I counted 24 baby moorhens from several different families at the Largo Nature Preserve in mid-May. It’s that time of the year when these crazy looking babies with the big yellow feet are everywhere. They are so funny to watch, always chasing after Mom for a snack. One parent had 4 babies. Two of them had one eye that was still closed. I’m not sure how long they will survive with only one eye. Especially the tiniest darker feathered one. He stayed on the plant while the other ones swam around and stayed close to mom.
There are several osprey nests along the beach at Fort Desoto. Osprey were flying all around me. Adding sticks to the nest and eating breakfast. It looks like to me that the osprey in the last picture is wishing he had some tartar sauce.
This great egret was skipping the sushi and going for a little lizard tartare.
Several ruby throated hummingbirds were eating breakfast from an agave plant.
Noisy black hooded parakeets were screaming across the park.
The usual stuff at Fort Desoto Park in early May. Except the hummingbirds, those are a special thing to see only during migration.
One of my favorite things we did in Key West was going to the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. I’ve been to several butterfly gardens but this was the first time I had been in a butterfly house. Butterflies were everywhere and were landing on people. It was muggy inside so I’m glad we went early in the morning. I can’t imagine being there late in the hot afternoon. I’m not going to try to identify all of these but I do know the big brown one with green spots is an Atlas moth. The largest moth in the world was everyone’s favorite. There were several there and they were kind enough to be still while everyone was taking their pictures.
It’s that time of the year. The moorhen babies with the big feet show up everywhere. This family with two babies that were growing up fast where hanging around the edge of the lake with white ibis, ducks and swans.
Two baby ducks that were orphans were close by. They seemed to be doing okay without any parents.
Baby mallard ducks were trying to nap under the bush.
One swan Mom was raising her babies in one of the fenced off areas. That way they are protected from predators including hawks and other mean swans.
Little critters flying around the lake.
I stopped by Lake Morton in Lakeland on my way home from another park to see if there were any baby ducks or swans. A few of both were found. Not a big baby boom going on in early May but enough to keep the cuteness going.
Approaching Fort Jefferson.
“The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle” Our transportation from Key West to the Dry Tortugas. Just Brett, myself and a hundred and ninety something other shipmates.
“No phone, no lights no motor cars, Not a single luxury, Like Robinson Crusoe, As primitive as can be.” Actually, at the time we visited, 10 people were living on the island full time. Several park rangers and their families. They built this make shift house into the side of the fort. They have all the same things I have in my home. Civilization is only a 2 1/2 hour boat ride away that is made daily. It’s weird to think about staying out here. Would you get lonely? You would hope everyone gets along.
Typical “Dead wood on the beach scene”. Brett said the wood looked like a swan.
“In the tropic island nest.”
Critters on a log in the water.
Critters on the sand.
Beach flowers were everywhere.
Walking along the moat wall.
On the top of the fort.
The other side.
The view from the inside. The water was amazing.
Fort Jefferson is old. You can read about it here. It was great to walk around and pretend you are the only one there. On your own private island. After walking around looking for birds, having lunch on the boat and then swimming and watching the fish, we headed back to Key West. I’m glad our “Minnow” made it back okay. We had smooth waters both ways.
All “quotes” from Gilligan’s Island.
It all starts here. The great, snowy and cattle egrets start flirting. The male birds bring a stick to the female birds over and over again until the nest is built. Then you know the rest. It was a busy day in early April when I was at Gatorland in Orlando. There were already baby birds and lots of nests that had eggs on them. Still more babies to come based on the action going on that morning.
My first masked boobies. We were far away on a boat headed for the Dry Tortugas. They nest on this small sand bar out in the middle of nowhere. The sandbar is protected so we could not get to close. Lucky I had my 200mm lens with me and ready to shoot as we went by. These are extremely cropped.
Another first sighting was the sooty terns. These birds were flying in between a sandbar and the Dry Tortugas. Several flew close to the boat.
Not a first but still cool to see. Frigatebirds were circling overhead as we docked at the Tortugas. A juvenile on the left and a female on the right.
Then the entire family with dad on the left with the red chest flew by.
Thousands of birds were on one end of the island. That section was closed off since many of the birds were nesting.
Another first, a chuck-will’s-widow on the ground. I have to give credit to several other birders who had found him right before I walked up. They were looking for the Kentucky warbler and found him instead.
He was hiding under some bushes. I could just make out his face through the branches.
I did find the Kentucky warbler, another first for me. They told me to look for a bird that looks like a hooded warbler but doesn’t have as much black on the head.
Heading back onto the boat for lunch, the frigatebirds were still cruising close to the boat.
Several blue grosbeaks were flying around inside the fort but they were very skittish.
My 5th new bird of the day was the brown noddies. There were a lot of these flying in between the closed off end of the island and old pilings next to the fort. They are part of the tern family.
More noddies flying in.
A male frigatebird flies close by as the boat was leaving the island.
I’m going to bore you with my tons of vacation pictures. Brett and I recently spent a week in Key West. It was our first time on the island. We had a great time and I lugged my camera stuff everywhere. We took the all day boat trip out to the Dry Tortugas on the first day of our trip. It was a 2 and a half hour boat ride each way. The boat felt a little crowded with close to 200 people on it. Once we got to the island and everyone was spread out on that big island, it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves. Lots more pictures to come.
I went for a walk in early April near my house and these are the few things I could find to take pictures of.
I had heard that the barred owl couple had two babies that were doing well. I finally made it over to Lettuce Lake in late April. I was thinking it was going to be close to impossible to find them. I was hoping they were in the same area as last year. No sign of them there so I decided to walk around the park for a while. I then saw some men on a tiny dirt trail through the swamp and headed that way. People would say “Are you crazy, heading into the swamp towards some men?” but I recognized them and I knew they knew where the action was. We stood in silence for a while watching the mom feed the baby owl. They said they had not seen the other baby that morning. After a while, they left to go find another bird. For an hour, I stood behind a tree in the swamp watching. I could see people on the main trail going by through the trees. I kept looking around high up in the trees for the other baby. I was going to leave and heard a sound like a sneeze right over my head. That other baby bird had been right over my head the entire time. I’m surprised he didn’t poop on me. I finally headed home since I had sweated off my two coats of DEET. The above are a little fuzzy. They were very far away in the shade and these are extremely cropped.
A baby grackle getting his footing.
“Ha, Ha, I got weeds stuck on my beak.”
A kildeer couple at the back pond. This is the first time I’ve seen kildeer here.
Mossy turtle drying off.
Tons of bunnies along the running path.
The bell tower in the middle of an office park.
When I got closer to the bell tower, I realized there was an osprey nest on top of it.
Heading over the lake.
Must be looking for dinner.
I stopped by Carillon Park after work for a walk around the lakes (or just really big ponds). Tons of people jogging and dog walking. I don’t get out before dark much anymore after work so this was a treat to get out.