Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit



This is my image submission for  the Word Press Photo Challenge of:  Free Spirit.

I love being out in nature, and I mean IN nature.. especially in the wetlands of our SW Florida swamps.  The peacefulness and variety of wildlife and plant life is amazing.   Numerous things abound to pique the senses at every sloggy turn.  Of course you’re soaking wet, maybe even up to your waist – careful, watch out for that fallen log you have to find a way to go over or under or that hole! – but that’s what your stick is for, probing ahead of your strides…  but…. the water is clear, cool and clean… I call it “refreshing” on a hot Spring day in South West Florida.  No, the water in the Swamp is not stagnant, it’s flowing along and you’re following it around the next turn and in my case, hoping I don’t fall down        (I tend to have problems with gravity.)  I feel best when I am out of doors, hiking a trail or wading in water with my camera and walking stick.






Dragons of the Air and Water



On the grand scale, Tropical Storm Isaac just missed us but on the smaller scales of things.. insect scales?  it was rough for the insects.  Butterflies are easily affected by high winds and rain.  To survive, they find areas in your yard or woods that are sheltered from winds and driving rains.  Around the house an insect may find a quiet corner to stay in, maybe go up under the eves or anywhere that takes them out of direct wind and rain.

This White Peacock Butterfly is lying down, almost flat in the green dog fennel bushes along the canal at Harns Marsh, here in Lehigh.  How’s that for avoiding bad weather?  Make like a leaf.  At first, I thought I was looking at a leaf!  Insects are affected by subtle changes in heat and even barometric pressure, everything from the smallest ant, to the largest butterfly is affected by heat, light and moisture among other things.

This Peacock Butterfly is weathering high winds by hiding out and laying low in a dog fennel bush.


Watching Summer dragonflies buzzing over our backyards, ditches and empty lots, we see a species dependent on the ability to respond to temperature changes in its environment through Thermoregulation.  Thermoregulation is regulating ones internal body temperature even when the surrounding temperature is different.  These animals are also referred to as being ectothermic or just ectotherms – a more common description would be “Cold-Blooded.”  Reptiles, fish and yes, even insects have to regulate their temperatures in order to function and they have learned to do it quite well, not being at the total mercy of their environments.  We see alligators moving in and out of heat and cold to “get just right” or “regulated” internally.

Alligators and lizards have the ability to regulate their internal temperatures by moving around in their environment to cool off in the shadows, or to get warm on a log or bank.   One way for dragonflies to keep from overheating on a hot sunny day is to become less active.  I’m sure you’ve seen a dragonfly perched with its wings pointing forward and down – this is a dragonfly that is regulating its body temperature  by positioning its wings so that they are absorbing less of the suns rays and that dragonflies internal temperature?  around 110 degrees F.

an Ornate Pennant Dragonfly perches on a Blue Butterfly bush in my yard. He’s hunting for other insects to catch on the wing – He’s also conserving energy.


Watching dragonflies, we see another highly efficient hunter capable of catching their prey – mosquitos, butterflies, moths etc.. on the wing.  They like to land or “perch” on a stalk to devour their prey.  If they have devoured a moth or a butterfly, all you may see left over on the ground are the wings.  Have you watched a dragonfly eat?  They don’t waste any time and the prey is quickly reduced to wings.  Summer brings us two Dragons to watch, one of the air, and one of the water.

Alligators and Crocs have been around for 200 million years and Dragonflies around 300 million years.  Both of them share similar adaptations that have allowed them to survive in their environments despite being Cold-Blooded.  That’s pretty cool!


a favorite route to travel


             yeah, this is an   iPhone4GS   image from a truck

My favorite route to travel into Lehigh Acres from Fort Myers Florida, is along the Daniels Parkway corridor beginning from the Gateway turnoff, and heading East, into Lehigh.  Few other routes can take one through as many lush areas consisting of beautiful towering cypress domes, upland and marsh habitats.  Driving this nature corridor through out the year you may get to see:  wildflowers, turkeys, deer, hogs, alligators, otter as well as various wading birds, eagles and osprey.  Parts of this roadway have designated Panther Crossing signs at either end of it with separate day and night speeds so be aware.  During our fall and winter tourist season I often see other photographers up and down the corridor.

According to Greater Fort Myers Real-estate:  “Stretching from Gateway and Southwest Florida International Airport on the East to US-41 and the Shops at Bell Tower on the West, Daniels Parkway has emerged as Fort Myers’s  new “Main Street.”    I think of it more as the gateway to places like  CREW Land and Water Trust  and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary   Both part of the Corkscrew Watershed of which CREW alone comprises 60 thousand acres of protected watershed through Lee and Collier counties.

Should you visit Fort Myers Florida this Fall and Winter, consider spending some time along this scenic Daniels Parkway corridor.  Don’t forget to bring your camera and pack a lite lunch.  There’s allot to see and photograph for the patient imager.  And when you want more, go explore the offerings at CREW Land and Water Trust, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (links above.)    You won’t be disappointed!!!