I've never been a "birder" or had any particular interest, I appreciated birds in general but until we moved to SWFL I wasn't drawn to them as I am now. It's hard not to be enthralled with the great varieties that live here. Walking along and seeing egrets, herons, anhingas, ibis and wood storks among others, is such a change from the run of the mill birds one usually sees their neighborhood. I imagine people that grew up here take them for granted but that doesn't apply to me. I find the variety fascinating and enjoy seeing them around as part of my everyday life. After hearing of them I became especially enamored with Wood Storks due to their unique appearance. My photo of two baby wood storks is among my favorites pictures.
For the first time in over 60 years we now live where we see reptiles every day versus previous locations. The anole, a common small lizard, is everywhere and at times we have to be careful not to step on any when leaving the house. As a rule the reptiles of southwest Florida are mostly harmless and a necessary part of the southwest Florida food chain. The unfortunate aspect of this sub-tropical climate is that it's friendly to many species that aren't native to southwest Florida. Some of the invasives aren't a serious problem but one in particular is resulting in devastating damage to the Everglades. The Reticulated Python has established itself and is expanding its range causing irreversible damage to native animals.
In this category are native animal pictures taken in natural locations of refuges, sanctuaries, swamps, reservations, swamps and back roads we explore. The exception is the Florida Panther which was in captivity. I've only seen one in its native habitat once at a great distance. The otter deserves a special mention because while I was trying to get a shot of a raccoon eating in shallow water, two or more otters were poking their heads up through the growth watching me. Every time I turned my attention to one it popped underwater only to come up again a minute later in another spot a foot or two away. Their behavior reminded me of the old "Whac-A-Mole" arcade game.
I understand that some people move to a new area and settle in happy to know their way around the new town or city they moved into. My wife and I like to get to know the state that we now call home and enjoy getting out and about and seeing all the new home state has to offer. With that in mind we try to do a number of trips around the state, see the sights, and enjoy what's around whether it's a tourist attraction, park, historic location, animal sanctuary, or a beach. The photos in this section are from some of the places we've enjoyed. There are quite a few places that we have in mind to visit as time goes on. Fortunately, most are more accessible being on solid ground unlike the Romano Dome home shown in a few photos in this album.
This category's focus is Florida flowers which are stunning due to the sub-tropical climate providing ideal conditions for a huge variety of plants. When we had a house I always had a flower garden and now, even though we're in a condo, have a small one. The differences in gardening between sub-tropical southwest Florida gardening and Colorado and Minnesota gardens I had in the past is incredible. The possibilities here are virtually unlimited seemingly only eliminating flowers that need a cold Winter to flower the next season. Seeing orchids growing wild and uncared for is remarkable and a great example of how different the flowers are here than previous places we've lived. I've named these with names such as "orchid" and "red flower" since I don't know the real name. Please help me out if you can supply correct names.
Having lived in the midwest and southwest for most of my life, the trees and plants that grow in southwest Florida are something new to me. Again, the varieties are amazing and fascinating in their diversity. Unfortunately, like the reptiles, invasive species are abundant as well causing significant damage to the environment and native varieties. I thought I'd miss the color change in Fall but I'm finding having trees with brilliant colored flowers is more than enough to replace those colors.
From stories I was told by folks after informing them that we were moving to South Florida, you'd think we told them we were rafting down the Amazon River. The tales of becoming a source of food for bugs of all kinds were told with caution that we would regret our move and be forced to spend all our time indoors to avoid these insects. I guess it's some weird human trait that makes people want to tell you the worst thing about a place rather than the best things. Either way I can affirm the stories are dramatizations, and that while there are plenty of insects, they aren't any worse than we've experienced elsewhere. My first year living here wasn't a nightmare of swarming insects but there was one time when I got a mosquito bite.
This category doesn't really require an explanation but I like consistency. Whatever doesn't fit in the other categories will be here. Yes, I know some fit elsewhere such as the rhinoceros, an animal but it's not a Florida animal, so it ends up here rather than the animal category. Initially it has photos taken at places such as zoos, parks, etc. Other photos just don't really fit well elsewhere and get tossed in here as well.