Dr. Walter Tschinkel has developed a novel way to explore ant nests. We travel with him to the Apalachicola National Forest for a brand of research that creates works of art, in collaboration with the ants themselves. You can see an exhibit of this art at the Tallahassee Museum through June 10, 2018.
I think all of us at some time have stepped on a mound of dirt, uncovering scores of scurrying ants. Immediately, we brush them off our feet before they can bite us. When we see lines of ants crossing grass, we chose a different spot in the park to have our snack. And we’re definitely unhappy to see them in our house. When we see ants in our world, they’re pests. Continue reading →
The Tallahassee Museum’s red wolf pups are shy, and especially early on, few people were able to see them. Luckily, they became accustomed to our cameras, and so we’ve been able to watch them grow. Below is a documentary on their first year.
Some days, the red wolves are more obviously “wild” than others. One day, for instance, I got footage of two pups fighting over a bone. Just as soon as the short tailed alpha puppy asserted that it was his rib, he became alert. I could hear a police siren faintly in the distance. Soon, all eight of the Tallahassee Museum wolves were howling. It sounded more monkey than wolf-like to me, a combination of longer howls and strange whoops. It was everything I could ask for out of a shoot day. Continue reading →
When I get to the enclosure, three red wolves of similar size are out. At first it looks like three adults, one more than I know should be here. The father wolf has always been easy to pick out; he’s a good bit bigger than the mother. I take a close look at the other two wolves, and it’s the skinny legs that give away the pup. In the almost three months since I last visited the Tallahassee Museum, these puppies have done a bit of growing. Continue reading →
Some of my favorite butterfly shots in this video came from an unrelated shoot. We were at Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy on the day of the eclipse. Did red cockaded woodpeckers get fooled into acting like it was sunset? No, it never got that dark in Tallahassee. But, on the way out, we found our way blocked by the hundred-plus butterflies you see in the opening shots. Continue reading →
In a steephead ravine, we enter a landscape as Appalachian as it is Floridian- perhaps a glimpse at the Apalachicola River of the ice ages. In part 3 of our salamander adventure, Bruce Means climbs down in search of the Apalachicola dusky, an animal he discovered here over 50 years ago.
“We’re standing at one of the places I most love in this world,” Bruce Means tells the camera. “There’s a big surprise right behind me.”
Dr. Means stands in an open field, a row of oak trees a short distance away. When we get to the tree line, we look down. Up here, all we see are the tops of trees and a slope that descends into shadows. At the bottoms of those trees, however, lies the promise of rare plants and animals, a few of which aren’t found anywhere but the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines region. This is a steephead ravine. Continue reading →
The Bradwell Bay Wilderness is dark and mysterious- and full of life. In part 2 of our salamander adventure, Bruce Means searches the swamp for the southern dusky, a critter that has disappeared from almost everywhere else.
Is there something you love doing enough to do it for over fifty years? Some do, and that’s why I’m here today. I’m following Bruce Means into a titi swamp in the Bradwell Bay Wilderness. He’d scour this place as a Florida State University graduate student in the 1960s, and today we’re on the same mission.
After about an hour of searching for salamanders, Bruce Means stops to grab a drink. It’s a hot summer day, and about time for some cool refreshment. He gets down on his hands and knees and presses his lips against the muck on the slope. There, cool, clean water is seeping from an underground lake, creating the ecosystem favored by the subject of our search. Continue reading →
Our second monarch raising season started much earlier this year. At this point last year, we had just released our first six monarchs; as of Monday, we have released twenty six (we released one on August 21, just after the eclipse). Continue reading →
If you’ve been visiting the Tallahassee Museum looking to catch a glimpse of their red wolf pups, you’ve been out of luck. So far, anyway. They’re growing fast, and their behavior is changing as they grow. There is a pattern to my two shoot days with them. After the animal exhibit trails close, they start to poke their heads out. When the animal staff heads out on their cart, the four pups come out and explore. Continue reading →
We’ll be visiting the Tallahassee Museum every few weeks to see how their four red wolf pups are growing. If you missed it, we had previously visited the Museum when their mother was pregnant with them. We also took a look at the Museum’s role within the overall effort to restore this native predator to the American southeast. We also visited Saint Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, a red wolf island propagation site within the system.
Yesterday, the Tallahassee Museum reopened its red wolf exhibit. Their four new pups are two months old, and they’re still kind of shy. But, if you’re patient, you may get a look at one of them. Last Friday, I took a camera down to get the shots in the video above. After two-and-a-half hours, people stopped coming and little heads topped up from the wolf den. Thirty minutes after that, perhaps they felt better about my presence; they came out and played with their dad for a few minutes (The mom came out for a total of ten seconds during my time there). Continue reading →