Friday, June 26, 2015

Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida - World's Largest Spider


The world's largest spider the Huge Pantropical Huntsman Spider (Heteropoda venatoria) is alive and well and living in Florida Backyards. At about 3 1/2  inches wide and 4 1/2 inches long it is the largest of the Backyard spiders I have documented. Also called a Giant Crab Spider, it is an introduced species from Asia that is now living wild in subtropical areas of Florida. Ambush hunting for large insects like Palmetto Bugs and small lizards at night. Note this one only has seven legs. They are beneficial spiders that should not be killed. More information can be found at:

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Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida


Giant Huntsman Spider in Florida

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly



Male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) closely related to Dragonflies it was filmed over a small stream in the Great Smoky Mountains - its typical riparian environment. This was filmed hand-held with the Canon SX60 HS at full 1365 mm optical zoom - no excuses, but a bit shaky at times.

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Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

Ruffed Grouse Hen Alarm, Distress and Distraction Calls


Sounds of a Ruffed Grouse Hen calling. This Hen with chicks was spotted along the roadside in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina at the extreme southern end of its North American range. The video shot at great distance is shaky, but the fascinating array of alarm, distress and distraction calls are very good - crank up the volume. One who is not familiar with Ruffed Grouse would not guess these were bird calls from the same bird. Varying between the sound of a small dog barking, a cat meowing or an injured small animal such as a rabbit the Hen runs into the deep forest cover to protect her chicks who instinctively hunker down in the tall grass and will not move until she returns. All the while distracting any predator away from the chicks with her unusual vocalizations.

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Ruffed Grouse Hen Alarm, Distress and Distraction Calls


Red Squirrel Craves Salt


Red Squirrel accidentally introduced to a salted roast peanut for the first time does something totally unexpected  - it begins to lick the peanut for several minutes - I run to get my camera and he continues savoring it I guess for the salty mineral content of the peanut shell and never opens or eats it. In fact, he carefully puts it away in a safe place for later use as a salt lick and eats some more bird seed. Of course, you should not feed squirrels salted peanuts - I'll eat the rest of the bag!

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Ruby Throated Hummingbird


Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird has claimed this small feeder as his own now that spring flowers have declined. This video, taken in very poor morning light, is a good example of how the ruby-throat can look pitch black at times and then light up like a Christmas bulb when he decides to flash it - even in an early morning overcast.
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Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wild Florida Corn Snake Behaviour

Video: Wild Corn Snake Behavior

Unusual behavior for a Wild Red Rat Snake as it is known in Florida - also called Corn Snake - visits the Backyard and wants to go one way at sunset - under the patio storage box - and will not be deterred by me. It is Rat Snake mating season in Florida and perhaps that has something to do with its unusual behavior. This particular line of Rat Snakes are among the most beautiful snakes in the world and are very gentle and should never be killed. This is a relatively small one at 3 feet in length, but quite skinny. To see a large one check out:

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Wild Corn Snake in Florida
Video: Wild Corn Snake Behavior

Pileated Woodpecker Pecking

Video: Pileated Woodpecker Pecking

Big Pileated Woodpecker aka "Woody Woodpecker" Part Two. The big "Woody" returns to the woods behind the backyard to show how a woodpecker really pecks wood! Actually quite amazing to see in this clip especially how they use their specially adapted neck and head like a hammer to put tremendous power to the wood!
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Pileated Woodpecker Pecking
Video: Pileated Woodpecker Pecking

Black Racer Snake in Florida


3-4 foot long Black Racer Snake hunting for Anole lizards along the fence line in the Backyard. This is a good size for a Racer. One of the daytime snakes in the Backyard they will move incredibly fast if surprised in the open - moving almost straight like an arrow they are amazing - thus the name "Racer". Here surprised next to the fence they make a slow stealthy retreat - note - unless cornered they will always retreat. These are sweet,non-venomous  beneficial snakes and should not be harmed. 

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Black Racer Snake

Carolina Wren in Florida


Carolina Wren visits the Florida Backyard. A first-time species and capture! Not long, and shot through the glass window, but it shows the challenges of capturing a fast moving bird and at least succeeding and documenting this bird in the Backyard. I see Carolina Wrens often in North Carolina - they are said to be year round residents of Florida, but in over 20 years I have not seen one in the Backyard until now!

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Carolina Wren in Florida

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wild Turkey Hen Alarm Putt Call


Wild Turkey Hen with at least six poults has discovered me filming her and begins a series of unusual alarm calls or "Putts" to alert her young and any other turkeys in the area to danger. She gathers the poults and begins to lead them to safety into the deep forest. Filmed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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Wild Turkey Hen