Category Archives: Photography

Florida Panther Crossing

Florida panthers must navigate traffic, maneuver around walls and traverse ever growing human populations in the Florida panther’s habitat in south Florida. Here are panther crossing signs warning drivers in Naples, Florida, to watch for panthers.

I would have loved to have seen a Florida panther in the wild while in Florida this past winter, although it’s best that they remain away from people.

Florida Panther crossing signs show the perilous route that Florida panthers must take to traverse their territory. They must cross busy streets flanked by walls and navigate through the ever growing construction of homes in South Florida.  There are wildlife refuges for panthers to live in, but their actual territory is much larger, and even in refuges they can be hit by cars. The panther currently occupies only 5 percent of its former range.

Florida panthers are the larger of Florida’s two native cat species (panthers and bobcats). The Florida panther is an endangered population of the cougar (Puma concolor) that lives in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, and mixed swamp forests of South Florida in the United States, according to Wikipedia.

Panthers are listed as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act.  There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  There has been some progress in increasing the panther population since the 1970s and 1980s, when it was estimated only 20 to 30 panthers remained in Florida.

As the human population of Florida continues to grow, panthers will find it harder to find a place to live.  Twenty-one million people currently live in Florida; 16 million lived in Florida in 2000. It is one of the fastest growing states and is the third most populous. People are attracted to Florida because of its climate and long coastline, and I can’t blame them.  I enjoyed a month there this year.  Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental U.S. state with a tropical climate. It is also the only continental U.S. state with a coral reef named the Florida Reef.  Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 kilometers).

In 1982, the Florida panther was chosen as the Florida state animal.

Florida Panther Population Update.

About the Florida Panther.

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Filed under Animals, Biology, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Travel

Marvelous Milkweed

A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly sips nectar from a Swamp Milkweed flower.

Over the years, I’ve planted many plants in my backyard to attract and feed butterflies with mixed results.  I’m lucky to have a lot of tall trees in my yard, but that also makes my little plot of land less than ideal for a butterfly garden.  I only have full sunlight for a few hours a day. Also, my garden adjoins the “rough” of a golf course, and those plants, including poison ivy,  invade my garden. Still, I get a few butterfly visitors who lay their eggs on my plants.

Ten years ago, I planted some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), which grew vigorously, but the Monarch butterflies, which require milkweed, ignored it. Instead they preferred the tropical milkweed, which must be planted every year.  Perhaps the Monarchs were dreaming of their species’ winter quarters in Mexico.  So I  pulled out most of the swamp milkweed from my garden and dutifully planted tropical milkweed every year.

Swamp Milkweed in the rough of a golf course.

Since being mostly banished from my garden (because it takes up so much space), the Swamp Milkweed has now moved into and prospered in the rough of the adjoining golf course, where it is even vanquishing the poison ivy.  Hurrah! I hope the Monarch butterflies find this ever growing patch of Swamp Milkweed and don’t ignore it this time. There are beautiful blooms to sip from and huge leaves to lay eggs on, a great source of caterpillar food. Let us hope the golf course groundskeeper won’t mow it down.

To learn more about Monarch Butterflies, which are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat due to herbicides and other factors, go to Monarch Watch and Monarch Watch Blog.

Here’s on of my posts about Monarch Butterflies: How You Can Help Monarch Butterflies. Use my search box to find more on my blog.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on a Swamp Milkweed.


Swamp Milkweed has escaped my garden and is now flourishing in the rough area of the adjoining golf course.

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Filed under Biology, Butterflies, Gardening, Kansas, Photography

Kansas City Streetcar and The Western Auto Building

 

The Kansas City Streetcar passes in front of the Western Auto Building.

When my family and I left a restaurant recently near Kansas City’s Union Station, I saw the Kansas City Street car traveling south on Main Street. My daughter has moved near the route of the streetcar so some day soon I hope to hop on for a ride.

In the background is the Western Auto building on Grand Street. The building was constructed for the Coca-Cola Company in 1914 and later became the headquarters of Western Auto Supply Company. It is now a condominium residence. The Western Auto sign is a Kansas City, Missouri, landmark.  The Western Auto building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

According to Wikipedia, The KC Streetcar, formally branded as the RideKC Streetcar, is a streetcar system in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Construction began in May 2014. The system opened for service on May 6, 2016. The KC Streetcar is free to ride, as it is funded by a Transportation development district. As of April 30, 2018, the streetcar has a daily average ridership of 5,373 daily riders, logging over 4 million riders since opening.

The downtown streetcar runs along a 2.2-mile-long (3.5 km) route between the River Market and Union Station, running through the central business district and the Crossroads, mostly along Main Street. It makes stops about every two blocks and has 16 designed stops along the route. Along the way it connects directly with Amtrak, local and commuter RIDE KC bus services (including a direct route to Kansas City International Airport), and several B-cycle bike-share kiosks.

Proponents tout this initial linear segment as one of the simplest and straightest modern streetcar routes in the United States. All platforms offer level boarding and real-time arrival information.

About the Western Auto Building.

Kansas City Streetcar Website

About the Kansas City Streetcar

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Filed under History, Kansas City, Photography, Technology

Historic Ben Wheeler, Texas

Pink Ben Wheeler, Texas, Hogfest Bus Photo Print

Pink Ben Wheeler, Texas, Hogfest Bus

Mailmen don’t usually get the attention they deserve. The founders of Ben Wheeler, a community in East Texas, did value its first mailman by naming the community for the man who carried the mail.

Benjamin (Ben) Wheeler, a late 19th century mailman, carried mail from the Van Zandt county seat of Canton to Edom, Texas.

In 1876, a post office was established in the home of George W. Clough.  This spot along the mail route was then named for Wheeler, who stopped to spend the night at Clough’s home on his route.  Clough’s house was about half-way between Canton and Edom.  At Clough’s, Wheeler also got water for his hard-working mail-carrier mule.  Clough later built the first store in Ben Wheeler, and he and his neighbors built a school house on his land.

 

 

The Ben Wheeler Pink Hog Bus has advertised the Ben Wheeler, Texas, HogFest by participating in the Tyler, Texas, Rose Festival Parade. Here is the bus when it drove in the 2011 parade.

Welcome to Historic Ben Wheeler Sign 24x10

Welcome to Historic Ben Wheeler Sign

 

Learn about the history of Ben Wheeler, Texas, and its many activities, including music and food and its annual Fall Hogfest, on the Ben Wheeler Official Website. Watch the video on the site, too! Ben Wheeler is known as the Best Hidden Small Town in Texas.

Ben Wheeler Facebook Page.

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Strangler Fig in Big Cypress Nature Preserve

Strangler Fig, Big Cypress Swamp, Florida Poster

Strangler Fig, Big Cypress Swamp, Florida.

In the photograph above, a strangler fig embraces a cypress tree in Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. The strangler fig is (Ficus aurea) one of the most striking plants in the Big Cypress swamp in Florida. It grows around the host tree, actually strangling its host over time.

The strangler fig is an epiphyte, a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic, such as the numerous ferns, bromeliads, air plants, and orchids growing on tree trunks in tropical rainforests. However, the strangler fig is the only epiphyte that will affect the host in which it grows. The strangler fig grows very slowly as it matures, extracting water and nutrients directly from the atmosphere. As the plant gets larger, it may grow both up and down the trunk of the host tree. Eventually, the strangler fig will reach the ground and start growing more rapidly. The strangler fig encircles the roots of the host tree, eventually killing it. As the host tree rots away, a hollow void is left with the strangler fig standing alone.

Each of the 750 fig tree species found throughout the world are pollinated by a wasp specific to each fig, according to the Big Cypress National Preserve official website. The fresh waters of the Big Cypress Swamp, essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades, support the rich marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast. Protecting over 729,000 acres of this vast swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve contains a mixture of tropical and temperate plant communities that are home to a diversity of wildlife, including the elusive Florida panther.

Big Cypress National Preserve official website.

History of Big Cypress Swamp

The Fascinating Strangler Fig of Florida. 
Click on the thumbnails to see a full-size photo.

David Attenborough, BBC Wildlife:

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Filed under Biology, Environment, National Parks, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Travel

The Smallest Post Office in the United States

Customers visit the Ochopee, Florida, Post Office.

Traveling on Highway 41 in southern Florida, if you don’t blink, you’ll see the smallest post office in the United States. The 7- by 8-foot building, formerly a storage shed for irrigation equipment to water tomato plants, now houses a fully functioning post office.

Ochopee, Florida, Post Office Historical Sign.

The shed was pressed into service after a fire in 1952 destroyed the Ochopee general store, which previously had housed the post office. The post office is in Big Cypress National Preserve.

The building is small, but the Ochopee mail route is large, covering three counties and is about 132 miles long, according to Roadside America.

 

Ochopee, Florida, Post Office, Smallest in U.S. Postcard

Click on the thumbnail to see the full-size photograph.

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Filed under History, Photography, Travel

Key Lime Pie

Image may contain: dessert and food

Key Lime Pie is on almost every menu in Florida.  The original version with meringue is more difficult to find.  The more available version uses whipped cream, which is easier to serve.   My husband and I found the meringue key lime pie at the Key Lime Pie Factory on Tavernier Island just west of Key Largo. It was delicious! You can buy slices and whole pies, as well as a wide range of key lime flavored treats, including frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick

Key Lime Pie is thought to have been invented in Key West by “Aunt Sally,” the talented cook of William Curry, a prominent Key West resident and Bahamian-born immigrant who became Florida’s first millionaire. In the late 1800s, Aunt Sally used ingredients available on the island, which is at the end of the Florida Keys archipelago — easy to store sweetened condensed milk in a can (no cows anywhere near the island), local eggs (there are chickens everywhere on Key West) and the locally grown key limes.  Key limes are yellowish when ripe and are smaller and have more seeds than the bright green limes you commonly find in the grocery store throughout the United States.  In the original recipe, egg yolks go into the filling, and the egg whites are whipped into a meringue topping. More commonly now, restaurants and bakeries skip the meringue and use whipped cream, but the Key Lime Pie Factory in Tavernier Island in the Florida Keys still creates its pies with meringue.

History of Key Lime Pie.

Authentic Key Lime Pie Recipe.

What Makes a Key Lime So Special.

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Filed under Food, Howto, Photography, Recipes, Travel