Very few birds in late December

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I stopped by to visit my buddy Big Red. When there are no other birds around you can always count on Big Red to be there.

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Taking off to catch some fish.

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Mullet up close. Some guys were on the beach catching mullet in a net. After 10 years of watching them jump out of the water in my backyard, this is the first time I’ve seen one up close.  Other than the smoked mullet that my husband likes to eat.

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Sorry guy, but you’re going to end up on a cracker.

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Eating a dropped chip on a picnic table.

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Berries were all over the park.

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Butterflies are still around.

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As well as the yellow beach flowers.

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Weird grass growing on the beach.

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Two female ring billed ducks looking for some action.

Not many birds around at Fort Desoto park right before the holidays.

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A stop by Swan Lake during the holidays.

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Which one doesn’t belong?

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Gotta itch!

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Floating through the lily pads.

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Imagine using your mouth to clean your foot.  Or maybe he’s using his foot to clean his mouth?

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Taking a bath.

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Friends hanging out together.

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Lady ruddy duck floating by.

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Time to take down the tree.

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Last one there is a rotten duck.

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“I’m the man!”

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Getting pretty.

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Gulp!

Another stop on the Christmas tourist tour. My sister had not been to Lakeland before to see the swans so we stopped by Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland on our way back from Bok Tower Gardens. The lake was busy with people feeding the ducks, swans and geese so we hung out for a while and enjoyed the day.

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A roadtrip to see floating cows – Skywatch Friday

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Statue of a manatee at the entrance to the Manatee Viewing Center.

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Manatees kissing?

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A night heron cruising around the manatee area.

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Coming up for air. What a nose!

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This one was floating on his back.

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He started floating towards the boardwalk. I was hoping he would float under us.

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Just as he got to the boardwalk he turned over.

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Tricolored heron flying by.

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Warm water coming out of the electric plant.

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The viewing center is across from the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant. It was not a nice day. Cloudy and muggy but it was still fun being out and seeing all of the manatees congregate around the warm water coming from the electric plant. I should have taken pictures of all of the people. This was the day after Christmas and the boardwalk was wall to wall people.

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Cruising by.

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Lesser scaup floating by on my walk around a small park along the upper Tampa Bay area. They only spend the winters here so I guess you could call them “snow ducks”.

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Backyard birds during the holidays

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In the morning, I saw this great blue heron on my neighbor’s dock.

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Later in the afternoon, he was sleeping on our dock.

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Every once in a while he would look around. I call him Mr. Grumpy Face.

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Back to sleep.

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The neighborhood osprey was back again with lots of annoying visitors.

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A ring billed gull sat across the boat lift from the osprey. Watching his every bite.

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That’s a big fish. I don’t know why he wouldn’t share.

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Then a kingfisher landed on the same side.

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The kingfisher took off after a few minutes when he realized the osprey wasn’t giving up his lunch.

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Then a few minutes later, a little blue heron starts to bother him.

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Not in my backyard but in my in-laws front yard. A screech owl has been sleeping in the roof overhang on the corner of their house. He’s there sporadically. I finally put my camera and long lens in the car on Christmas day and was able to get the above when we pulled into the driveway. I think we’re going to have to name him.

All of the above except for the last picture were taken through the bedroom window during Christmas week.

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Chesnut park on a Saturday morning

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Red leaves through the moss.

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Bright colors on a dreary morning.

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An empty shell floating by.

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Beautiful face through the woods.

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Male downy woodpecker.

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What a cutie.

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Up close.

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There were lots of downy woodpeckers in the park this morning.

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Climbing a tree.

Critters and colors from a cold Saturday morning walk in early January.

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Cute faces at the zoo

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Another tourist trip during Christmas week. My sister and I spent a morning at the zoo. Beautiful and not too hot, the animals were out playing. I think that old turtle face is my favorite. He looks so prehistoric and funny with that blade of grass hanging out of his mouth. He was up moving around that morning. There’s always something entertaining at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

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Traveling light at Epcot – Skywatch Friday

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My sister was visiting from South Dakota for Christmas and we were talking about going to Disney World when we were growing up. She had not been in over 15 years so we decided to go over the Tuesday before Christmas (It’s only an hour away). I take it for granted living so close. I only go over once or twice a year and it’s usually on a random weekday when school is in so I was thinking since it was a Tuesday it might not be too crowded. Wrong! It was wall to wall people. We got there a half hour after the park opened and all of the best rides had been booked for the day. We did ride a few attractions and wandered around the countries. We had lunch in France. It kept getting more crowded so we headed out after 3pm. I didn’t want to lug around my regular camera stuff so I just took my Iphone and all of the above were taken with that.

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A walk back in time

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How cheap was gas when this store was open in 1915?

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The oldest structure in Pinellas County, it was built in 1852 by Captain James  McMullen near Clearwater. I guess they didn’t have to worry about vacuuming.

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My clothes would never get washed if I had to do this.

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Sign over the fire station. It was really just a garage that housed a truck.

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The good old days.

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Power and water in the backyard.

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The grocery store in your backyard.

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Built in 1878, this was a temporary one room shelter that survived over 100 years.

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On the wall just inside of the temporary bedroom was the above picture showing it as it originally stood before it was moved to Heritage Village in 1978.

A few more shots of history from my walk through Heritage Village in Largo in mid-December.

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Playing with his food

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I spotted this ring billed gull trying to eat a fish on the beach at Fort Desoto. It took him a long time. He kept dropping it and picking it back up. He finally got it down and flew away. Ring billed gulls are winter residents. We rarely see them here in the summer.

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