21 de diciembre de 2022

Upcoming Trips

Timeline of where I'll be going over the next year:

  • December 27-30 (2022): Camp La-No-Che scout camp function with my troop in Paisley (North/Central) Florida.

  • March (2023): Malawi!-- yes, my first time out of North America (unless Hawaii counts). It's for family business purposes, so I won't be going anywhere too remote and I won't be safari-ing, but I'm still super excited! I will also have some time to spare photographing birds outside windows in Kenya's Nairobi airport and Mozambique's Nampula airport.

  • April 20-29 (2023): Israel! I'm touring Israel with my church and am super super super excited! We will be going to Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Caesarea, Megiddo, Valley of Armageddon, Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Caesarea Philippi, Gideon's Spring, Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Masada, Qumran, and Garden Tomb!

  • May (2023): Annual Rainbow Springs (North/Central Florida) trip with friends from Senoia, GA

  • July 22-Aug 4 (2023): Trekking backpacking) in northern New Mexico near Cimarron at Philmont Scout Ranch. Will be my first time in NM and in any form of wilderness in the Southwest!

  • August (2023): Driving up to stay at Camp of the Woods in Speculator, NY with friends from Durham NC for a week. Then headed to Niagara Falls for a few days before returning home. First time in NY other than a random time I stopped at a Target near NYC.

  • I highly encourage recommendations if you have any!

    Publicado el diciembre 21, 2022 09:31 TARDE por gatorhawk gatorhawk | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

    What's the Bee doing???

    In January 2021, I found myself watching bees pollinate flowers in my yard. Suddenly one of the bees started to flinch while pollinating a flower. I took a closer look at this odd bee, and it stopped moving altogether. It was there that upon inspecting the bee from just inches from my face when..."OH WHAT IN THE WORLD!", I jumped back. I noticed it-- the perpetrator. Upon research, I found it was an Ambush Bug-- a small insect that stabs prey (usually larger than itself) with a proboscis... and its name fitted the bug.

    It's now impossible for me to touch a flower without thinking a bug is going to stab me with its proboscis.

    Publicado el diciembre 21, 2022 03:29 TARDE por gatorhawk gatorhawk | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

    20 de diciembre de 2022

    Rainbow Springs

    Ah... Rainbow Springs

    Perhaps my favorite part of North/Central Florida. You could even say it's my version of William Wise's Okefenokee. The past few years, we've rented a house along the river with our friends from Senoia, Georgia. This post will somewhat act as a photographic journey of the springs.

    Encompassing miles of crystal-clear water, the Rainbow River has a lot to offer. From kayaking to boating to hiking, there are countless ways to look for wildlife. First off, you'll find the entire river aligned with magnificent cypress trees. These trees provide shelter for Anhingas, Cormorants, and Barred Owls to name a few.

    Wood Ducks can be found all along the river, as conservation efforts have installed nesting boxes to protect the species.
    Otters are also a common occurrence, and Rainbow Springs is the only place I've ever been able to see them.

    My favorite all-time turtle can be found just beneath the surface. Growing to just around the size of your hand, the Loggerhead Musk Turtle is a precious inhabitant of the springs.

    Snakes such as this Banded Watersnake are also a common occurrence.

    Alligators are much rarer on the main part of the river. The individuals that live there though are smart. Because the springs can be full of tourists, they only hunt during the early morning and late evening and are hidden the rest of the day. But you can spot them off to the side of the river and on nearby hiking trails if you really try to look for them. The Withlacoochee River, which the Rainbow empties into, is much less crowded and the water is much murkier. This is the best spot to find gators such as these ones:

    Endemics-wise, the springs offer quite a few:
    The Strap-leaf Sagittaria is endemic to springs in N Florida

    The Florida Yellowcress is typically found in hard-to-reach parts of Florida and can be found at the surface of the Rainbow River.

    The Springs are a great spot to find birds. Swallow-tailed & Mississippi Kites, Limpkins, Barred Owls, Pied-billed Grebes, and Parulas are some of its residents.

    Underwater, looking at fish is usually how I spend most my time.
    Redbreast Sunfish

    American Gizzard Shad

    Longnose Gar

    Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, please ask!

    Publicado el diciembre 20, 2022 07:56 TARDE por gatorhawk gatorhawk | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

    04 de octubre de 2022

    Hurricane Ian

    (REUTERS/Marco Bello)

    Recently, the SW coast of Florida was struck by the disastrous Hurricane Ian. As the death toll continues to rise (103 as I write this), more photos of the storm's aftermath are being released.

    This post isn't very iNat related, but it's very personal. Thankfully my area in SE Florida was barely affected, with just tropical storm winds and about a foot of rainfall... besides 2 tornadoes that occurred within my county and an additional 4 in my neighboring county. Though just an hour west of where I live, roads I used to drive on are now gone (the Sanibel area in specific), and houses and restaurants I've visited (in Fort Myers specifically) have been claimed by the Gulf of Mexico. :(

    My family business, which is in the industry of designing and manufacturing water pumps, has locations all over Florida from Jacksonville to Fort Myers. Here's an example of our pumps in use to drain New Orleans after Katrina in 2006: (NBC News)
    Ian resulted in our Fort Myers location now missing garage doors and a roof. But...things couldn't have been better... not one pump was damaged, not one computer cracked, nothing. The facility already has power and a company from Georgia is already restoring the roof. Praise the Lord!

    My friends, the Morgan family, have experienced dramatic destruction in the Punta Gorda/Fort Myers area. Thankfully they were evacuated beforehand because flooding reached all the way to the ceiling, so they've lost a lot. So please pray for them.

    Now to make this iNat related, vagrants. Yes, vagrants. Totally different topic, I know. Whenever hurricanes or tropical storms tend to blow through the Sunshine State, many interesting tropical species come with them. Kinda like a package deal. Anyway, Hurricane Irma for example (the absolute worst hurricane I've ever been in) in 2017 brought many Caribbean birds into the southern part of the state. This Yellow-faced Grassquit a few days after the storm observed by joemdo is one of them:
    Even though we never really know if these birds are exotic escapees, there's no doubt that we observe a large increase of them after storms.

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my post!

    Publicado el octubre 4, 2022 05:32 TARDE por gatorhawk gatorhawk | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

    20 de marzo de 2022


    Yesterday, I flew back to my home-state Florida after an unforgettable 5-day trip to Park City, Utah. This is my first journal post ever, but surely won't be my last!

    Most of the time I had in Utah was spent skiing and snowboarding. But in my spare time, I had to take my camera out, I was able to pick up quite a few lifers and iNat firsts, mostly of plants and birds.

    First let me just say, WOW, the Rocky Mountains are so different than the Appalachians that I've spent recent years visiting! The jagged peaks decorated with spruce, fir, juniper, and aspen trees make for a wonderful landscape. No, this wasn't the first time I've been in the Rockies or surrounding areas, but I was seven when I last visited the West, which was a Yosemite-Sequoia trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    I was so happy to find a pond, surrounded by an entirely new ecosystem to me, that was filled with wildlife just down the street from where I was staying. There I was able to see my first Wilson's Snipe, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Black-billed Magpie, and Townsend's Solitaire. Each day the snow melted more, and more grasses and other plants became exposed.

    One morning after walking around the pond, the slight movement of some grass caught my attention. I at first thought it was a small foraging bird. After staring for a few seconds, I became confused since there was no bird visible in the small, thin patch of grass. Just then, the most adorable face popped out of the ground. It was a ground squirrel, specifically a Uinta Ground Squirrel, which is endemic to the Utah/Wyoming area of the US. Soon I noticed a second individual in a snow-covered field near the pond.

    Now, for my favorite part of the trip. I was sitting down attaching my snowboard to my foot at the edge of a slight drop-off preparing to snowboard down it, on a relatively warm (45 degrees) yet beautiful morning, surrounded by firs and spruces. As I buckled my foot onto my snowboard on the glimmering snow, a kid a few feet away from me screamed "EAGLE, EAGLE, EAGLE!". I looked up, and only about 25 ft above me slowly flew a magnificent, bronze-colored, beauty... the Golden Eagle! I didn't have my camera on me, but that only meant that I lived in that moment. Two seconds later, it flew beyond the tree line. It was surely I moment I will never forget.

    Thanks for reading!

    Publicado el marzo 20, 2022 04:09 TARDE por gatorhawk gatorhawk | 9 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario