Tag Archives: Florida Nature Photoblogger

Take a Hike

1 May

 

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

As far back as I remember, I have felt a deep connection to the natural world. Even as a kid, I felt a longing to explore when I saw a patch of woods. I would wonder, what mysteries lies beyond the palms, what earth treasures might I find in the mossy limbs of the oaks.  What creatures roam there?

Going out in nature wasn’t something my family did, so I am not sure how or why I was born with such a strong lure to seek out the answers to the mystery of nature. Today that connection is there, stronger than ever. When I want to find peace, and well being, I spend at least a few hours walking somewhere that isn’t man made. Where the sounds sooth the soul and the presence of old trees awakens your sense of place. The smell of earth and life renewing itself, all encompass my being in the love of God. Thank you dear Lord for your precious gifts.

 

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.  unknown

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world   John Muir

 

 

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.  David Suzuki

 

 

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.  Aristotle

 

Florida provides a unique hiking experience in the United States. Our hiking season, is October to April, and the best backpacking is January through March. Florida is so diverse in environments and scenic habitats. We have forests, rivers, lakes, springs, swamps and ocean.

Hiking in Florida can be tough but so rewarding. Education is the key to keeping you safe and comfortable so you are free to totally enjoy the beauty of Gods creation.

If you know what is out there, what to avoid and how, what to enjoy and how, you don’t have to fear the unknown and can free yourself to be at peace.

Florida is a beautiful and diverse state. The link below will guide you to a wonderful and safe outdoor experience. There are also many driving trails available in Florida. This is a great alternative in the heat of the buggy summer.

 

 

 

Log off, shut down ….  Go outside

https://floridahikes.com/floridatrail/plan-your-hike/

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

 

All of God’s Creatures

17 Apr

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

I am blessed to have Gopher Tortoise live in my yard. They come and go seasonally. I experienced an amazing sight last year that sadly I didn’t have my camera with me, but I must tell the story.

The young female tortoise in the video had just discovered an area in my yard that was full of edible delights. When she was finished eating and returning to her burrow, another tortoise over twice her size had wandered in the yard. When the young tortoise saw the stranger, it immediately ran over to it, lunged and started biting its neck and head, trying to protect her newly discovered food source.

 

 

The larger tortoise got a little irritated and pushed her over on her back, then righted her back up again. Still the little female aggressively attacked. So the larger tortoise pushed her over and righted her repeatedly, about 5 times. Then the larger one saw me and ran away leaving the little female on her back. I righted her and sent her home.

I don’t believe she would have been left that way had I not been there. It was only a display of power and not death.  It was an amazing sight for me. I enjoy their presence in my yard. They are ancient gentle souls and so vulnerable in our busy and dangerous world. Below is a video of one of the female tortoises laying eggs in my yard.

 

 

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature. Pope Francis

 

 

Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. Meistes Echhart

Jesus says of the birds of the air that not one of them is forgotten before God. How then can we possibly mistreat them or cause them harm?  Pope Francis

 

 

We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.  Immanuel Kant

Our task must be to free ourselves…. by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.  Albert Einstein

Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.  Frances Hodgson Burnett

 

 

Creatures will praise God on Earth … I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and on the sea. Every creature in those places was singling, “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and power forever and ever.”  Revelation 5:13

God has given human beings all the other creatures for our benefit. We are entrusted to care for the earth and everything that lives on it. We must respect every creature’s goodness and place in the order of creation.

Walk gently upon this earth.

 

Painting by DiVoran Lites

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

The Living Water of Life

3 Apr

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

A river is a conveyance of the most primordial element of life—water.
This river of water of life is a symbol of God in Christ as the Spirit flowing Himself into His redeemed people to be their life and life supply.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

 

Ancient civilizations sprang up around rivers for good reason. Humans can only survive 3-5 days without water. We need water for basic life functions like circulation, respiration, and converting food to energy. After oxygen (another symbol of the Spirit), water is the body’s most important nutrient.

 

 

A river has three aspects.

Such a flowing river has a source, a course, and a flow.  (Rev. 22:1).
In these three aspects of a river, the persons of the Triune God, the move of God, and the eternal intention of God are all profoundly typified.

The Water Of Life.

 

 

Most Relevant Verses.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. John 7:38-39 

Verse Concepts.

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. Proverbs 18:4 

 

 

Verse Concepts

He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.
Psalm 110:7

Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– Genesis 3:22-24 

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Revelation 22:1-2

 

Verse Concepts.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14

It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Ezekiel 47:9

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Dolphins…Angels of the Sea

27 Mar

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

Dolphins….angels of the sea
Our hearts are with you, little souls, stay strong.

 

Although our oceans teem with life, few creatures of the great blue expanse are as magical as dolphins.

 

 10 fascinating dolphin facts that will make you love them even more.

 


1. Nearly 40 species of dolphins swim the waters of the world. Most live in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans, and five species live in rivers.

2. Dolphins are carnivores. Fish, squid and crustaceans are included in their list of prey. A 260-pound dolphin eats about 33 pounds of fish a day.

3. Known for their playful behavior, dolphins are highly intelligent. They are as smart as apes, and the evolution of their larger brains is surprisingly similar to humans.

 

 

4. Dolphins are part of the family of whales that includes orcas and pilot whales. Killer whales are actually dolphins.

 

5. Dolphins are very social, living in groups that hunt and even play together. Large pods of dolphins can have 1,000 members or more.

 

 

6. Depending on the species, gestation takes nine to 17 months. After birth, dolphins are surprisingly maternal. They have been observed nestling and cuddling their young.

 

7. A dolphin calf nurses for up to two years. Calves stay with the mothers anywhere from three to eight years.

 

 

8. Dolphins have acute eyesight both in and out of the water. They hear frequencies 10 times the upper limit of adult humans. Their sense of touch is well-developed, but they have no sense of smell.

 

9. Dolphins have few natural enemies. Humans are their main threat. Pollution, fishing and hunting mean some dolphin species have an uncertain future. In 2006, the Yangtze River dolphin was named functionally extinct.

 

10. Because dolphins are mammals, they need to come to the surface of the water to breathe. Unlike land mammals that breathe and eat through their mouths, dolphins have separate holes for each task. Dolphins eat through their mouths and breathe through their blowholes. This prevents the dolphin from sucking up water into the lungs when hunting, reducing the risk of drowning.

 

Here is more interesting information:

 

 The evidence for this evolutionary history can still be seen in dolphins today. Adult dolphins have remnant finger bones in their flippers, as well as vestigial leg bones.</divv

 

Dolphins stay awake for weeks on end.

 

Recent research has shown the surprising capabilities of dolphins for staying awake for days or weeks on end — or possibly indefinitely.  On the one hand, the ability makes perfect sense. Dolphins need to go to the ocean’s surface to breathe, so they can’t simply breathe automatically like humans do. They have to stay constantly awake to take a breath and avoid drowning. How do they do this? By resting just one half of their brain at a time, a process called unihemispheric sleep.

 

Brian Branstetter, a marine biologist with the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and fellow researchers conducted a test with two dolphins, seeing how long they could stay alert. According to Live Science:
The scientists found these dolphins could successfully use echolocation with near-perfect accuracy and no sign of deteriorating performance for up to 15 days. The researchers did not test how much longer the dolphins could have continued. “Dolphins can continue to swim and think for days without rest or sleep, possibly indefinitely,” Branstetter told LiveScience. These findings suggest that dolphins evolved to sleep with only half their brains not only to keep from drowning, but also to remain vigilant.
Breathing and not being eaten are two excellent reasons to keep at least half of the brain active at all times. But what about baby dolphins? Turns out, they don’t sleep at all either! For as long as a month after birth, dolphin calves don’t catch a wink of sleep. Researchers think this is overall an advantage, helping the calf to better escape predators, keep the body temperatures up while the body accumulates blubber, and even encourage brain growth.
“Somehow these seafaring mammals have found a way to cope with sleep deprivation, facilitating rather than hindering a crucial phase of development for their offspring,
Dolphins can’t chew. If you’ve ever watched a dolphin eat, you’ve noticed that they seem to gulp down their food. That’s because dolphins can’t chew. Instead, their teeth are used to grip prey. Sometimes, they’ll shake it or rub it on the ocean floor to tear it into more manageable pieces. One theory for why they’ve evolved to do away with chewing is because they need to quickly consume fish before it can swim away. Skipping the process of chewing ensures their meal doesn’t escape.”

 

Dolphins have worked for the Navy since the 1960s.

 

The idea of dolphins being employed by the military to scan harbors for enemy swimmers or pinpoint the location of underwater mines may seem like the plot of a B-rated movie. But it’s true and has been for more than 50 years. Since the 1960s, the U.S. Navy has been utilizing dolphins and training them to detect underwater mines. Much the same way bomb-detecting dogs work by using smell, dolphins work by using echolocation. Their superior ability to scan an area for particular objects allows them to zero in on mines and drop a marker at the spot. The Navy can then go in and disarm the mine. The echolocation abilities of dolphins far outstrip anything people have come up with to do the same job.
Dolphins are also used to alert the Navy to any enemies in harbors. Business Insider reports
“The Navy Marine Mammal Program at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (or SPAWAR) in San Diego, California trains 85 dolphins and 50 sea lions, according to SPAWAR spokesman Jim Fallin.”
There has of course been a good deal more speculated about the uses to which the military puts dolphins, including claims that they train them to kill people or plant explosives on ships. None of this has been confirmed by the military. Still, animal activists have long opposed the use of dolphins for military purposes.

 

Dolphins teach their young how to use tools.

 

A 2005 study by researchers revealed that a population of dolphins living in Shark Bay, Australia use tools, and they pass that knowledge down from mother to daughter.
Individuals in this small group of dolphins will search for several minutes to find cone-shaped sea sponges that are shaped for the task. They tear this sea sponge free of the ocean floor, then carry it on their beaks to a hunting ground where they use it to probe the sand for hiding fish. The researchers think this helps protect their sensitive snouts while they hunt. The behavior is called “sponging,” and the researchers found it was not only the first instance of tool use in cetaceans, but it’s also evidence of culture among non-humans.

 

According to National Geographic:
The hunting tactic was almost wholly confined to a small group of females and their daughters among the Shark Bay population, with just a single male showing the same behavior. The challenge for the study team was to find out whether sponging is acquired through social learning — and therefore evidence of culture — or is transmitted genetically. The researchers analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (DNA passed down by females) of 13 spongers and 172 nonspongers. They found the trait appeared to be passed on mostly within a single family line from mother to daughter and that sponging most likely originated in a recent ancestor. “
It’s clearly culture, and a behavior taught by mothers to their offspring. It’s another bit of evidence showing just how intelligent and social dolphins really are.

 

Dolphins get high on fish toxins.

 

We know that pufferfish have strong toxins. Apparently dolphins know this too, and they use this for recreational benefit. Normally, pufferfish toxin is deadly. However, in small doses the toxin acts like a narcotic. BBC filmed dolphins gently playing with a pufferfish, passing it between pod members for 20 to 30 minutes, then hanging around at the surface seemingly mesmerized by their own reflections.

 

Reports The Independent:

 

Rob Pilley, a zoologist who also worked as a producer on the series, told the Sunday Times: “This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating … It reminded us of that craze a few years ago when people started licking toads to get a buzz, especially the way they hung there in a daze afterwards. It was the most extraordinary thing to see.”  Apparently humans aren’t the only species to knowingly dabble in strange substances to achieve an altered state of mind!

 

Dolphins call each other by name.

 

Dolphins have names and respond when called. Dolphins within pods have their own “signature whistle,” just like a name, and other dolphins can use that special whistle to get the attention of their pod mates. Considering dolphins are a highly social species with the need to stay in touch over distances and coordinate together, it makes sense that they would have evolved to use “names” much in the same way people do.
According to the BBC, researchers followed a group of wild bottlenose dolphins, recording their signature whistles and then playing the calls back to the dolphins
.
“The researchers found that individuals only responded to their own calls, by sounding their whistle back. The team believes the dolphins are acting like humans: when they hear their name, they answer.”
What’s more, they don’t respond when the signature whistles of dolphins from strange pods are played, showing that they’re looking for and responding to specific information within whistles. The research opens up whole new questions about the extent of dolphin vocabulary and also could reveal clues about the evolution of our own language skills.

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Raising Your Own Butterflies

5 Dec

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

Raising your own butterflies
Raising your own Monarch butterflies at home can be fun and exciting. Especially if you have children or grandchildren that can experience it with you. It’s a wonderful display of God and nature. It also teaches struggles and responsibility for being a good stuart of our planet.

Let’s start with what you will need.

1.  You will need a container. What size and what kind depends on how much you want to engage in butterfly rearing and for how long. If you just want to raise a couple of butterflies, you can use a large jar, or anything that doesn’t give off chemicals. Just put a paper towel on the bottom and a stick that the caterpillar can climb up on inside. Mesh or panty hose secured with a rubber band at the top. Don’t use a jar lid with holes poked in because it is not enough air circulation and it can cut the caterpillars.

I recommend, for ease and enjoyment, that you purchase a butterfly house made for raising butterflies. They are made of a fine mesh that the caterpillars can easily climb. They keep out most preditors. They allow air to circulate. They are lightweight and fold up when not in use, and they can be cleaned and sterilized easily. I prefer a large one because I can put in a whole potted plant in it. When it is eaten, I exchange it with another and set the eaten one outside to regrow. Otherwise in a small container, you have to put cuttings in a vase with water. Caterpillars can fall into the water, so be sure to put foil or moss or something so there are no gaps in the stems for the caterpillars to fall through.

The caterpillars when ready to stop feeding, will make their way to the top of the mesh container or a stick. They will either climb a limb that is touching the mesh side, or most likely they will climb down the plant, across the bottom and up the mesh side to the top.
Monarch butterflies are the easiest to raise because their nectar plant and host plant is the same. So you can have many potted milkweed plants in your yard for the butterflies to have nectar and keep some in the butterfly house for the caterpillars. Try to keep the potted plants free of ants and insects by setting the pot on something instead of the dirt. Check plant for spiders or other insects that may be harmful. Water the plant and rinse the leaves before you put it in the house.
There are many sizes and shapes.
2.  Host plants. Be sure to buy enough host plants to last. It’s shocking to see how fast the caterpillars can consume an entire potted plant.
3.  Mist bottle. With all the machanics that go on inside the caterpillar, it needs moisture to be successful. Mist inside of the house and on the plants every few days. You can also keep damp newspaper on the bottom if you are raising them inside. It is better that they are kept outside unless it is cold.
4.  Calendar. You will want to know when to expect stages to happen so you won’t miss anything
5.  Q-Tips. You may need to move a caterpillar from the garden to the buttefly house. It is best to just break off the stem and lay it on top on the designated plant. It will move on it’s own. Or you can take a q-tip and gently work its feet off the plant. Extreme care must be taken not to drop or injure it in anyway.
6. If you have a small container, you can put host plant cuttings in a flourist water pick which will supply water to the plant for a day or two. Or use a vase as mentioned above.

7. Something to climb up on. In a mesh butterfly house, you don’t necessarily need anything for the butterfly to climb up on because it will find it’s way up the mesh sides and form it’s chrysalis at the top. If it is in glass, it will need to climb a stick to form it’s chrystalis at the top of the stick. Be sure there is a clear path from the plant to the stick.  Make sure there is plenty of room for the butterflies wings to expand once it’s emerged.
8. Weight. The mesh butterfly houses can blow away. If you have potted plants inside, there is no worry, but if you just have a vase or something plastic, you may need something sitting on the bottom to keep it from moving. Usually the house comes with tie downs to anchor it, but some rocks or brick sitting on the floor, will weight it down.
9.  Newspaper. Caterpillars poop a lot. You may wish to put some newspaper in your caterpillar condo to catch the frass and make it easy to dispose of. It’s very important to get rid of it – if frass stays in their refuge, they could get sick and die. Make sure where ever you will be raising your butterflies that it is not in a windy location. That will dry them out. Also keep them out of extreme cold or heat. They like humidity, but not to the point of growing mold.
If a chrysalis falls off, but not injured, you can hot glue, tape or pin the silk that holds the chrystalis to the top of the mesh house. The chrystalis can lay on the bottom on a paper towel, but when it emerges, it must have a way to immediately climb up on something to pump it’s fluid into it’s wings.


It will take 9 – 14 days for the butterfly to emerge once it makes it’s chrystalis. Mark it on the calendar. You will see it turn from green to almost black with color showing through. It will emerge the next morning. Probably very early. If the chrystalis stays black for more than 2 or 3 days. It’s dead. Remove it.


When the butterfly is ready to emerge, it does so very quickly. So be ready. Observe the butterfly for a few hours. When its wings are almost dry, you can put your finger under its legs and it should hop on your finger. Walk outside and set it on a flower for some great photos. It cannot fly until the wings have completely dried. It’s a perfect time to get great pictures. You won’t have to chase it all around the garden.

If you see a butterfly laying eggs on a plant, you can collect that plant, keep it in a water source and put it in the buttfly house to allow the eggs to develope and become the butterfly that laid the eggs. Keep picking fresh leaves from the same plant. Most butterflies drink from many different plants for nectar, so your new butterfly will likely have a food source nearby. Having many kinds of nectar plants is the key to attract many different kinds of butterflies.

Raising butterflies can be bitter sweet. They are not all meant to survive. Many things can go wrong and there are enemies lurking. but you can help its chance to survive and multiply. With more and more habitates lost and deadly chemicals everywhere, helping nature is a good thing.

One common problem is when the butterflies wings don’t get proper circulation for the wings to inflate and don’t straighten. It will never fly. The best thing you can do is set it concealed on a nectar plant and let nature take it’s course. Once I thought I would keep one alive. You can feed them red gatorade or cut some bananas or other fruit and they will eat the nectar juice. I wouldn’t recommend doing this. It lived 3 weeks. An unnecessary tedious effort.
Next week I will profile another easy to raise butterfly…. The Black Swallowtail. It loves dill and parsley.

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Hearts Like Wildflowers

17 Oct

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

I hope you are blessed
with a heart like wildflowers.
Strong enough to rise again
after being trampled upon,
tough enough to weather
the worst of the summer storms,
and able to grow and flourish
even in the most broken places.
Nikita Gill

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

Who are You

10 Oct

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

 “May you believe…with all your heart…that God is writing a great story with your life!
May the lies that came your way today fall by the wayside and not make their way into your heart.
May you instead know and believe the truth about who you are and whose you are. You are loved, accepted, gifted, and treasured. You have important things to do in this life. May you refuse to let anyone distract you from God’s highest and best purpose for you. He’ll make a way where there seems to be no way. He’ll move mountains at just the right time. You can trust Him. So trust Him. And sleep well tonight.”
 Susie Larson

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

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