The owls at Fort Desoto

Mom standing watch over her babies.

Meanwhile, the babies are acting cute with those curious eyes. Always looking around at the sounds and birds flying by.

Mom moved over to a tree nearby for a while.

Then back to the nest to sit for while before feeding the kids. You could see both sides of the nest since it sits between a trail through the woods and the beach. We were running back and forth trying to get the best shots while the sun was going in and out. I think this is when I got my poison ivy on my ankles. Not paying attention and running around in the small wooded area where the owls nest. One ankle was pretty bad and my foot was so swollen I couldn’t get a shoe on for almost two weeks. That’ll teach me. After 13 years of doing this I’ve been pretty lucky with not getting it before now. Of course now I’m checking everywhere I step or walk.

The baby should have been excited since he was about to be fed but instead he was yawning. Mom was digging around on the nest for something good she had hidden in there. More to come on what that was.

SkyWatch Friday

Bok Tower Gardens

Even though chipping sparrows are not rare, I don’t see them often.

I found a female ruby throated hummingbird feeding in the english garden at Bok Tower Gardens in late February. It almost looks like she was molting around her face.

I was standing on the path for a while under a pine tree waiting for the hummingbird to come back to the flowers and someone walked by and said “Look at the owl over your head”. I didn’t even notice him when I walked up earlier. I’m glad he didn’t poop on me!

Butterflies and flowers in the garden near the bell tower.

The door to the courtyard at the historic house on the grounds. The Pinewood Estate is closed for now but you can still walk around the grounds.

I found the Fairy Garden on this visit. I usually don’t venture into the children’s garden there but it was a quiet morning so I wandered in to see if there were any good birds back there. I loved the big oversize nest and the little houses made from nature. It’s so creative.

My Corner of the World

Color in the gardens

Lots of color in late February at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.

I love this plant with the bright pink stalks and the shiny green leaves. It looks like pink celery but the leaves are different so I’m not sure what it is. It might be swiss chard.

If there was ever an on line scratch and sniff invented, it would be for this. The smell of an orange blossom is the best smell ever. When you drive into the gardens you wind your way through a large orange grove before getting to the parking lot. In February you have to roll your windows down to take in the smell. There were also orange trees scattered around the park and I just stood there for a while taking it in.

The azaleas were in full bloom and the park had sections that were covered in the bushes. This was the perfect time to be outside in central Florida.

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Spring is here

Trying to get a shot of an inchworm hanging from a tree is like trying to bite an apple hanging from a tree with your hands tied behind your back (I remember doing this as a kid at Halloween parties).  The trees were full of these guys dangling and swaying back and forth in the wind. It’s not a sharp shot but you get the drift.

They were crawling around in the weeds as well. Every year in early March they take over a few of the parks here in the Tampa bay area. Harmless but annoying when they get in your hair.

The inchworms where hanging in the tree that is home to the owls at a local park. Dad was in his usual spot overlooking the big tree.

My first baby owl sighting of the year. He looks a little grumpy, like he just woke up. It was late in the day when I got to the park. The babies were just waking up from a nap and were ready for a snack.

Mom flew up to a branch over the nest.

The babies were watching Mom and one was climbing up the tree trying to get closer to her. Did I say “babies”? There were actually 3 and I eventually got pictures of all of them together but more on those later.

I was sitting at a traffic light on the way home and noticed an inchworm on the inside of my window. He had the nerve to poop on my window and leave a trail. When I got home I got him out and put in on a bush.

A chilly morning at Fort Desoto

“I caught one this big” said the osprey as he landed on his nest.

Actually, he was bringing in sticks to spruce up the nest.

It’s amazing what you see when you are standing around waiting for baby birds to wake up. This Prairie warbler flew right in front of me.

Turning around, the coast guard was sitting right off the beach.

I eventually got tired of waiting for the baby birds to wake up and headed over to North beach to see what was over there (I don’t have a lot of attention span and was also trying to get some exercise so I needed to keep walking). All of the usual birds were there.

On the fishing pier, Harry the hybrid (great blue heron x great egret) was having a scratch.

It was a beautiful morning in late February.

Not many people out early in the morning (just us photogs) and it was a little chilly.

SkyWatch Friday

Cuteness overload

A few days earlier I noticed two little squirrels hanging out of a hole in a tree near the owl’s nest. When I came back to check on the owls, I saw 4 squirrel babies hanging out of the nest. They were in a highly visible spot and everyone was going crazy over the cute babies hanging out of the tree.

Two of them kept slipping back into the hole. One of them climbed up to the top of the hole but then he quickly scrambled back down. Trying to be brave but realizing that it’s a big scary world out there.

Mom came in and brought some food. I couldn’t quite tell what he was eating.

He was so cute covering his mouth while he chewed. Probably didn’t want his siblings to try and steal it.

After Mom left, these two were busy preening each other.

The squirrels eventually went back into hiding, probably to nap so it was back to paying attention to the owls. Those baby squirrels had better hide from this guy who was only one tree over. He has babies to feed as well.

My Corner of the World

Chesnut Park on a Saturday morning

It was nice to see the deer close by in late February.

Taken with my phone, you can see them wandering around near the picnic area next to the lake.

Usual birds include a bluebird, swamp sparrow, carolina wren (singing his heart out) and a purple gallinule (showing off his big yellow feet).

Lots of color in February (which is really our fall). I’m not sure what the pink seed pods are but I’ve seen the squirrels eat them.

He was so close to the boardwalk that I had to take this with my phone to get him in.

I was leaving the park and saw some vultures fighting in the outfield of the ballfield (no one was playing). I parked and got out to see what they were fighting over. Whatever it was had been cleaned off.

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Winter visitors at Possum Branch Preserve

A few of the wintering ducks at Possum Branch Preserve, a lesser scaup and a horned grebe. They were both far out in the channel that runs along the preserve.

A moorhen posing on a tree branch in the pond. Seems a little dangerous standing up there with all of the hawks and eagles that could come by.

The robins were still hanging around in early February. They were picking off the few remaining mulberries left on the tree.

At least two sora rails were spending the winter in the pond.

This is the 2nd winter I’ve seen a Virginia rail here. He’s pretty skittish and rarely comes out from the reeds. After standing there for a while, he finally came out for a few minutes before running back into hiding. He’s much prettier than the sora rail.

Alone in the drizzle

The wind was blowing hard at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in late February.  I was the only one there on the fishing pier along with the pelicans.

The views from East beach.

Someone dropped their breakfast on the beach. It looks like a laughing gull. There are eagles that cruise this area and a nest on the other side of the park so it might be one of them.

A wall of rain was coming in off the gulf and it was already drizzling so after snapping this I headed home.

SkyWatch Friday

A brave Mom defending her babies.

It was drizzling on and off in early February when I first caught a glimpse of the baby great horned owls at Fort Desoto. The two babies huddled together and Mom stayed with them on the nest when I first got there.

After the rain stopped and the sun was trying to peak out, Mom flew over to a tree across the trail. Looks like she was trying to wake up and stretch.

The black hooded parakeets were flying by, being loud and annoying. The owl paid little attention to the parakeets buzzing around.

All of a sudden Mom sits up and looks at something close by the nest.

We all turned around to see what Mom was looking at. An eagle had quietly landed on a branch right near the nest. The eagle started screaming and Mom flew off the nest and chased the eagle away. It all happened so fast that I did not even got a shot of the confrontation.

After chasing the eagle off, Mom came back and landed on the nest. This time she stayed on the nest for a while. The baby popped his head up for a few seconds then went back to sleep. It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow up.

My Corner of the World