fitter, happier, more productive

Now that I'm in my late twenties and I sit around working on a computer all day, I decided I should probably be more intentional about getting some regular physical activity. That, coupled with the inspiration of watching my friend Billi run the New Orleans marathon in February, convinced me that maybe if I committed to running a race, the goal would give me the drive I needed to consistently get out and do some running. So I told Billi that MAYBE I would run a half-marathon with her. Luckily, my friend Johnena also wanted to do more running, so we have been training together for a 10K...and maybe for that half-marathon down the road.

Last weekend, Johnena and I ran our half-way race -- a 5K held here in Fort Walton Beach, and sponsored by the Red Cross. It was insanely hot and humid, so it was a tough 3.1 miles, but we persevered! (We usually run at 6:00 a.m., but this race started at 7:30...even that hour and a half made a huge difference in the temperature!)

I felt so official with my race number. Go 52!

Leave it to the Red Cross to supply ponchos for hurricane season instead of the typical race T-shirt. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed, but we had fun laughing about it and taking our picture in our sweet new rain gear.

The sole reason we took this photo was to record the presence of Mrs. Florida at our race (standing in the sash behind me). We had been e-mailed a press release by the Red Cross saying that Mrs. Florida was "supporting the Red Cross by participating in the 5K." We, of course, thought that meant she was running in the race. We totally almost wore sashes and tiaras to make fun of it, but then we realized that she wasn't actually running...she was just handing out race packets. Lame.

Chugging along in the heat...

The home stretch!

If only this picture did justice to how hot and sweaty we were!

We'll be done with our 10K training in just a couple more weeks!!


Spearfishing again

I finally got off my butt and spent an afternoon in the water. The fish on the left are mangrove (gray) snapper (Lutjanus griseus), and the ones on the right are sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus). They're both common, good on the table, and relatively easy to shoot.


Pine Barrens Treefrog et al.

I've been looking forward to seeing a Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) ever since I became aware of them a number of years ago. They only occur in the New Jersey pine barrens, parts of N. and S. Carolina, and in part of the FL panhandle. I am happy to say that I've finally gotten to see them.

This is what their tadpoles look like. These treefrogs only breed in small, acidic pools (like the one below), with dense cover (second photo down), so they can be pretty difficult to find, or even approach.

Here's a video of one that wasn't too shy to sing in the spotlight:

Though common, I always enjoy finding Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea).

These next two species are very similar in appearance, both having mottled, bumpy skin, with light marks below the eyes. In hand, it's pretty easy to tell them apart, and if they vocalize, they sound completely different.

Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca)

Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

With their flexible, sticky toepads, treefrogs are adept at grabbing on to and climbing almost anything. They don't, however, have exclusive claims on climbing skills. The Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), usually seen on the ground, is also quite capable of climbing like a treefrog and could understandably be mistaken for one in the position seen below.

Pine Woods Treefrog (Hyla femoralis)

Spring Peeper (acting like a treefrog)

This first salamander is especially interesting to me, because it is a species that has not yet been described in literature. It will probably be called the Eglin Ravine Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ?), and is in the process of being worked up by Bruce Means.

Dwarf Salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata)

Three-lined Salamander (Eurycea guttolineata) (I couldn't resist including this video of one walking. I love how they move.

One of my favorites, Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum)

Similar to the amphiuma that I posted recently, and another species as yet undescribed in literature, this is a Siren (Siren cf intermedia).

This first snake was the oddest lifer snake I've ever seen. It's an albino Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata). My friend Norm Friedman spotted it.

In North America, a relatively few snake species have some ability to protect themselves with powerful venom. Interestingly, at least 25-35% of our harmless snake species arguably enjoy some degree of protection by mimicking those venomous snakes (H. Greene, Snakes 1997). The Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri), a pitviper, is an example of a venomous "model" species on which a few mimic species can piggyback.

Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake

This young Eastern Hognose (Heterodon platyrhinos) is an example of a pitviper mimic that could be confused for a pigmy rattler. Besides having a similar appearance, hognose snakes will supplement the effect by putting on some pretty threatening displays (see recent post for video of this).

Eastern Hognose

Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)

This was a rare occasion where a Florida Softshell (Apalone ferox) was actually far enough from the water that it couldn't retreat when I approached it.

I found these last two shallowly submerged in backwaters of the Yellow River where they were sleeping at night.

Loggerhead/Stripeneck Musk Turtle intergrade (Sternotherus minor)

young Florida Cooter (Pseudemys floridana)


Proud Aunt & Uncle (x2!)

We are so happy to have Henry Keith as the newest addition to the Jones family! We can't wait to meet this beautiful boy in person! Congratulations Chris & Jess!