public. Our leader was Janice Duquesnei, Florida State Parks keys biologist.

Schaus' swallowtail is a rare and endangered butterfly is now only found on a couple of the upper Florida keys and in a few small sites nearby on the mainland. It has the distinction of being one of the first insects given federal protection, being listed as threatened in 1976, then as endangered in 1984.
Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus is a butterfly of tropical hardwood hammocks, historically from the greater Miami area to Lower Matecumbe Key and is one of the subspecies of the Island Swallowtail found throughout the West Indies.

These rare butterflies are similar to the closely related giant swallowtail, but the 'tails' of the Schaus' swallowtail have a yellow margin instead of a yellow spot. Sexes are similar to each other except that the males have yellow-tipped antennae and the females dark-tipped antennae. This species' common name is in honor of US entomologist & botanist William Schaus (1858-1942) who is known primarily for his contributions to the knowledge of Neotropical Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths).

The primary larval host plants of the Schaus' swallowtail are two members of the citrus family, sea torchwood and wild lime. For the past several years there have been habitat restoration projects in Biscayne National Park to remove invasive plants and replace them with torchwood and wild lime. In conjunction with these mostly volunteer projects, classroom curriculum has been created for Miami area schools to educate about Schaus' swallowtail and some of the other rare and endangered species and the importance of habitat in their survival. This curriculum included the creation of school gardens with host plants. You can read more about these projects at The Schaus Swallowtail Habitat Enhancement Project.

Sea torchwood is an occasional shrub or small tree of hammocks along the Florida east coast from Flagler County into the Keys. The range extends through the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is also found in Mexico and Belize.
Amyris elemifera is an evergreen with light brown bark growing up to about sixteen feet tall. The drooping leaves are opposite and compound with three to five leaflets. Leaflets are petiolate, ovate-lanceolate, one to three inches long with glandular dots on the top surface and pointed tips. The tiny white flowers are in branching clusters and the fruit is a small purple to black ovoid drupe with glandular dots that is less than a half inch long.
The species name is derived from the term elemi, referring to a fragrant resin used in essential oils and varnishes. The Mexican variety of elemi is made from torchwood, other parts of the world use different trees to make their elemi. Amyris elemifera is also the larval host plant for the Bahamian swallowtail.

Wild lime is a frequent evergreen shrub or small tree of hammocks in the central and south Florida peninsula and the Keys. The range includes Texas, the West Indies and Mexico.
One of the most distinguishing traits of wild lime is the winged rachis on the alternate compound leaves. There are seven to nine small leaflets that are each less than one and a quarter inches long and less than three-quarters inches wide with crenate margins on at least the upper half of the leaflet. The yellow-green flowers are very small and appear in the spring. The fruit is a shiny black seed in a brownish husk. Zanthoxylum fagara is also a larval host plant for the giant swallowtail.

The other butterfly seen on that field trip new to me was the Julia butterfly. Dryas iulia var. largo is one of Florida's longwing butterlfies along with the gulf fritillary and the state butterfly, zebra longwing.

Paul Rebmann
June 18, 2018

Sweet Acacia

May 2nd, 2018

Sweet Acacia

Sweet acacia is a native shrub to small tree of the southern-most band of states from Florida and Georgia west into California. It is closely related to the iconic trees of the African savanna landscapes, including the umbrella thorn acacia.

For a while we had an acacia tree in our yard that after a very slow start had grown from a seedling to about ten feet tall. However it did not survive being relocated to make way for a new septic system.

Until recent reclassifications Acacia was the largest genera in the pea family with about 1500 species worldwide. The greatest number of species – roughly 900 - occur in Australia, and those native to that continent are the ones that retained the genus name Acacia. Most of the Florida natives were moved to the genus Vachellia, including sweet acacia, which changed from Acacia farnesiana to Vachellia farnesiana farnesiana. Many of the African native acacias are now Vachellia or Sengalia.

In Florida sweet acacias are mostly found on shell middens, coastal hammocks, pinelands and disturbed sites, more frequently in the southern peninsula. They are usually eight to 20 feet tall and the many branching trunks can make them six to ten feet wide.

Sweet Acacia zig-zags and thorns

The zig-zag branches have whitish thorns that are actually spinescent stipules. Stipules are pairs of appendages that are at the base of many leaf stems, but are more frequently very small and leaf-like.

Sweet Acacia leaves

The alternate leaves are bipinnately compound with each leaf divided into two to six pairs of pinnae, each of which has ten to 25 pairs of tiny linear leaflets. This gives the plant an appearance similar to a mimosa and in fact Carl Linnaeus first classified sweet acacia as Mimosa farnesiana in 1753.

Sweet Acacia inflorescence

Flowers are a globular cluster of yellow stamens 3/8 - 1/2 inch in diameter appearing at the end of not quite inch long stalks.

Sweet Acacia stamens close-up

Acacia is derived from the Greek word akis, meaning a point or barb. Vachellia is named in honor of George Harvey Vachell (1789-1839) who collected plants in China while there serving as a chaplain to the British East India Company. The specific name farnesiana is in honor of Italian Odoardo Farnese (1573–1626) whose family maintained a private botanical garden in Rome and imported these trees from the Caribbean. Sweet acacia was used to make perfume and is still grown in southern France for that purpose.

Sweet acacia is a larval host plant for the Ammon blue (Cyclargus ammon) and nickerbean blue - also known as the acacia blue - (Hemiargus ammon) butterflies, the latter now only known to occur on Big Pine Key. It is also a nectar food plant for red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) butterfly.

Paul Rebmann
May 2, 2018

Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules

March 15th, 2018

Soras, Rails, Coots and Gallinules

One of the more frequently seen rails is the sora. These small, thin, chicken-like birds inhabit both freshwater and brackish marshes and other wet places throughout Florida in the winter. The winter range also extends along the coast of the southern half of the United States, the Caribbean and all of Mexico. Soras migrate at night to breeding areas in the northern half of the United States and much of Canada.


Soras have a thick, somewhat conical, stubby yellow bill and are mostly gray and brown with white edged feathers and greenish-yellow legs. The adults have a black face mask, that is paler in females and absent in juveniles. Soras (Porzana carolina) are also called Carolina Rails.

You have probably heard the phase 'thin as a rail', that comes from the shape of rails as can be seen in the photo of the sora below. This slenderness facilitates their movement between the marsh vegetation, such as reeds, mangrove trunks and pneumatophores, or other plants.


Another rail found in mangrove swamps and saltwater marshes of Florida, but more likely to be heard than seen is the clapper rail. They are larger than most other rails with a long slightly curved bill. Most of the body is mottled with the throat and belly smooth and drab. Birds along the Gulf Coast have some cinnamon coloring, especially on the belly while along the Atlantic coast birds tend to be grayer. They range along the east coast of the United States, Mexico and Central America plus the Caribbean.

Clapper Rail

The clapper rail is one of two large rails found in Florida, the other being the king rail of freshwater marshes, although these species may sometimes overlap in brackish marshes. Until 2014 clapper rails were considered to be a subspecies of Rallus longirostris but now named as a separate secies Rallus crepitans. Rallus longirostris is now the mangrove rail of South America. The western subspecies of California, Arizona, Nevada and the western coast of Mexico is now Ridgeway's rail, Rallus obsoletus. This new species is named for ornithologist and artist Robert Ridgeway who first described the California rail subspecies. Ridgeway worked at the United States National Museum (Smithsonian) where he served as Curator of Birds from 1869 to 1929.


Other members of the Rallidae family include coots and galliules, or moorhens. Coots are a small, dark duck-like bird lacking webbed feet with a conical bill similar to the gallinules and moorhens. The bills are white with a black band near the tip. They have red eyes and a deep red patch on the forehead, usually only noticeable at close range and/or good light. Coots (Fulica_americana) have a white stripe near their tail.


Coots are a common bird of freshwater wetlands year-round throughout much of the Florida peninsula and the panhandle in the winter. The range includes most of the United States, year-round or winter in the southern states, extending into the midwest and Canada during the summer.

Common Gallinules

Very similar to coots are the common gallinules. Also known as the Florida gallinule and until recently was more frequently called the common moorhen. Differentiated from coots by the white side body stripe, bright red faceplate and the 'candy corn' red beak with a light tip.

Common Gallinule

Gallinules have large feet for their size which allows them to walk on top of floating vegetation. Gallinula chloropus is a common bird of freshwater and brackish marshes, ponds, lakes and canals year-round throughout all of Florida. The year-round range includes much of Mexico and the southeastern gulf coast up into North Carolina. Also isolated areas of the southwestern United States. Migration and breeding in much of the eastern United States up to the southern Great Lakes.

Purple Gallinule

Less frequently seen is the purple gallinule. Porphyrio martinica is a tropical marsh bird that is a year-round resident of peninsular Florida, Brazil, northern areas of South America, and parts of Mexico. The summer range expands along the southeast United States coast from South Carolina to Mississippi, most of Louisiana and eastern Texas. Purple gallinules winter throughout much of Central America.

Purple Gallinule

Purple gallinules have a dark purple head, neck and underside and a green back. The relatively large feet and long toes allow this bird to walk on top of lily pads and other water vegetation. They have a mostly red beak with a light tip and a blue face shield above the beak.

These five birds are half of the Rallidae family occurring in North America, the other five all rails. Those are the yellow rail, black rail, Ridgeway's rail, king rail and Virginia rail.

Paul Rebmann
March 15, 2018

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

January 31st, 2018

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

One of the more common butterflies seen in Florida is the gulf fritillary. This is one of the longwing butterflies (Heliconiini tribe), a subgroup of the brush-footed butterfly family (Nymphalidae). Other longwings found in Florida include the state butterfly the zebra longwing and the Julia butterfly, found only in the southern part of the state.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on Elephantsfoot #2 by Paul Rebmann

The adult butterfly is mostly brownish-orange with black markings on the upperside. There are three white spots surrounded by black near the leading edge of the forewing from about the midpoint towards the base.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on Elephantsfoot by Paul Rebmann

The undersides of the wings are lighter, with the hindwings and tips of the forewings covered with silvery spots. Females are larger and paler than the males.

View online purchase options for Purple Passionflower #2 by Paul Rebmann

All of the longwings utilize passionflower vines exclusively for caterpillar host plants. There are about a dozen species of Passiflora found in Florida, half of them native. One of the most common is the Purple Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata.

View online purchase options for Gulf Fritillary on White Passionflower by Paul Rebmann

This gulf fritillary butterfly is nectaring on a white passionflower, a naturally occurring white form of Passiflora incarnata. The adult butterflies will feed on a variety of wildflowers, such as the tall elephantsfoot (Elephantopus elatus) in the photos above, the pollinator popular Spanish needles (Bidens alba), and many others.

The caterpillar is orange with rows of black spines. A patch of corkystem passionflower in our yard has become a little gulf fritillary nursery the past few years.
At the end of the larval stage, the caterpillar will attach the tail end somewhere, typically the stem of a passionflower vine, and begin the metamorphosis into the pupal stage forming a chrysalis.

The series of photos above shows: (1) the caterpillar just forming into the chrysalis, (2) a typical chrysalis during most of the about 11 day pupal stage and (3) about an hour before the butterfly emerged.

This video clip made from a series of photographs shows the newly emerged butterfly hanging on the exuvia (empty shell of the chrysalis) and performing the necessary unrolling and rolling of the proboscis to form the two halves together.

A gulf fritillary butterfly nectaring on Feay's Prairieclover. Note that it appears that the butterfly only has four legs. The two front legs are greatly reduced and held up against the body. They are covered with hairs, giving them the family name brush-footed butterflies, that act as sensory organs.

For more information about and photographs of gulf fritillaries, visit Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
January 31, 2018


December 5th, 2017


Exploring nature can be fun and full of surprises, such as discovering one of the many varieties of mushrooms that are often found in the woods. The huge mushroom pictured at the top of this post was about a foot and a half across. and is called a Berkeley's Polypore. Virginia & I spotted it a couple of years ago along a May Prairie State Natural Area trail less than two miles from where I grew up in Manchester, Tennessee. This species is also called Stump Blossoms as they are often found at or near the base of hardwood trees.

The Mushroom in the Woods above was photographed near the trail on the lower portion of Jackrabbit Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina. This is possibly a Two-colored Bolete mushroom - Boletus bicolor - or more likely the similar Boletus pseudosensibilis. These are usually found from late June through October on the ground in oak woods throughout much of eastern North America.

This Goldstalk mushroom was photographed in the woods along the shore of Lake Chatuge in the Jackrabbit Mountain campground. Goldstalk mushrooms are found in eastern North America from Quebec to Florida, under oaks and other hardwoods. They are also called ornate-stalked bolete for the reticulate stem.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that grow mostly underground. When the time is right, often after rains, the fungi send up the structure that develops and eventually releases the tiny spores that will spread and grow new fungi. These spore dispersal devices can take many forms, the more familiar being the typical 'toadstools' with gills or pores in the undersides of the caps. Another form includes puffballs like the Barometer Earthstar pictured above that release their spores when disturbed by animals or raindrops. There are other various shapes that exude odors that attract insects to spread their spores, such as in the stinkhorn family.

These aromatic mushrooms are often smelled before being seen. I have come across the Columned Stinkhorn on a number of occasions. These fungi have two to five reddish sponge-like columns growing from a white egg in the ground, the remnants of which can often be seen still attached around the base of the columns. These columns are fused at the top, forming a roof over the dark glebra, or spore mass, the source of the insect-attracting fetid odor.

Some of the smallest fungi I have come across are the Fluted Bird's Nests that I saw for the first time this year. They were growing out of the mulch in a residential yard in Lake Helen near where we evacuated during hurricane Irma. And last year as I was leaving town for the hurricane Matthew evacuation, was the first time that I ever saw a fairy ring.

A Fairy ring forms when a fungus growing underground sends up the fruiting bodies along its perimeter creating a circle of mushrooms. The particular species that I probably saw is frequently found in lawns or on golf courses, and the grass above the fungus is often a different shade than the surrounding vegetation. At least one of these common fairy rings is highly toxic and known as the vomiting mushroom.

These orange mushrooms grow in clusters on dead wood, either exposed or in the ground, appearing mostly in the fall in wooded areas east of the Rocky Mountains. The gills attach down the stem. Jack O'lantern mushrooms are reported to glow in the dark, with a faint greenish-blue light emanating from the gills beneath the cap.

For more information and images of these fungi and see all of the mushrooms posted at Wild Florida Photo, visit

Paul Rebmann
December 5, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

October 9th, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

On August 21, 2017 a unique opportunity occurred for a vast number of North Americans to witness a total solar eclipse. The last total solar eclipse visible in North America was in 1991 when the path of totality passed over Mexico and before that in 1979 when the path traversed the northwestern United States and central Canada. The last time a total eclipse came through the southeastern US was in 1970. I had seen a partial solar eclipse shortly after I moved to Florida, probably the annular eclipse of May 30, 1984. Earlier this year Virginia said that we should go somewhere to see totality since Florida would only witness a partial eclipse and we made plans to do so.

Once we had decided to go, I knew that I would regret it if I did not at least try and get some photographs of this infrequent celestial event. In addition to our viewing glasses I obtained some solar filters for both my longest telephoto camera lens and small telescope. After originally intending to just go to South Carolina - the closest the path of totality came to Florida - we ended up in Clarksville, Tennessee.

View online purchase options for 2017 Solar Eclipse Series by Paul Rebmann

This image is a compilation of photographs made during the progress of the eclipse. Starting with the full sun about 25 minutes before the eclipse began, the series progresses through the increased occultation of the sun by the moon until finally reaching totality. The first image - showing the eclipse just starting with a tiny sliver missing from the sun - was taken an hour and 26 minutes before the last image which shows the corona during totality. Where we were totality lasted almost two and a half minutes, which was very nearly the maximum length of the eclipse anywhere along the path.

View online purchase options for Totality 2017 by Paul Rebmann

During totality we could see Venus, and several of my photographs showed Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, to the left of the sun.

View online purchase options for Eclipse Totality And Regulus by Paul Rebmann

One of the surprises in my photographs, and something that we did not notice during the event, were the solar flares that could be seen during totality.

View online purchase options for Total Eclipse Solar Flares by Paul Rebmann

Yes, the temperatures did drop, from miserably hot before the eclipse started to a much cooler fairly comfortable from a bit before to a little while after totality. As the eclipse progressed the light in the sky took on an odd cast reminiscent of the yellow sky after a severe late afternoon thunderstorm, having a similar visage although not the same color.

For those that did not experience totality, the next opportunity in North America will be in April of 2024. Parts of South America will be in the path of totality during eclipses coming up in 2019 & 2020 and in December 2021 a total eclipse with be visible along some of the coast of Antarctica.

Paul Rebmann
October 8, 2017

Life Cycle of the Spiderling Plume Moth

October 7th, 2017

Life Cycle of the Spiderling Plume Moth

The last week of July found me on most mornings observing and photographing the many spiderling plume moths that were flying around and perching on a patch of red spiderling plants in our yard. It was a fitting coincidence that this was also National Moth Week.

View online purchase options for Spiderling Plume Moth on Wineflower by Paul Rebmann

I had first seen and identified one of these moths four summers ago while photographing red spiderling plants, which are also called wineflower. The odd-looking thin sprawling plants that periodically appeared in the yard around the house are Boerhavia diffusa, a fact that I learned reading a Treasure Coast Natives blog post. Red spiderling is a member of the four o'clock family (Nyctaginaceae) of plants and closely related to bougainvillea, which has similar-looking but much larger flowers.

View online purchase options for Bougainvillea by Paul Rebmann

My moth week observations of these tiny plume moths – they have a wingspan of about a half inch – included all four main life cycle stages: eggs, larvae (caterpillar), pupa and adult.

Spiderling plume moths are tiny, with a wingspan of from an half to three-quarters of an inch. In flight they look like little tufts of down floating around in the air. At rest, they exhibit the classic plume moth 'T' shape of each wing bunched together and held perpendicular to the body. The wings are deeply divided, the forewings into two lobes and the hindwings three. A fringe of threadlike scales give the appearance of the wings being feathered, hence the name 'plume'. The legs have perpendicular thorns, most apparent on the long hind legs held along each side of the abdomen when at rest.

Published observations of these and related species recorded that eggs are laid on the tips of branches near the fruit. I saw eggs in this location and also on the bottom of one leaf. The caterpillars feed mostly on the unripe fruit of spiderling, but also on many plants in the four o'clock plant family. In south Florida the larvae will feed on the leaves of the rare Okenia hypogaea known as beach peanut.

Megalorhipida leucodactylus do not build cocoons, they simply pupate attached to the host plant and leave the cast skin of the larval stage (the exuvia) attached along the stem at the base of the pupa, which is about a third of an inch long.

In Florida spiderling plume moths have multiple broods throughout the year, but are mostly seen July though January.

Paul Rebmann
August 28, 2017

Sources of information about spiderling plume moths include :

The Spiderling Plume Moth Megalorphida Leucodactylus (Fabricius) (Pterophoridae) in Florida and Texas by D. L. Matthews published in the Southern Lepidopterists' News Vol. 30 No. 4 (2008)

Observations of plume moths on North Andros Island, Bahamas, and notes on new records and species previously recorded from the Bahamas (Lepidoperta: Pterophoridae) Deborah L. Matthews, Jacqueline Y. Miller, Mark J. Simon, Gary Goss published in Insecta Mundi (6-15-2012)

Wildflowers and Pollinators

June 11th, 2017

Wildflowers and Pollinators

Recent declines in monarch butterfly migrations and problems with honey bee populations, particularly colony collapse disorder, have raised awareness about the importance of these and other pollinators. One week each June is designated National Pollinator Week, and this year it is June 19-25. National Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership, which promotes events around the country. During one of these events I will be presenting a visual program of 'Wildflowers and Pollinators' at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach on Sat. June 17. Here are just a few of the images and subjects that will be included in that program.

View online purchase options fro Bee Fly on Roseling by Paul Rebmann

Many pollinators visit wildflowers to feed on the nectar, and indirectly spread the pollen from flower to flower and assisting in the plant's reproductive cycle. Some insects actually feed on pollen, as in the case of the female Poecilognathus Bee Fly seen here in the photo above and the video below on Florida Scrub Roseling, a member of the Spiderwort family of plants that these bee imitators favor.

View online purchase options for Green Metallic Bee by Paul Rebmann

Green metallic bees are very common in Florida and their opalescent green bodies can often be seen on and around many wildflowers. Here one is seen flying in front of some Coreopsis flowers, which are the official Florida state wildflower.

View online purchase options for Monarch on Asters by Paul Rebmann

Monarch butterflies make a remarkable multi-generational migration from much of the United States and southern Canada to Mexico and back. Some of these migrants pass through Florida, and some of those stay, particularly in South Florida to breed year-round. Monarchs require native milkweeds as host plants for the larval stage caterpillars, but the adults feed on the nectar of many wildlfowers. Above a monarch butterfly is seen on asters and below on another favorite of many pollinators, spotted beebalm, or horsemint.

Purchase Monarch on Spotted Beebalm by Paul Rebmann

The palamedes swallowtail is another butterfly with some interesting relationships. The palamedes is a primary pollinator of the Pine Lily, also known as Catesby's Lily. The primary host plants of this butterfly are red bay and swamp bay, trees that are currently threatened by Laurel wilt, a deadly disease spread by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. There is concern that the massive bay die-offs as a result of Laurel Wilt will affect the palamedes butterfly populations, and in turn, pine lily reproduction.

View online purchase options for Palamedes Swallowtail and Friends by Paul Rebmann

Thistle is another wildflower that is popular with many insects that serve as pollinators, as can be seen in these photographs. Above a palamedes swallowtail is seen on thistle with various other insects. Below a female black swallowtail butterfly feeds on purple thistle flowers with a gulf fritillary butterfly in the background and a pollen-laden blue metallic bee approaching.

View online purchase options for Thistle Pollinators - Large and Small by Paul Rebmann

Another wildflower visited by many pollinators, and an excellent landscaping choice for people wanting to attract this kind of wildlife, is Bidens alba, commonly called beggarticks or Spanish needles. Here we see a couple of the Florida state butterflies – Zebra longwings – with a Bidens alba flower.

View online purchase options for Zebra Longwings by Paul Rebmann

For more images like these and links to more information on these wildflowers and pollinators, visit the pollinators page at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
June 9, 2017

Life on the Dunes

May 2nd, 2017

Life on the Dunes

For the past several years Virginia and I have had marsh rabbits living in our 'front yard'. I was surprised to learn that they will inhabit the beach dunes since I had usually seen them in proximity to the intercoastal waterway.

View online purchase options for Marsh Rabbit on Dune by Paul Rebmann

Marsh rabbits can be found near freshwater marshes and estuarine areas throughout much of Florida with the range extending from the panhandle up the coastal plain into Virginia. Primarily nocturnal, they can often be seen foraging in the morning or early evening. The tails are smaller than cottontails and dark on the bottom. Also the ears are shorter and rounder on marsh rabbits.

Just the other day I discovered that they apparently like seaside goldenrod sprouts, as one of the patches in the yard was neatly trimmed at about two inches tall. A few days after hurricane Matthew passed by, we were pleased to see bunny tracks on the now flattened dune area proving that the marsh rabbits had survived the storm surge that had inundated the area were they are usually seen.

View online purchase options for Marsh Rabbit and Sea Grape by Paul Rebmann

Spring has brought a resurgence on the dunes, which through the winter mostly only had vegetation that I planted since the hurricane. The searocket has sprouted in dense patches from seeds buried in the sand or caught in the storm wrack that I had placed on the beach to catch the blowing sand in an attempt at beach rebuilding. The seaweed in the wrack also makes an excellent fertilizer for the searocket, a plant uniquely adapted to living in a dynamic environment.

View online purchase options for Searocket by Paul Rebmann

The name refers to the rocket-shaped fruits on this plant of beaches and dunes with various species found throughout the world. These rockets are two staged, each containing at least one seed. The lower stage remains on the plant to repopulate the same area, while the upper stage breaks off to be dispersed, often by water, to seed new areas. The name might also refer to this being a coastal member of the mustard family - Brassicaceae - that includes arugula or roquette.

View online purchase options for Searocket Two by Paul Rebmann

Searocket has small four-petaled white to lavender flowers. The plants are typically sprawling, with fleshy leaves that may be wavy edged or deeply lobed. There are two species in Florida, Cakile lanceolata occurring on both coasts, and Cakile edentula subspecies harperi on the east coast and up to the outer banks of North Carolina.

View online purchase options for Sea Rosemary by Paul Rebmann

Another plant of beach dunes and coastal thickets is Sea Rosemary, Heliotropium gnaphalodes. It is also known as Sea Lavender, a name it shares with a completely different plant, Limonium carolinianum of brackish marshes, salt flats, mangrove swamps and coastal strands.

Purchase Sea Lavender by Paul Rebmann

I purchased this sea rosemary at a native plant sale a week after hurricane Matthew and it is growing nicely.

View online purchase options for Sea Rosemary Flowers by Paul Rebmann

It is a Florida endangered plant that naturally occurs just south of Volusia County, from Brevard County down into the keys. The genus name refers to the form of the flowers that grow in an arc and appear to be arching towards the sun, like its relatives including scorpionstail.

View online purchase options for Scorpionstail by Paul Rebmann

Paul Rebmann
April 30, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

March 13th, 2017

Sandhill Cranes

One of the many cool things about living in Florida is experiencing Sandhill cranes. We have two distinct populations of these majestic birds in the Sunshine State. About five thousand Florida sandhill cranes live here year-round and are considered a separate subspecies from the more numerous greater sandhill cranes that only winter here. The migratory cranes breed in the Great Lakes region of North America and arrive in large flocks during November and December. This increases the crane population of the state about six-fold until they depart, typically March and April.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane at Clearwater Lake #2 by Paul Rebmann

Sometimes huge numbers of cranes gather at Paynes Prairie, or other prairies near Gainesville. I keep missing this event despite numerous visits to likely spots during different winters. This January I was at Sweetwater Wetlands Park next to Paynes Prairie thrilled at all of the limpkins and black-bellied whistling-ducks I was seeing. After spending the morning photographing those and many other birds, I stopped by Paynes Prairie State Park to drop off some ice where my wife was having a women's camping weekend with friends. After that, I was almost home from the over 2 hour drive when Virginia texted that they were on LaChua Trail and there were hundreds of sandhill cranes on the prairie! I might have missed that, but the next month I was back at Sweetwater Wetlands Park co-leading a Birds of a Feather Fest field trip with Greg Miller of The Big Year, where we saw hundreds of sandhill cranes flying overhead.

Sandhill Cranes in Flight

The Florida sandhill cranes are mostly seen in pairs or small groups, sometimes along the side of the road or even strolling through neighborhoods. They are monogamous, breeding in late winter and spring and usually laying two eggs on a mat of vegetation in shallow water.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane and Eggs by Paul Rebmann

For many years, usually first thing in the morning while camping, I would often have a "what on earth is that?" moment when I heard sandhill cranes honking in the distance. I would take a few moments to figure out what I was hearing, and now most of the time immediately realize the source of the distinctive call.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Cranes Calling by Paul Rebmann

Cranes go back 2-1/2 million years with the oldest known crane fossils discovered in a shell pit near Sarasota, Florida. Up until recently sandhill cranes were considered the same genus as whooping cranes, but in 2016 Grus canadensis was moved to the genus Antigone joining species from Asia and Australia. Antigone is the name of Oedipus's daughter/half-sister in Greek mythology.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane at Clearwater Lake by Paul Rebmann

More photos and information about sandhill cranes can be found on my Wild Florida Photo website

View online purchase options for Sandhill Crane Portrait by Paul Rebmann

Paul Rebmann
March 13, 2017

Clasping Warea

December 7th, 2016

Clasping Warea

Clasping Warea is a rare Florida endemic wildflower that occurs only in central Florida. The ideal habitat for this endangered plant is longleaf pine sandhill.

Sandhill is a high and dry pine forest with an open savanna-like understory that is typically made up mostly of wiregrass with scatterings of herbaceous wildflowers. Longleaf pines predominate, often augmented with turkey oaks, both having root systems that allow them to obtain the necessary water in this habitat. The soil is deep sand and the savanna is maintained with frequent small wildfires, naturally ignited by lightning. This periodic clearing of the undergrowth allows the wildflowers to grow without competition from shrubby plants that are not adapted to the frequent fires. Fire is also a critical component in the reproductive cycle of both wiregrass and longleaf pines. Sandhill was part of the great longleaf pine forest of the southeastern coastal plain that once extended from Virginia into Texas.

View online purchase options for Sandhill Wildflowers by Paul Rebmann

Warea amplexifolia is a member of the pinelandcress genus which was named for Nathaniel A. Ware (1789-1853), a teacher, lawyer and land speculator who traveled extensively and lived in various parts of the United States. Ware was a member of the American Philosophical Society, pursuing the natural sciences, including botany and geology, and collecting many plants during his travels. He apparently saw and described or collected a specimen of clasping warea in 'east Florida' in the early 1800s.

Of the four Warea species in Florida, W. amplexifolia is the only one with heart-shaped leaves in which the base surrounds (clasps) the stem. Clasping warea blooms form in terminal crowded clusters, maturing from the bottom up and somewhat globular shaped. The individual flowers are about a half-inch wide with four paddle-shaped whitish to rose-purple petals and six long stamens. The fruit is a long thin pod called a silique that is about three inches long, and hangs down in a curving arc. Warea is in the mustard family (Brassicaeae).

View online purchase options for Clasping Warea by Paul Rebmann

Clasping Warea is one of the subjects in the Only in Florida exhibit that has been showing at the Lyonia Gallery in Deltona. That exhibit ends February 1, 2017 with the next showing at the Kimbell Center Art Gallery at Jonathan Dickinson State Park Feb. 13 through March 4. There will also be three presentations of the Only in Florida program in the central Florida area in January and at the Kimbell Center in February. For exhibit and presentation schedules see

Paul Rebmann
Dec. 7, 2016

Dwarf Cypress

August 15th, 2016

Dwarf Cypress

Along with pines, oaks and tupelo one of the typically 'Florida' trees is the cypress. Florida has two species, the bald cypress and the pond cypress.

Pond cypress is limited to the Southeastern coastal plain from Louisiana to Virginia, plus Delaware. Bald cypress has a wider range, found west into Texas and Oklahoma and north into Illinois through New York state. Pond cypress is also found in fewer habitats, mostly flatwoods ponds and along the edges of lakes, while bald cypress is frequently found in swamps, floodplains and along streams. Pond cypress - Taxodium ascendens - has small leaves that are held tight against the branchlets that usually grow upward. Bald cypress - Taxodium distichum - leaves are spreading with two opposite rows of needle-like leaflets.

When certain conditions exist, pond cypress sometimes can grow very old but remain fairly small for its age. There are two main areas that are known for their large strands of dwarf cypress. One is in the Picayune Strand State Forest in southwest Florida. Another is located in the Florida panhandle in Tate's Hell State Forest.

I almost made it to see the dwarf cypress in Picayune Strand several years ago when I was in the area to attend a Florida Native Plant Society conference, but was driven off the trail by thunderstorms and did not have a chance to go back while I was there.

This spring, after severe weather curtailed what was supposed to be a long camping weekend at Three Rivers State Park, Virginia & I stopped by and checked out the dwarf cypress strand in Tate's Hell.

Dwarf Cypress Strand by Paul Rebmann

At this time, the spring greening was just getting started and the strand was full of water from the recent heavy rains, as can barely be seen in the image above. Most of these cypress trees are less than fifteen feet tall, even though they may be hundreds of years old. These dwarf cypress are often called 'hatrack cypress', a term that seems fitting when looking at the tree in the image below.

Hatrack Cypress by Paul Rebmann

I was back in the area Memorial Day weekend and headed out to Tate's Hell on a whitetop pitcherplant search (see the previous blog post 'Pitcherplants in May') when I again stopped by the dwarf cypress strand. The cypress were greener and the water was lower, and I also found some interesting scenes along the edge of the strand where American white waterlilies were growing in the roadside ditches.

Dwarf Cypress White Waterlily by Paul Rebmann

For more information and to see more photos of both pond and bald cypress trees, visit the Taxodium page at Wild Florida Photo.

Paul Rebmann
August 14, 2016

Rodman Reservoir Drawdown

May 4th, 2016

Rodman Reservoir Drawdown

Rodman Reservoir was created by damming a section of the Ocklawaha River as part of the abandoned cross-Florida barge canal project. Even though the canal project was cancelled before completion, and the path of the canal is now the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, this reservoir remains. About every three years, the water level is lowered primarily to control invasive aquatic vegetation. These drawdowns allow muck from decaying vegetation a chance to consolidate and oxidize, reducing the thickness of the muck and providing a firmer lake bottom, more suitable for fish and wildlife.

Little Blue Takes Flight by Paul Rebmann

This winter while the lake level was down I kayaked on two different days, once near the dam, and the second paddle near Eureka. It was a cool, gray January morning when I arrived at the temporary Kenwood Landing boat ramp. Several dozen vehicles with trailers filled about half of the parking area and the ramp was busy with more arrivals so I parked at the far end and launched from the bank. As I paddled down the canal between the now exposed spoil banks, tree swallows swooped and soared around me and I soon saw the first bald eagle of the day. I know there were at least two eagles, but I am not sure if there were more or I just kept seeing those same birds all day.

Bald Eagle by Paul Rebmann

On the north side of the canal was shallow water with many slanting tree trunks where the crusher was used to clear the forest in preparation for the reservoir. With the water lowered, these provided many perches for the eagles, osprey, gulls, cormorants and herons.

Reflections of a Drowned Forest by Paul Rebmann

On the south side of the canal mostly tall thin stumps are exposed that apparently were trees still standing when the area was originally flooded. Slowly gliding my kayak between these tall trunks imparted a feeling of crossing the river Styx. A number of massive cypress stumps were also present.

Rodman Trident by Paul Rebmann

A sign marks the point where the historic Ocklawaha River channel diverges from the canal (photo at beginning of this post). The channel is a clear path that winds through the forest of stumps outlining where the original riverbanks were. I paddled up the original river imagining what it might have been like when these trees were alive and provided a canopy of green. Was it like the river below the dam to the St. Johns, or more like the still-natural upstream section of river from the Silver River to Eureka?

I continued my paddle looking for some of the springs that are covered by the reservoir most of the time but exposed during the drawdowns. The only one that was noticeable was the small flow of Sims Spring. I continued until the original river channel again joined the canal, then turned around and headed back to the boat ramp. My search for springs will continue on another day.

By contrast it was a beautiful, sunny day in early March when I launched my kayak from the ramp near the 316 bridge at Eureka. A group of teens in an 'Outward Bound' type expedition paddled up in canoes as I was putting my boat in the water. They were near the end of a week-long canoe-camping trip on the Ocklawaha. As I passed the Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost, more kayakers were starting their Sunday afternoon paddles. I would see all these people again before the day was over.

To answer a common question I get when out in a kayak or canoe, yes I did see alligators. Several were lazily sunning themselves on the banks as I headed downstream. Several times a river otter appeared ahead of me, but I was unable to get any photos other than its back barely breaking the surface. While I was stopped to take pictures, one of the kayakers I had passed previously caught up with me. As we paddled along together for a while I mentioned that I was looking for Cannon Springs, and he told me what to look for to know where to turn. This kayaker turned out to be Mark Chiappini, owner of the famous general store & gas station in Melrose.

Cannon Springs by Paul Rebmann

I did find Cannon Springs, and managed to make some photographs before the crowds arrived. By the time I left, everyone that I had seen on the river that day was there to see the spring before the lake covers it up again. In one of the photographs the light on the clear water of the spring made for an impressionist, sort of pointillist style, image, as can be seen below.

Impression of Cannon Springs by Paul Rebmann

Unlike everyone else there who were continuing downstream, either for another night camping or to take out at Orange Springs where they had shuttled their vehicles earlier, I headed back upstream towards Eureka. This was a strenuous paddle as the current was noticeable, possibly the flow from Moss Bluff Dam had been increased to start refilling Rodman Reservoir as the drawdown was coming to an end. I did pause to photograph a limpkin wading through the spatterdock in the river.

Limpkin by Paul Rebmann

My last stop was at the eerily out of place Eureka Lock. Rising up out of a side pool of the river and the woods. Constructed for passage from the Rodman pool to the Eureka pool, then abandoned in place when the project was cancelled. Fortunately the Eureka pool was never created, as that would have destroyed what is probably the most scenic and wild section of the Ocklawaha River, from the Silver River to Eureka.

Eureka Lock by Paul Rebmann

In case you missed it, you can read more about the Ocklawaha River and the Cross Florida Barge Canal in last year's Ocklawaha River post. To learn more about the springs under the Rodman Reservoir, visit Ocklawahaman's Springs of the Ocklawaha River.

For those interested in restoration of the Ockalwaha River check out Florida Defenders of the Environment.

Paul Rebmann
April 29, 2016

Only in Florida

February 23rd, 2016

Only in Florida

Florida ranks as the fourth highest state in the number of endemics, species that are limited to a particular geographic area. Only California, Hawaii and Texas have more unique species than The Sunshine State. Early botanists exploring Florida such as Alvan Wentworth Chapman(1809-1899) and John Kunkel Small(1869-1938) noted the high number of endemic species in the state. The geographic isolation of the Florida peninsula, climate and soil variations contribute to this unique biodiversity. Isolation during previous interglacial periods when higher sea levels created islands in the higher areas is also a likely factor that contributed to the high number of endemics.

Scrubland Goldenaster by Paul Rebmann Scrubland Goldenaster, a species discovered in Highlands County by John Kunkel Small in 1924.

During my years of exploring and capturing images of nature, I have had a particular interest in finding and photographing the rare species, many of which are threatened or endangered. As I learned more about these subjects, I realized that many of them are endemic to Florida. About five years ago I decided to work on a photography project focusing on Florida endemics, which I call Only in Florida.

Applecactus Flower by Paul Rebmann Applecactus Flower, photographed at night along the Mosquito Lagoon near the northern limit of this species' range.

Twenty-one of my photographs of plants and animals unique to Florida are now on display through next February in a solo exhibition at the Lyonia Gallery titled Only in Florida. Other photographers with previous exhibits in the Lyonia Gallery include Lee Dunkel, Eric Breitenbach, Rick Lang, Beate Bass, Eric Dusenbery and more.

Bigflower Pawpaw by Paul Rebmann Bigflower Pawpaw, photographed in the Lyonia Preserve, Deltona.

The Lyonia Gallery is part of the Lyonia Environmental Center(LEC). Originated as a joint venture with The Southeast Museum of Photography at Daytona State College, the gallery is now operated by the LEC. The Lyonia Environmental Center is located next to the Deltona Public Library and at the entrance to the Lyonia Preserve, a 360 acre Volusia County property managed to restore and maintain the natural scrub habitat. Lyonia Preserve is home to a population of Florida's only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub Jay.

Scrub Jay on Chop #2 by Paul Rebmann Florida Scrub Jay in an area of Lyonia Preserve undergoing restoration.

In association with the Only in Florida exhibit, I have developed a program of the same name that will show the photographs from the exhibit and more. I will talk about each image, with information both about the subjects and how I made some of the photographs. This program will be presented at the Florida Wildflower Festival April 2 in Deltona, the Florida Native Plant Society state conference May 21 in Daytona Beach and on August 18 at the first Lunch 'n Learn at Ormond Beach's new Environmental Discovery Center in Central Park.

Bartrams Ixia by Paul Rebmann Bartram's Ixia, discovered by and named for William Bartram.

For an online preview of the exhibit and to learn more about the endemic subjects, visit the Only in Florida exhibit page at Wild Florida Photo.

To purchase any of the photographs in the exhibit and other images of Florida endemics, visit the Only in Florida online sales gallery

Paul Rebmann
February 22, 2016

Children in Nature

November 26th, 2015

Children in Nature

Many of you have heard that outdoor retailer REI has announced that they will close their stores on Black Friday and pay their employees encouraging them to spend the day outdoors in a campaign called #OptOutside. At least one other outdoor sports retailer - NRS - has followed suit. Being out enjoying nature is such a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than the hustle and bustle of the annual shopping ritual, which I cannot remember ever participating in and if I did it was a very long time ago. Virginia & I have spent most of the past Black Fridays camped in a state park for the long weekend, often with friends and family.

We are not camping this Thanksgiving weekend, but we had a very special camping trip the previous weekend at Anastasia State Park. It was our first time camping with children, taking three boys on their first campout. These boys, aged 10, 6 & 4, were relatives whose family recently moved to Florida and were very enthusiastic about going camping and on a nature hike.

Boys on the Nature TrailBoys on the Nature Trail

A torrential downpour cancelled our walk on the beach, but it did not dampen the adventure. Our endeavor to follow the advice of Richard Louv author of Last Child in the Woods and other books on children and nature seemed a success as our young camping guests seemed to have a fun time outdoors and unplugged.

Nature Scavenger Hunt in CampgroundNature Scavenger Hunt in Campground

A great blog on enjoying the outdoors with youngsters is The Big Outside by Michael Lanza where there are stories about outdoor adventures, tips for backpacking with children and gear reviews.

Paul Rebmann
November 26, 2015

Lake Disston

October 19th, 2015

Lake Disston

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of going on on a small motorboat to Lake Disston in nearby Flagler County. This state designated Outstanding Florida Water has been on my list of places to go kayaking, so when my day job boss's husband and fellow Florida Master Naturalist Dale Dittbenner suggested a late afternoon trip I quickly accepted. Also on our little excursion was Chapman Root and Victor Kowal, a visionary artist of St. Augustine.
You can see a sample of Victor's extraordinary work at

Lake Disston is a shallow lake averaging eight to ten feet in depth and covering 1844 acres. This lake is drained by Little Haw Creek, which flows into Crescent Lake. That lake then flows through Dunns Creek to the St. Johns River.

Online purchase options for Lake Disston #2 by Paul Rebmann

The lake is a popular fishing spot, but our attraction was the reason the National Audubon Society lists the lake as an Important Bird Area. Since we got out on the water earlier than expected, and the birding area will be best viewed closer to sunset, we toured the long way around the perimeter of the lake first passing the docks of the few houses along the shore. We did not see any of the swallow-tailed kites that are known to utilize the area of the lake while they are in Florida, we did see some of the osprey nests that, like at Blue Cypress Lake farther south, are mostly in the tops of cypress trees that grow in the shallow edges of the lake.

Online purchase options for Cypress Osprey Duo by Paul Rebmann

The first part of the rookery area where numerous birds were nesting is shown as we approached, framed by a cypress tree in the foreground in the following image.

Online purchase options for Lake Disston Rookery by Paul Rebmann

There were a few roseate spoonbills, but most of the birds were wood storks, cattle egrets and white ibis. The wood storks had young on the nests of various ages.

Online purchase options for Lake Disston Rookery #2 by Paul Rebmann

Please check out the Wild Florida Photo events page for all upcoming programs, festivals and exhibits featuring the Nature Photography of Paul Rebmann.

Paul Rebmann
October 19, 2015

Florida State Forests

May 26th, 2015

Florida State Forests

In my years of photographing wildflowers I have found that Florida State Forests provide some of the best locations to locate interesting subjects.

The 37 state forests in Florida comprise over a million acres of land. The forest service manages these properties for resource management, to protect biological diversity and for various public uses such as hunting, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding, just to name a few.

Many of the hiking and horse trails are featured in the Trailwalker and Trailtrotter programs that encourage keeping track of the trails completed to earn small tokens of accomplishment. I have hiked over 20 of these trails, attaining the Trailwalker and Trailblazer levels. The Florida Trail also passes through some of the state forests, and many of the forests are part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

The natural habitats in forests throughout the state allow native, and sometimes rare, wildflowers to thrive. This is especially true when the appropriate fire management can be conducted, which the forest service strives for as resources and conditions allow.

Purchase Rugel

One of my favorite locations is Tiger Bay State Forest, which is home to a substantial portion of the known populations of the rare Rugel's false pawpaw. Deeringothamnus rugelii is endemic to Volusia County, meaning this is the only place it naturally occurs. Also called yellow squirrel-banana, this little plant responds well to fire, not liking the competition from other plants after too many years without fire.

Purchase Pine Lily and Pines by Paul Rebmann

Other subjects I have photographed at Tiger Bay include Pine Lily and Pines and Milkweed Veins, a close up image of a pinewoods milkweed leaf.

Purchase Milkweed Veins by Paul Rebmann

Butterflies abound as well, including Zebra Longwings and a Phaon crescent butterfly in Phaon on Phyla. The tiny little flowers are turkey tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), a host plant for this and several other butterflies.

Purchase Zebra Longwings by Paul RebmannPurchase Phaon on Phyla by Paul Rebmann

The Florida Indian Plantain,also called Florida Cacalia and subject of the photo titled Florida Cacalia Trio is another Florida endemic wildflower that I photographed both in Tiger Bay and Lake Wales Ridge state forests.

Purchase Florida Cacalia Trio by Paul Rebmann

Clasping Warea, an endangered endemic wildflower was photographed in the Warea Tract of Seminole State Forest.

Purchase Clasping Warea by Paul Rebmann

Goethe State Forest, where I captured this crab spider on a rayless sunflower, is also home to many native terrestrial orchids.

Purchase Crab Spider on Rayless Sunflower by Paul Rebmann

The horned bladderworts at Okaloachoochee Slough State Forest reminded me of little yellow conquistador helmets, which I photographed from various angles.

Purchase prints of Conquistador Helmets #1 by Paul RebmannPurchase prints of Conquistador Helmets #2 by Paul Rebmann

The fetterbush flowers at the beginning of this post were found at Point Washington State Forest in the panhandle.

There is much to experience in our state forests and I encourage anyone who enjoys nature and the outdoors to check one out.

Regular readers may remember my post earlier this year on hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail last December. Daniel and I returned for another section hike at the beginning of March and he posted a 13 minute video overview of this second wintery hike on youtube.

The monthly Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann newsletter has notifications of new blog posts, events and special sale offers. Subscribe here.

Paul Rebmann
May 25, 2015

Ocklawaha River

March 24th, 2015

Ocklawaha River

Florida's Ocklawaha River flows north 74 miles from Lake Harris in Lake County passing through Marion County and along the western border of the Ocala national Forest, ending in Putnam County, entering the St. Johns River just upstream of Welaka.

Purchase Winter Ibis Trees by Paul Rebmann

The Ocklawaha is the largest tributary of the St. Johns River, and Silver River is the largest tributary of the Ockalwaha.
The 5-1/2 mile Silver River is the outflow of Silver Springs, one of Florida's largest freshwater springs.

Purchase Wood Duck and Ducklings by Paul Rebmann

The name is derived from ak-lowahe, meaning muddy in the Creek language.
After the earlier Timucua people of this area were vanquished by disease and early colonists, Creeks moved in as they were pushed out of their traditional homelands to the north.
Those native peoples that remained in Florida came to be known as Seminoles.

Purchase Ocklawaha Oxbow #2 by Paul Rebmann

The Ocklawaha River was one of Florida's earliest tourist attractions after the Civil War, with specially designed steamboats taking passengers along a wild jungle cruise up the Ocklawaha to Silver Springs.
This activity peaked in the 1870's and diminished after railroad service was established to Ocala in 1881.

Purchase Kingfisher and Spanish Moss by Paul Rebmann

The Ocklawaha was intended to be a major part of the cross Florida barge canal, a project started several times and canceled in the early 1970's but not before Rodman dam was built, creating a reservoir out of part of the river.

Purchase Bald Eagle Pair by Paul Rebmann

For a complete history of the canal, one should read Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal and the Struggle for Florida's Future by Steven Noll and David Tegeder.
The path of the canal is now the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, named for one of the people most active in the efforts to stop the canal from being built.

Purchase Great Blue Heron by Paul Rebmann

The July-August 2012 issue of Audubon Magazine featured an article by Ted Williams about the Ocklawaha River titled "Has One Florida Dam's Day Finally Come?".
Recommended reading for anyone who would like to know more about this beautiful river and the struggle to remove a remnant dam from the abandoned cross-Florida canal project.

Purchase Sparkling Jewelwing #2 by Paul Rebmann

Recently a new impetus to removing the dam has come from an agreement to promote Ocklawaha River restoration to improve the St. Johns River water quality to offset the effects of planned dredging for the port at Jacksonville,

Purchase Spotted Sandpiper by Paul Rebmann

The sections of the Ocklawaha that are still natural are some of the most scenic waterways in Florida and make for excellent canoeing and kayaking.

Purchase String Lily #1 by Paul Rebmann

The river is enjoyed by many, including paddlers, birders, fishermen and others. It is a favorite of both myself & Virginia, and we like to be on this beautiful river as often as possible.

Purchase Fragrant Ladiestresses by Paul Rebmann

All of the photographs in this blog post were made along the Ocklawaha River.

Paul Rebmann
March 24, 2015

Operation Migration Whooping Cranes

December 31st, 2014

Operation Migration Whooping Cranes

Each year since 2001 the non-profit organization Operation Migration has used ultralight aircraft to lead that year's juvenile whooping cranes from the breeding grounds in Wisconsin to Florida for the winter. After being shown the migration route once, the cranes head north on their own in the spring and return to Florida each succeeding winter.

In the winter of 2010-2011 I planned on going to one of the public flyover events and was all set to see the whoopers when they came through Marion County in December on their way to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Weather kept the ultralights & cranes in north Florida where they waited until after the holidays, and then resumed the final leg of their flight in January.

This photograph of four of the whooping cranes and the ultralight aircraft are from the flyover event in Marion County just before the cranes arrived at their last stop. The other half of this flock wintered at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

More photos from the flyover event can be seen at Wild Florida Photo and information about of whooping cranes and other photos of these birds can be seen on the Wild Florida Photo Grus americana page.

To learn more about the work and history of Operation Migration visit the Operation Migration website.

Paul Rebmann
Dec. 11, 2014

The Fairchild Oak

November 5th, 2014

The Fairchild Oak

One of the highlights of the local Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail is the Fairchild Oak, a majestic live oak tree estimated to be over 400 years old. This tree is located in Florida's Bulow Creek State Park and was named for botanist Dr. David Fairchild who was fond of and visited the tree regularly in the early 1900s. This is the same Fairchild that Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida is named after. Capt. James Ormond's 19th century Damietta plantation, just north of present day Ormond Beach, included this landmark oak tree.

Live oaks range through all the southeastern coastal states from Texas to Virginia and are found throughout most of Florida except for the keys.
For more information and photographs of live oaks visit the Wild Florida Photo Quercus virginiana page.

Paul Rebmann
Oct. 25, 2014

Great Horned Owls

May 7th, 2014

Great Horned Owls

In 2007 my image of a Great Horned Owl titled "Don't Mess With My Chicks" won 3rd Place in the Florida Birds! category of the Orange Audubon (Orlando Florida) Kit & Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest. This is the story about how I made this photograph.

It was early March when I heard about a local bird rescue. My friend David Hartgrove, an expert birder and active leader in the local Audubon Society had been notified about a great horned owlet that had fallen out of a tree before it was ready to fledge. Having access to a cherry-picker from the local power company, he placed the owlet back in the tree with its siblings. Surprisingly, the owl parents had selected as a nest tree a tall longleaf pine tree in a vacant lot near the intersection of two main roads near the center of town. To top it off, it was now bike week, an event that brings several hundred thousand motorcycle enthusiasts to the area.

I had only seen a great horned owl once. That was in Hillsborough River State Park when my wife and I were heading back to the car as dusk was approaching. That owl was perched on a branch ahead of us along the trail and we stopped to admire it as long as we could as the mosquitoes were just coming out for their evening feeding and we were on the menu. Since I had not photographed one of these majestic birds I now had to take advantage of this opportunity.

After work I went to the location and sure enough, there were owls in the tree. At first I only saw one of the adults, but I eventually spotted three young owls and the other adult. With the rumble of Harleys passing nearby I was able to get some photos of both adults and owlets in the late afternoon light. I returned the next morning for some more shots.

The image of the adult owl appearing to be staring right at me stood out from the rest and gave me the impression that if it could it would say "Don't Mess With My Chicks".

Click here to view online print purchase options for this image

For information about Great Horned Owls and more photos visit my Wild Florida Photo website.

Paul Rebmann
Mar. 6, 2014

Artist Interview

May 7th, 2014

Artist Interview

After communicating only virtually up until then I finally met Florida children's book author Christopher Tozier in person when we both attended the fifth annual Florida Scrub Jay Festival at Lyonia Environmental Center & Preserve. Christopher Tozier is the author of Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, the award-winning, middle-grade fantasy series set in the wilds of central Florida and published by Pineapple Press. He was selected as a 2011 State of Florida Artist Fellowship and he has followed up with another book, Olivia Brophie and the Sky Island. Christopher also blogs regularly, in which he often mentions interesting items regarding Florida nature, especially of the scrub habitat. I was interviewed by Christopher for his blog, which can be read at to learn a little more about me.
Christopher Tozier at the Scrub Jay Festival
Christopher Tozier and his books at the Scrub Jay Festival

Paul Rebmann
Feb. 20, 2014