Back at the nursery

I stopped in again at the wood stork rookery in north Tampa in mid-May. The small island in the middle of a medium pond was still packed with birds nesting. Wood storks were busy flying in back to the nest.

Most of the babies were almost grown at this point. They have pretty faint yellow and pink beaks when they are young.

Many of them were practicing their wing flapping. Getting ready for that first flight.

“Whadda you want?”

I saw a lady get out of her car near the end of the pond and I thought maybe she was taking pictures from farther away but then I realized she had dumped bread on the bank to feed the birds. She dumped and drove off. I would loved to have been able to tell her that old bread is bad for the birds. They should be eating bugs and fish. By the time I walked over to the area the bread had been snatched up by the wood storks.

A field of sunflowers

It all starts here. Not quite yet blooming at Sweetfield Farms.

It’s somehow theraputic to walk around a sunflower field. They were in full bloom in mid-May. Most were blooming way over my head.

It was a perfect sunny day to take pictures of the yellow flowers (even though ti was a little warm)

Every one looks just a little different. Many had bees on them.

Someone had made a face out of this older flower. You could see the sunflowers seeds underneath. In the past you would just buy the flowers already picked at the barn on the way out but this time you could pick your own. They give you clippers and let you walk around and pick out the ones you want. One thing they said was to cut the flatter faces if possible. Those were fresher since the seeds hadn’t started to grow. As the flower gets older the seeds grow and the face bowls out. By the time it bowls out the yellow petals will fall off soon. Another thing is that they are heavy. I cut 5 big ones and was trying to carry by camera stuff and the zinnias I had cut before this. It was a long trip back to the car. This is where having Brett with me would have come in handy (although then I would have spent a small fortune). He was busy playing golf so I was on my own.

My stash when I got home.

I guess my love of sunflowers started early. We grew them in our backyard when I was growing up. They were always much smaller than the ones on the farm. This was me in the early 70’s.

SkyWatch Friday

In the backyard

I didn’t plant these sunflowers on purpose. I didn’t think we had the right kind of soil since our dirt is so sandy. Of all of the years with a bird feeder, this is the first time I had a rogue sunflower seed take root. The double one came up first but wasn’t very big. The bigger one came up right next to our petunia pot a few days later. I think an animal, maybe a squirrel, ate it after a few days. It was all torn up on the ground near the feeder.

A macro fly on the leaf.

Taking some shots around the backyard with my macro lens.

I had to get even more shots of my hibiscus plant.

One night I went out to move the garbage can to the street and saw this black racer cutting across my driveway. I was glad I had my phone in my pocket so I could quickly snap this.

We’ve had a lot of duck families cruising past our dock. This was one of the first in early May.

My Corner of the World

Fun on a farm

I love going to see the sunflowers at Sweetfield Farms in the spring. Not just because there are fields of flowers but there’s also farm animals. They had baby goats when I visited in mid-May. They were so cute They would come right up to the fence and you could feed them hay. The kids were going crazy over them.

It’s always fun seeing the male turkey showing off when the female walked by.

And you know I love chickens.

They also have vegatables that you could pick. I think the zucchini blooms those yellow flowers.

A grasshopper on a leaf. I’m sure it’s not a good thing to have a grasshopper on your farm. Assuming a lot of them would eat through your plants.

I found a bluebird near the edge of the farm.

So many sunflowers. These were some of the smaller ones. More to come on those.

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What’s for breakfast?

This was probably one of the most well known holes back in early April. Word got out  pretty quickly about a pair of flickers nesting in a park in Largo. Such a tiny hole to have so many people staring at it. I got there early on a Saturday morning and there were already 10 photographers there. We all quietly stood there for about 30 minutes before one of the parents flew in.

She crept up slowly to the hole.

Out popped one of the babies and she fed it. At this point the babies were already looking like grown flickers. But, they were still acting like babies.

Only slightly zooming in, the nest was very visable.

Mom took off after feeding the first one. Then it was time to sit and wait another 30 minutes. Eventually she came back and two more popped out. There were 3 in all but I could never get a shot of all 3 out at the same time.

After waiting a while it was time for me to leave. Not before this little one popped out looking for Mom. He must have still been hungry. This was my first time seeing a flicker nest. I don’t see them that often in the area so it was fun watching them being fed.

A trip to Chinsegut.

The bluebirds must nest here at Chinsegut Wildlife Park since there were some very young ones here the morning I visited in mid-May. The 2nd one looks like a juvenile. There were several behind the ranger’s office so I’m thinking next year I need to go earlier and keep an eye out.

It must have also been chickadee day because there were tons of them along the trail. I counted 10 at one point. Not a wide variety of birds here but there were a lot of the few species that were.

This red headed woodpecker couple were following each other around. I think that top one has a snack so maybe the other one was just trying to get the snack. Or, maybe they were still flirting and would be starting a nest soon.

Butterflies were everywhere along the trail. They loved the thistle.

 

The weeds were getting high as the heat was setting in.

I love the trees here but if you walk on the lesser traveled trails, you might get a face full of spider web.

I checked out the other backroom before leaving (they have two unisex ones). This one had an eagle and a great blue heron painted on the wall.

I think this may be my new favortie park. It’s quiet and hardly anyone there early on a Saturday morning. It’s about an hour north from my house but a lot of the parks I visit are at least 45 minutes to an hour so it’s not a bad ride (and I don’t have to get on crazy I4). The park is relatively small (compared to Circle B Bar Reserve where you can walk for 6 or 7 miles) but I like the area. The original owners named it Chinsegut which is an Inuit word for “spirit of lost things”. I don’t think I’ll get too lost though since it’s easy to navigate and there are main roads around it if you walk too far.

SkyWatch Friday

All of the usual things

Right when I got to Largo Nature Preserve and was getting out of the car this swallow tail kite flew so close to me that I cut him off. He flew over some trees and I couldn’t find him again.

The usual birds were there. A cattle egret, limpkin and a night heron.

The usual Florida critters were also there.

I did a quick lap around the paved trail and saw this almost grown baby screech owl peaking out of the hole in the tree. I looked for a while for the parent in the area but couldn’t find one. Those tiny owls are good at hiding. I did not stick around to find out if the parent came in to feed the baby but I’m sure it did at some point.

A red bellied woodpecker was popping in and out of this hole but we were all interested in the flickers nesting in the tree next door. More on that to come.

My Corner of the World

Color explosion!

Since I missed the Sunflower festival at Sweetfield Farms last year, I had to go this year. In late May the zinnias at the farm were in full bloom. While the farm is mostly sunflowers (all boring yellow), I think my favorite part is the zinnia field. So many colors growing in one place. After taking tons of pictures, I went to the “You pick” booth and got some clippers. They were $1 per flower and I got as many as I could carry. One in each color.

The butterflies love the zinnias as well. My favorite part was all of the little flying critters that were landing on the flowers. I could have spent all day here but it was getting hot and I was getting hungry so it was time to pack up.

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The prettiest ducks in Florida

Wood ducks are common year round at the Florida Botanical Gardens. They nest here and if the timing is right you can see them swimming around with babies in the summer. I found 3 males and one female swimming around the main pond early in May. These guys are usually skittish so I stayed at the other end of the pond behind some trees and they just floated around, bathing and flapping. I wondered if there were other females already sitting on eggs somewhere.

At one point two of the males started arguing. Not sure what started it but one was chasing the other away but then they stopped and continued to float around together again.

Until next winter

High up in a tree, a young red shoulder hawk has the best view.

An osprey in a tree right over the trail was trying to eat his fish in peace but there was a steady stream of people walking by and he stopped to yell at each one.

Wood storks cruise by as I headed down the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early May.

A typical Florida shot of a great blue heron.

Herons were everywhere and constantly cruising by. The one in the second shot flew way to close. I almost cut him off.

Dragonflies were everywhere as it was getting warmer.

Another typical Florida shot.

This plant was growing all across the marsh. I think this is water hemlock.

Moss covered oak trees lead the way back to the car. This was my last trip to Circle B until the weather cools off. It’s way to hot to be out here without a breeze. Both of the main trails are closed for the summer due to the alligators nesting on the trails so I’ll wait until the fall when the winter birds start to arrive again.

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