Friday, October 31, 2014

The Magic of Millions of Monarchs

Saturday was the Monarch Butterfly Festival at St. Marks. We have yet to go to the festival as we prefer to go when the crowds are not there. We went down on Sunday. Our older son and his toddler son went with us. The butterflies are rarely on schedule for the festival, but this year they came in with a cool front and were there on the coast by the thousand, if not the million I named in the title of this post.

I counted fifty individuals and estimated the rest and came up with 400 that we saw. They are feeding on the sweet nectar of the blooming saltbush that grows along the dikes.

They have come hundreds of miles already and will fly across the Gulf to Mexico; their progeny will return in the spring, though not as dramatically as the fall. Their numbers in the spring are hardly noticeable.

I spent my time Sunday enjoying our grandson instead of trying to get the perfect butterfly picture. The pictures below were taken a couple of Octobers ago.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Weinermobile!

...."That is what I'd truly like to be  DRIVE!"  Even if the base looks like an El Camino.

Is it somewhat ironic that the store in the background is a Whole Foods?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mind the Handrail

The handrail to the visitors' center at the lighthouse was alive with fall webworms.

It had attracted the attention of this colorful lubber grasshopper that was on the prowl for a snack.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Bronze Has Brass

We have had a hatch of bronze frogs in our little pond by the front door. We are happy to supply them with all the mosquitoes and other flying bugs they care to eat. We love to see them come out and sun on the rocks. They are so brave that our toddler grandson has even touched them.

Bronze frogs are distinctly southern frogs and their call is described as resembling a plucked banjo.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Trick or Treat!

This is a manatee pair decorated as zebras for Halloween.
So clever!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A White Line

The birds are migrating and the egrets have arrived at St. Marks by the dozens. We were amused at how they lined up along the shore, spacing themselves out to fish. But don't they look like opposing teams, ready for the big game to begin? Maybe the tri-colored heron is the referee?

 I caught a black skimmer in the act of skimming.

And it is Florida, so you know there is going to be at least one Gator there!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Orb Weaver

Earlier this month, we went  over Quincy to their fall festival that was held at the IFAS experiment station. It was a rather small affair and pretty much what we went for. There was a big plant sale and other vendor tents. There was art and food and an area for children's activities. This woman was helping anyone interested in weaving a ginormous spider web. We were there early, but I suspect it became popular as the morning wore on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thomasville Fly-In

Saturday before last, we made a little visit up to Thomasville, Georgia for our first time to their fly-in. There were reported to be 300 planes, helicopters and jets participating this year. The atmosphere was all rather laid back and we enjoyed our time there.

What a cutie!

This one gives me nightmares just thinking about the landing.

The wings on the one below could fold up for a more narrow hangar.

After we walked around a while, we hopped on a tractor-pulled tram and rode the loop-tour.
We took a peek in the small museum.

When we were done, we parked at the end of the runway and watched a few comings and goings.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Mix Master

This mailbox is mounted atop a giant, commercial dough mixer.  It serves a kitchen store.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Seeing Kudzu in a New Light

The bloom of the dreaded kudzu vine is so striking and the fragrance is a sweetness that carries on the breeze.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Possum Patrol

We were amused by the design on  this pest control truck we parked by at a boat ramp on the Crystal River. For all of its company's cool name, it had not one picture of a possum on the truck.

Two coons, a squirrel and a bat. But no possum?

My son suggested that possums are harder to draw. 
Well, somebody managed, as evidenced below.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looks Can Be Deceiving

It was B who first spotted this little lump of lichen on a resurrection fern. It was I who struggled only somewhat successfully to get it in focus with my camera. The truly interesting thing about what B had found was that it moved!

It turns out to be the larva of a lacewing. This what the adult looks like.

The larvae have powerful jaws that are hidden under the bits of debris that they stick to their back. They have been observed sticking bits of the animals they consume onto their backs in order to infiltrate undetected the places where these bugs are found. Here is a newly-hatched larva before it begins to stick on its camouflage. The things that look like antlers are really its jaws.

The larvae are considered beneficial insects as they feed upon insects that are destructive to crops and garden plants. They are especially fond of aphids. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Junkyard Blues

So a while back, our older son took his brother to the junkyard to find a part for his wife's beloved Blazer. As they searched for the car they needed that was supposed to have the necessary part, our younger son was stunned to make a discovery. He found my old Jeep Cherokee, that he had also driven for a few years.

The airbag had deployed.

The later owners had put a sticker over the one I had put on when our younger son started at UF, but it could still be seen from the inside.

So very sad!