Each and every day, this spider (a male in this case, females have green legs) will create a new orb shaped masterpiece, an engineering marvel that is typically near horizontally so that winds will not tear it apart. It is perfectly suited to allow larger prey to pass through it and prey of the perfect size to land, get stuck and vibrate the sticky strands of silk alerting this trapper. Popular in Florida citrus groves, they also frequent flatland meadows. Once the web is complete, the clever spider will rest on the underside of the hub where it can feel the next meal arrive. It does have a natural enemy, and that is the pupae of a wasp which will attach itself to the abdomen and literally suck the life out of this spectacular creature.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO 200
Who knows what befell this beautiful Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, but he will not be hopping anytime soon. Poor fellow lost his left rear jumper leg before our very eyes. Really quite sad how brutal nature can be. The Lubber, Romalea Microptera, is often used in biology class for dissecting. Romalea, also unable to fly, sequesters and synthesizes chemicals from the plants it eats, turning them into toxic secretions that predators learn quickly to avoid. A Shrike (Shrike the Impaler) might take this lovely Romalea and impale him on a thorn, leaving him to dry for a few days by which time the toxins will have vanished making for a well deserved meal.
Nikon Z6, 28-399mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 400
Friday night, hanging around Fort Myers Beach listening to the music (and the quasi, albeit prophetic, preacher on the corner with a megaphone warning all who would listen the end is near). Those were the days. I was never a crowd person, but this I miss. The ease of it all, the music, the wonderful restaurants. We were so lucky to have enjoyed the ambiance, the sound, the service, the food, the gift of gathering. Did I mention the food? Oh my, so much good food. Who would of thought. One day soon, we again will cherish, more than ever, those moments we can gather and break bread together.
Nikon D610, 2mm, f/3.5, 1/30sec, ISO 9000
I felt fortunate to witness dozens of birds flying, landing, resting, foraging and hunting. Amongst them, some I had never seen*. Roseate Spoonbill* with their astonishing pink wings, the threatened Wood Stork* with black feathers and long crustaceous neck, White Ibis with pure white body, red beak and feet, Great Egret* with curled giraffe like necks, Cormorant drying in the breeze with their spread wings, brilliant red-wing black birds, I had difficulty picking the photo of the day, but settled on this one which showed all of the above in graceful flight. It was breathtaking to see. And to think, this was in the middle of a densely populated residential community. Powell Creek Preserve is a mere 77 acres, but is fundamental to water treatment before heading downstream to the Caloosahatchee River.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 190mm, F5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 400
The sun seemed to be rising at an appropriate time for me this Sunday morning, about 8 o'clock. I shot off three dozen shots as the solar sphere rose out of hiding, not because it looked like this, but because I knew it could look like this. The contrast was obvious, but there was more. The luminous edges of the cloud mountains, the highlight of the mist in the valleys, the dreamlike glow of the background. It was magic. Sometimes the camera sees much clearer than do we and when you get to know your camera, you learn a new way of seeing, a greater vision.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/18, 1/4000 sec, ISO 100
Kind of an interesting shot of our neighborhood at night from 84 meters. I flew the drone straight up fearing that if I travelled in an other than vertical direction, I may never find my drone again. It does have a beacon light blinking on the bottom of the aircraft, but at near 300' in the air, it is difficult to see. I also shot Fort Myers (5 miles away), but the photos were only fair. Fort Myers skyline is not like Miami or New York.
DJI Mini, 4mm, f/2.8, 1 sec, ISO 3200, Altitude 84 meters
...was given its name by French explorers. Native Americans told them the plant was called Itla-okla, which meant “tree hair.” The French were reminded of the Spanish conquistadors’ long beards, so they called it Barbe Espagnol, or “Spanish Beard.” The Spaniards got back at them by calling the plant Cabello Francés, or “French Hair.” The French name won out, and as time went by Spanish Beard changed to Spanish moss.
It doesn't put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris. The plant’s tissues can hold more water than the plant needs, to keep it going through dry periods. When the tissues plump up after a rain, Spanish moss appears more green. As the water is used, it returns to a gray hue.
Spanish moss provides a great nesting and breeding location for insects and small animals. Bats rest in its strands during the day. Certain butterflies settle in it at night. Birds use it as nest-building material. Frogs, lizards and snakes find it a source of both food and protection.
If you plan to make use of Spanish Moss (fertilizer, decorating, mulch), be careful.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 100
I took dozens of pictures of this guy who was holding on tight in the gusty breeze. There is no way to tell if you have the focus spot-on while looking through the lens. You don't know till "post" when you develop the pictures. Well I got a few good ones. If you can see the little hairs on its head and abdomen, cell structure of the wings or the spiney thorns on his legs, you know you have a pretty good shot. There are better photographers with better equipment that could have drawn out the cells of the eyes (just search dragonfly on flickr.com), but this doesn't disappoint me. I love the design of a dragonfly wings, always unique, always spectacular. Just think what we might be able to do with four arms and two legs.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 100
I learned a lot today. All because this Cessna 337C Push-Pull buzzed overhead AGAIN. So what have I learned? (1) The FAA at registry.faa.gov has a publicly available registry of all planes. You can see planes registered in a state or city. An Excel extract is available. There are 3,133 registered planes in the US, 679 in Florida, 19 in North Fort Myers. You can search by FAA Call letters. In this case, they are N2610S which I could read from my photographs. I now know the owner (Dave) and where he lives plus other information. I know the plane, known as the Cessna Skymaster, was produced between 1963 and 1982. This one was built in 1968. It has tandem props, one pushing and one pulling. Home is the Punta Gorda Airport, (2) Controller.com will tell you that you can own your own 1966 Cessna Skymaster with 3160 hrs for a mere $70,000 or $553 per month. (3) Flightaware.com tracks flights of almost all aircraft. Some information is sketchy if a flight plan is not filed. Considered a position-only-flight, it obtains its information from an ADS-B satellite tracking system (transmission from the aircraft and received at numerous receiving stations). I could see that the plane took off from Punta Gorda Airport at 12:18PM, flew at a top speed of 161 mph, a top altitude of 1,175 ft and landed 6 minutes and 16 miles later at Pine Shadows AirPark. (4) Airport-data.com will tell you everything the FAA knows about an airport including photograph, location, elevation owner and manager. Pine Shadows AirPark is a privately owned air field owned by the Pine Shadows AirPark Homeowners Assn. Most residents of this small community have some type of aircraft. It has a 3,200' x 50' asphalt runway 09 and 27. Those with helicopters need not care about the runway. What I don't know is why Dave flies this plane from Punta Gorda to Pine Shadows with regularity. Hmmmm.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 100
I went to the water today. I miss it. I took some pictures of the water, some boats, some really nice boats and some REALLY nice boats at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. But today I chose this gal I found walking the streets as if she too was not allowed on the docks or in Centennial Park. Can't get over her blue eyes. The pavement must have been toasty, but it didn't seem to phase her.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 230mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 640
Alligators are pretty common around here. This portly prehistoric pretender is faking a nap. She is however incredibly aware of her surroundings. She won't let anyone get too close. As I approached, albeit from the other side of the pond, she took to the water with a splash reminiscent of a Tarzan movie (the ones with Johnny Weissmuller not Gordon Scott). Showing only eyes and nose, she is at peace in the water and may rest comfortably. She claims ownership of this pond without argument from me or anyone else.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, F/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 640
I am not sure what it is about this picture that captured me. The glistening stars of color that pop in the background? The bokeh surrounding the halo leaves in the center? The obvious narrow depth of field? Or is it the contrast of death surrounded by life and how much more beautiful life is no matter what?
This brown heron had something in its mouth that she didn't want to share with me. Of course she did not know that I just wanted to take her picture. I was pretty lucky with the focus.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 210mm, F/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 640
This is a panorama of 5 merged photos. Ball view from the red tees (no longer referred to as the ladies tee) of the number-one hole at Magnolia Landing, a dog-legged left with water on the left and sandy beaches on the right. In my backyard and usually on a Saturday, I sometimes encounter power hitters who have sliced the ball over the first bunker. "Out of Bounds" I scream in my mind. It's obvious they don't hear.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 28mm, f/22, 1/50 sec., ISO 640
This tricolored heron, responding to nearby paparazzi, bowed as if to say, "I know, I know, I am a gorgeous specimen". Conceit runs rampant in birds.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 200
Not an insect, it is a myriapod aka lotsafeet. These impressive vegetarians have been around for 25 million years. Although some enjoy these little creatures as pets, picking up those found in the wild are likely to share a defensive secretion which just might cause burning, itching, blisters or nausea.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/13, 1/60 sec, ISO 200
Continuing with my insect series, here is an enterprising pollen collector having his way with a primrose willow albeit a rather embarrassing rear-end view. These flowers, filled with sweet nectar, are everywhere and attract all sorts visitors.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 200
This is a Southeastern Lubber. A relatively large grasshopper about 3 1/2 inches long. Apparently they cannot fly, but they can flap their wings with a fury. This one would never face me head on. As I circled it to try and get a portrait, it would turn its back to me as if to snub me. Probably eons of protecting itself from the loggerhead shrike, a chickadee like bird that decapitates these guys and then impales them onto a thorn or barbed wire fence so the sun can bake out the toxins before enjoying a hearty meal.
Nikon Z6, 28-300mm, 300mm, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 200
Early Easter dinner for a group of greedy red ants having their way with an innocent millipede. I wonder if ants sit back with their big belly's and put their feet up after a big meal.
Happy Easter everyone!
Nikon Z6, Tamron 150-600mm, 600mm, f/10, 1/250 sec, ISO 200
We have babies! Found a couple of baby alligators in the ponds near home. Maybe 18" long. They are so cute. Not sure who was more cautious, them or us. How close do you think Momma is?
Nikon Z6, 105mm, f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO 200
Spectacular moon this evening. It was full night before last, but tonight it maintains 97% illumination. A mere 272 thousand miles away, it just seemed to glow orange (not pink). And if you look closely, you can see stars in the background not visible to the naked eye. Not just white stars, but red, blue, green and yellow stars. What was most interesting to me was you can't see stars around the perimeter of the moon -- as if there was an atmosphere blocking clear view.
Nikon Z6, 600mm Tamron, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 200
OK, these little guys are all around. But I never realized that 1] they jump and 2] they are frightening close up. They have these chelicerae or jaws that protrude from their mouths. Reminds me of those great sci-fi movies from the 60's. You don't know what harm they might cause if they took a little nip out of you. Just gives you the heebie jeebies. This six-eyed monster attacked me after I took its photo.
Nikon Z6, 105mm, f/9, 1/800 sec, ISO 200
I couldn't see the sun at ground level, so I flew up to 400 feet and it was peeking through the clouds. The camera on the drone is just ok. Difficult to get the light right with the contrast. HDR (high dynamic range) isn't available. If only I had one of those passenger drones, oh the pictures I could take.
DJI f/2.8, 1/400 sec, 4mm, ISO 100
Our hibiscus is a pretty ugly plant all things considered. Scraggly you might say. But every day it seems to muster all its strength to pop one of these out. I am impressed.
I dug out my 105mm lens today. It does such a nice job on things close. But I had to re-learn lessons on depth of field, the more open the aperture, the shorter the depth of field. The less open the aperture, the longer the lens must be open which makes for a shaky photo. The balance must be right-on! This was taken at f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 100. I think I got it!
Nikon Z6, FTZ, 105mm, f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 100
Near where I live these days is a 2,600 acre preserve. Prairie Pines Preserve has more than 10 miles of trails available for hiking, horseback riding and some available for biking. I can almost access this preserve from my community however there is a canal running 3 miles north to south between my access path and the preserve. Crossing this canal, although shallow in places is fraught with danger. Snakes and alligators come to mind. In this photo, you can see the narrow path running north, the canal to the east and then Yellow Trail in Prairie Pines Preserve all running parallel. One day, I will muster the courage to cross the great divide. This photo is part of a video of the area. Watch video on YouYube.
DJI Mini, 4mm, f/2.8, 1/640 sec, ISO 100 Altitude 85 meters
I am Robert McKay Jones, a photographer from Sterling, Massachusetts and North Fort Myers, FL. I take photographs almost every day. I post my favorites here.