Sunday, August 20, 2017

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly

The Anise Swallowtail Butterfly is a butterfly more common to Western United States, but is occasionally seen in the Southeast. When I observed this particular butterfly on August 10th at the Lake County Extension Service's Discovery Gardens, I wasn't sure which type of swallowtail butterfly it was.

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Observing this butterfly, I noticed it was smaller than the other swallowtails and had an interesting body that was yellow with black stripings running head to toe, so to speak. The Wikipedia reference states the opposite: "the body is predominantly black, with yellow stripes running laterally along the abdomen."

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
This was a difficult butterfly to photograph in Discovery Gardens as I observed it quickly flitting from one part of the park to the other. It did seem to gravitate to the Jatropha integerrima which was just outside the Butterfly House and also in other locations.

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
When I photographed this swallowtail, I had just photographed the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly near the Butterfly House. Trying to correctly identify the Anise Swallowtail, it is smaller than the Tiger Swallowtail and lacks the vertical black striping patterns. "There are yellowish-orange to red eyespots near the tails of each wing, each containing a black pupil."~Wikipedia

Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Anise Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens


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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly is such a pretty butterfly to observe. I have seen several of these type of butterflies in my Leesburg, Florida gardens; however, I have yet to photograph one here. I did observe many of these butterflies in my Jacksonville, Florida gardens.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - Jacksonville, Florida
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was photographed in my Mexican Petunias located in my side yard gardens in Jacksonville. I've also got Mexican Petunias in my Leesburg front yard garden, so I am hopeful to snap a photo or two of this pretty butterfly.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - Jacksonville, Florida
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - Jacksonville, Florida
Checking the Wikipedia reference, this appears to be the female because of its ventral side markings. "The yellow morph is similar to the male, but with a conspicuous band of blue spots along the hindwing, while the dark morph is almost completely black." Pretty cool how the female is dimorphic!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - Jacksonville, Florida
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly - Jacksonville, Florida
I recently photographed a female dark morph, the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly. The wingspan can be up to 5.5 inches with the females being larger than the males.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wind Chimes Noise Nuisance

What to do when you have an elderly neighbor who has three large wind chimes hanging off her carport that chime morning, noon, and night and even more so through the many winds that blow through Leesburg, Florida. No storm has blown these wind chimes from their perch. Gosh, you'd think common sense would tell you to take them down when we have the strong winds blowing through our community.

Researching noise ordinance laws for Leesburg and Lake County, Florida, I just happened to find the regulations for the 55+ community of Highland Lakes Property Owners Association which states on page 5:
5. "One wind chime per residence is acceptable, but must not be offensive to neighbors."
Wind Chimes Noise Nuisance
Wind Chimes #1

Wind Chimes Noise Nuisance
Wind Chimes #2
Wind Chimes Noise Nuisance
Wind Chimes #3
I don't live in Highland Lakes, but do live in another Lake County 55+ community. The difference between the two communities is that Highland Lakes has lots that are owned by the residents and where I live, I pay lot rent each month to the property owner.

The stated regulation for Highland Lakes, "one wind chime per residence is acceptable, but must not be offensive to neighbors" is interesting to note that a limit of one is mentioned. However, more importantly is the fact that it "must not be offensive to neighbors."

The very first night in my new home, I was wondering, "who the heck has wind chimes?" as I tried to sleep. It might have been the next day that the next door neighbor introduced herself to me and mentioned "her wind chimes." I remember replying, "I wondered where the noise was coming from." Being new, it was awkward to ask that she remove those wind chimes. I know I had no idea there were actually three large ones in play!

Then, I was wondering, why weren't those hanging off the side of her house where her bedroom is located? These are right outside my bedroom and living room ... so if I want an afternoon nap, I hear them ... and then I hear them when I try to sleep at night.

Fast forward to over a year and a half of living with what I call "wind chimes noise nuisance." She now knows that these have been bothering me over that time and she has chosen not to remove them. I could maybe hope that I go hard of hearing like some of the previous residents of my home. I already wear earplugs at night to sleep. So much for being able to pick your neighbors ... or their wind chimes.

Reflecting on other wind chimes in my past life, I remembered that my mom had ONE that hung in the backyard of her Brooksville, Florida home. Oh, and I also had wind chimes ... you can spot the one that was mine as it is TEENY-TINY with a small wooden house connected to the wind chimes!


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly has been the one butterfly I have seen the most, both in my Jacksonville and Leesburg, Florida gardens. It is a very pretty orange-colored butterfly that has marking on the underside of its wings that are most interesting. At quick glance, seeing the underside, you might think Monarch Butterfly!

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
I recently photographed the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on several different visits in August 2017 to the Lake County Extension Service's Discovery Gardens.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Visiting the Butterfly House at Discovery Gardens on Monday, August 7th, I noticed a small Gulf Fritillary Butterfly in the cage at the back. It looked possibly newly arrived and a bit in distress. I stopped by the office and asked to get word to John, the leader there. When I came back on Thursday, the door was lying on top of the cage. I did see a small Gulf Fritillary Butterfly flying around the Butterfly House!

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
This butterfly was photographed most often on the Jatropha integerrima plant which was more like a small tree at the entrance of Butterfly House. Throughout Discovery Gardens, I noticed another larger Jatropha. The Jatropha is in the spurge family, native to Cuba and Hispaniola, and often known as peregrina or spicy jatropha. It is a flowering plant I would like to add to my front yard gardens in Leesburg, Florida.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Underside - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Underside - Discovery Gardens
In the photo above, you get a good view of the underside of the Gulf Fritillary. Notice how different it is from the orange-colored topside! It has sections of its wings that resemble a Monarch Butterfly -- at least I think so!!

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
In this photo above, you see how the Gulf Fritillary has nose-dived into the Jatropha flower! I think this gives you an idea of how attractive the Jatropha is to butterflies, particularly this species.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
"The sexes are dimorphic. Females are somewhat darker and more extensively marked. The forewing cell contains three black-rimmed white spots. The undersides of the wings are brown with elongated silvery-white spots." ~University of Florida, Entomology and Nematology Department

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Check out the larva -- there is a great photo on UF's page along with more interesting photos and information! "The mature larva is bright orange with numerous black branched spines." "Black and orange stripes warn predators of the toxicity of the caterpillar which protects it from predators."

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly is "of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae. That subfamily was formerly set apart as a separate family, the Heliconiidae. The Heliconiinae are 'longwing butterflies.'" ~Wikipedia

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Learning more about the Gulf Fritillary, I find the story of the Chrysalis stage most curious! Please take a moment to read that segment of the Wikipedia reference. I was hanging on the part about when "it begins to pump the fluids from its bulging abdomen into its shriveled wings." That action is much like the Monarch Butterfly!

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
If you live in Florida, you too have probably observed the Gulf Fritillary! It is common to all 67 counties of Florida. I am now on the lookout to observe the purple passionflower, a host plant. The female butterfly will lay its "small yellow eggs singly on or near leaves, stems or tendrils of the purple passionflower." That is one beautiful host for such a beautiful, and often-seen, butterfly!

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly in Jacksonville, Florida


Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly -- Jacksonville, Florida


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

The Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly is reportedly a pretty common type of butterfly and also the most beautiful and interesting of the swallowtails. This morning at the Lake County Extension Service Discovery Gardens, I photographed my first such swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
I had recently blogged about the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly and thought, at first, this might be one of them! However, as I walked around Discovery Gardens and then came back to the Butterfly House, I knew it was something different!

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Checking the University of Florida, Entomology and Nematology Department, photos, it appears this butterfly is a male. The bluish color on the bottom of the wings indicates male.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Looking at the body, black with white dots, that is quite similar to the Eastern Black Swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Another comparison to the Eastern Black Swallowtail is the colored spots on the underside bottom of the wings. The Spicebush Swallowtail has an area of blue coloring instead of the spots which distinguishes it from that type of swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
When it comes to mating, "both sexes will copulate with several mates during mating season. However, each time a female mates, she becomes less likely to mate again." ~Wikipedia. "The entire development process from egg to adult takes about a month. Once they have reached the adult stage, Papilio troilus can live anywhere from two days to two weeks dependent on resource availability and predator avoidance."

Did you know that the Spicebush Swallowtail is a puddler? They will engage in puddling as an adult when flying in search of food or a mate. Flying together in groups near banks of water, they will extract moisture from the sand or soil near these banks of water.


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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly is quite the interesting butterfly! It was a very hot and humid afternoon yesterday, August 8, 2017. I had observed this butterfly earlier in the day. When it arrived later in the afternoon, for an extended photographic shoot, it was buzzing away at the burgundy Penta blossoms. It appeared to be intoxicated with this plant!

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
The behavior of this particular Swallowtail Butterfly was much like the Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly I observed about a week ago in the same burgundy Penta plant.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
It is concerning to learn that this beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly is occasionally considered a pest! And, it is also the most common and most studied butterfly!!
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
Observing the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly, it appeared to be intoxicated with the Penta. It was buzzing away, flitting its wings, so much so, you'd think it was a hummingbird. I snapped quite a few photos from my kitchen window and then came outside to get closer. With the butterfly hanging around for what seemed like a long time -- definitely 30 minutes or more -- I was sure I'd get a photo that would help me to identify the sex.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
The first photograph on UF's page on the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly shows a female with its wings spread. "The area between the rows of spots on the hind wings of females is powdery iridescent blue. The blue area in males is much less prominent." Checking my first and third photo, that matches up the blue spots to say this butterfly is a female.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
"The under sides of wings of males and females are virtually identical. The front wings have two rows of pale yellow spots. Hind wings have rows of bright orange spots separated by areas of powdery blue."
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
You can see a comparison of photos of the male vs female Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Wikipedia.

This butterfly has the distinction of being named the state butterfly for two states -- Oklahoma and New Jersey! It's curious to note that its caterpillar is named the parsley worm because the caterpillar actually feeds on parsley. I'd say that butterfly grew up having good taste, but it absorbs toxins from host plants which makes it taste bad to predators -- good news, bad news!

It is an interesting fact that males can only mate-copulate twice a day while females will mate more than once to replace sperm supply. It is impressive to note that copulations will last around 45 minutes.


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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Visiting the Butterfly House at the Lake County Extension Center's Discovery Gardens in Tavares, Florida, on August 3, 2017, I photographed a beautiful butterfly that I first thought might be a Swallowtail. It was John, the leader there, who told me that it was a Zebra Longwing Butterfly!

Zebra Longwing Butterfly
Zebra Longwing Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Did you know that the zebra longwing butterfly (Heliconius charitonius) was designated the official state butterfly of Florida in 1996? That's pretty cool to know.

Zebra Longwing Butterfly
Zebra Longwing Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
I have observed many black colored butterflies in my gardens, both in Jacksonville and Leesburg, Florida. Only recently having photographed this particular butterfly at the Discovery Gardens made me realize that I have probably observed that type of butterfly more often than realized!

Learning more about the Zebra Longwing Butterfly, it is quite interesting to know that when alarmed, this butterfly will make some kind of creaking sound! This butterfly is reported to be the only type of butterfly that will actually eat pollen. I wonder how they know that to be a fact? And, that eating pollen will give them a longer life span of some six months. It is kind of disturbing to know that most butterfly species have a one month life span. How sad!!!

Reading the reference page from the University of Florida, it said this butterfly cannot be confused with any other Florida butterfly. Hey, at first look, I confused it with a Swallowtail ... but am now very clear on the difference! Check out UF's page to see some cool photos of this butterfly in various life stages and to see the awesome host plant, the Purple Passionflower!

Returning to the Discovery Gardens, August 10, 2017, I photographed the Zebra Longwing Butterfly for the second time. That was precisely one week since the first sighting and photography.

Zebra Longwing Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Zebra Longwing Butterfly - Discovery Gardens
Studying the markings on this butterfly, it sure does appear to be the very same butterfly previously photographed.


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Sunday, August 06, 2017

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

It was a distinct pleasure to observe and photograph the Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly in my front yard garden on Friday, August 4, 2017 at about 1:05pm.

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
For more than a year, since I installed my front yard garden in Leesburg, Florida, I have observed numerous butterflies. The most abundant butterfly I have observed has been a Swallowtail. However, this is the first observation and subsequent photography of one so large.

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
This Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly was seemingly intoxicated with my burgundy Penta plant. I easily captured nearly two dozen photographs.

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
The better photographs were taken from my front yard garden. I didn't know whether the butterfly would stay put on the Penta plant or fly away if I came closer.

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
When I stepped into my front yard garden, I noticed a very large Monarch Butterfly just arrived and was flitting around the front of the garden near the Mexican Petunias. As I approached to take just one photograph of the Monarch, it flew to my right near the 3 Firecracker plants and then seemed to fly off.

Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
I am trying to improve my butterfly photography and think I might have a better chance of top-notch photographs if I use a better camera, such as the Nikon D5300. These photographs were all taken with the Fuji Finepix V10 -- that is a fabulous little digital camera that I have had for a very long time!

Underside of Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly
Underside of Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, FL
The giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer, is a striking, wonderfully "exotic"-looking butterfly that is very abundant in Florida. ~University of Florida, Entomology and Nematology Department

If you want to read some interesting facts about the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, you must check out UF's site. "The osmeterium of fourth and fifth instars contains a highly noxious, pungent mixture of chemicals (40:60 mixture of isobutyric acid and 2-methyl butyric acid) that smells like rancid butter."

Did you know that "the larval or caterpillar stage can be considered a pest due to its habit of feeding on the foliage of most Citrus species."


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Friday, August 04, 2017

Whack a Mole

Whack a Mole? No, not the game, but something else. Perhaps a new entry to the definition of "whack a mole?" It was early afternoon of May 16, 2017. I was sitting in my bright red adirondack chair at the front of my house enjoying my front yard garden. Just finishing my diet ginger ale, I happened to notice the mulch moving in front of me. "By gum," I thought, "that must be a mole!"

Eastern Mole of Leesburg Florida
Eastern Mole of Leesburg, Florida
I quickly got up and stepped to the area where the earth was moving [LOL]. With my empty 16 oz. plastic cup, I scooped off the top of the mulch and dirt and then almost immediately spied the little creature. Ah! So, that's what a mole looks like?! With my cup, I gently held the mole in place in that spot. I was looking around for a neighbor to consult with as "what to do?" I had no other container to use to contain this critter.

Whack a Mole Location
Whack a Mole Location - Leesburg, Florida
I can't imagine it was very long that I was stooped over the mole trying to figure out what to do. Maybe, at most, 5 minutes? As I was feeling my back seize up, I went to straighten up, scooping the mole with dirt and mulch into the cup. I looked at the mole in the cup and was waiting for it to all of a sudden, want to run away. You know, like when a opossum plays 'possum? That's what I thought would happen with this mole.

Eastern Mole in a Talenti Jar
Eastern Mole in a Talenti Jar - Leesburg, Florida
It did not feel particularly good to "whack a mole!" Would you believe, I asked the park manager if there was a location in the park where he was OK with me rehoming any moles I pulled out of the ground. "I don't want your mole!" he replied. He also added that I shouldn't be broadcasting that I was moving moles. LOL ... No, I'm not rehoming moles. However, after unintentionally whacking this Eastern Mole, I am thinking of taking a whack at doing it again!

eastern mole in hand
Eastern Mole - Leesburg, Florida
Reading up on the Eastern Mole, there are many positives to having moles in your yard or lawn. It is suggested that they can aerate your soil and also take care of insects. Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, my grandfather would catch earthworms from his yard for fishing. I'd probably be hard-pressed to find an earthworm in my yard because of the proliferance of moles!

It says in the Wikipedia page on the Eastern Mole, "the mole will eat vegetable matter" and "moles do not eat vegetation." OK, that seems contradictory! It seems to me that certain plants in my front yard have been impacted by the tunneling Eastern Moles! I think they might be nibbling on the roots.

Did you ever "whack a mole?" I'd love to hear from you in how you did it. I did it pretty much with my bare hands and with a Jacksonville Jaguars 16 oz. plastic beer cup!! Up in Jacksonville, Florida, I had moles in my nearly 13,000 sq. ft. yard. I tried the pellets and sonic spikes. When I put out the sonic spike, the black male tom cat would come by and sit next to it! Maybe it was a comforting sound or he knew he might whack a mole?? LOL

When I was married and living in Deercreek Country Club, we had moles there too!! I remember actually buying a couple of the Victor Mole Traps for my husband to try. I honestly don't believe he ever snared a mole!

Hey, don't waste your money on pellets, mole traps, or sonic spikes. It's easy, you too can "whack a mole." It does require a lot of patience and some serendipity too.

Whack a Mole definition
Whack a Mole definition
Maybe it is time to add a new entry to the acceptable definition of "Whack a Mole?"

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks are my favorite ducks! I had never heard of such a duck until I moved to the Lakes at Leesburg. It was early 2017 when I first heard the cutest sound overhead. Dozens of the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks were flying into the Lakes at Leesburg. I would see and hear them in the morning and then in the late afternoon as they flew overhead. A neighbor mentioned that they had recently been migrating into our park.

two black-bellied whistling ducks
Two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in Lakes at Leesburg
It was more than a month of listening to the calls and sounds of these ducks that I actually Googled "bird sounds like squeeze toy" to identify this bird. I first found the brown-headed nuthatch which I knew was not the right bird. From the ground, looking up into the sky at the duck, I knew they had a bigger body and had a reddish bill and feet.

two black-bellied whistling ducks
Two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in Lakes at Leesburg
I kept searching and reading people's comments about hearing such sounds and wondering what kind of bird. I initially found the site, Wild South Florida, which mentioned "it gets its name from, uh, its black belly and the fact that it sounds a lot like a squeeze toy."

two black-bellied whistling ducks
Two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in Lakes at Leesburg
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the site All About Birds which is the best site for information and the calls and sounds of the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck.

two black-bellied whistling ducks
Two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in Lakes at Leesburg
After I tried to capture the sounds of the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks as they flew overhead, I walked to the clubhouse where there are a couple of lakes. I was looking for confirmation that these were the ducks I had been hearing and observing overhead. I did a couple of short videos that I shared on YouTube of the flight sounds of these whistling ducks.

two black-bellied whistling ducks
Two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in Lakes at Leesburg
Observing the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks in the lakes, I captured a short video of the ducks swimming and then observed these ducks grooming. What a distinct pleasure to have added the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks to my bird-watching experiences. These ducks are so cool and very photogenic too. I hope you too have the pleasure of observing such a wonderful species!

"Since 2009, this species has now become a common breeder in Lake County, Florida, with adult pairs with offspring seen by lakes and in wetlands near Eustis, Tavares, Leesburg, and other municipalities." ~Wikipedia