A great morning for beautiful birds

I headed down to Fort Desoto at the end of August not expecting much. As I headed out to the north beach I was greeted by a few spoonbills. I rarely see them here and in fact it was probably last fall when they were in the same spot. I wonder if these are the same ones that have stopped by for a rest.

I found a few red knots hanging out with one of the resident reddish egrets.

A red knot still in breeding feathers.

The best part of the morning was seeing an uncommon avocet. It wasn’t really a surprise though. I had heard 2 were here but wasn’t counting on actually finding it so it was a bonus to walk up on it. I didn’t see the other one although it may have been hiding in the sanctuary close by. There were 3 that hung out here last fall and I was able to catch those on 2 visits.

A young skimmer fluffing up his feathers.

A dunk and a catch.

Looking over through the sea oats over to Egmont Key in the distance. If you look close in the right hand side, you can see an osprey sitting on a branch on the beach.

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Fishing on the fishing pier

One of the fun things about walking around on the fishing pier besides fishing, is watching the birds steal the bait fish. The snowy egrets get in squabbles over the tiny fish.

All lined up, waiting for someone to pull up a bait net full of fish.

This great blue heron had already eaten and was wiping his beak on the light.

Cruising by with the big boats in the background.

The guy who owned this rolling bucket was not paying attention. He had some fish already in there but left it open and walked farther down the pier to pull up another net full of bait fish. The snowy egrets and great egrets were having a feast until he came back.

 

That small orange dot in the sky

I don’t get out for sunrise very often. During the week I’m busy with work and on the weekends I’m either heading out to a park to walk to look for birds or sleeping in. In early September I was up on a Saturday with no plans (and sunrise isn’t that early this time of year) so I packed up and headed to Safety Harbor.

You could barely see the sliver of moon high up in the sky. The line between the water and land was turning bright orange.

People were starting to show up to the fishing pier and boats were heading out.

It was such a nice morning out. Birds were cruising back and forth across the pier.

Here it comes! A small orange dot off in the distance. I walked around the park for a while and will post those pictures later.

SkyWatch Friday

Things in the backyard

I was out in the backyard in early September and noticed this mallard trying to eat something that was bobbing in the water. I ran and got my camera and headed down to the dock and realized it was a mango. He was chowing down on it.

After 17 years in our house, we finally had a dragonfly come in. He was flying around for a while. We opened the doors and was waving around a broom and mop and was finally able to shoo him out into the screened in porch. I then opened the porch door and eventually he flew out but not before I was able to get this close up of him. He had a beautiful green color on his head.

Later in the week it was raining. We had a wet green heron hanging out on our dock in the rain and the mallards have been visiting for a while.

Squirrels like to hang out on the top of our down spout when it’s raining to stay dry. I took this through the sliding door and the screen.

We’ve been getting regular visits from 2 female mallards lately. They scrounge around under the bird feeder for fallen seed. One morning I looked out the window and realized they had brought friends. We also get ibis on a regular basis.

Looking out the side window from my desk, I see a dove sitting on the fence. Later a little blue heron was on our neighbor’s shed.

Taken through the window, this lizard had the cutest toes.

Sunset from the backyard.

My Corner of the World 

Tales from the Crypt?

I had heard about a cool old Italian cemetary (L’Unione Italiana Cemetary) in Tampa that I had to go check out. I’m half Italian (although I knew none of my relatives would be buried here). I’m one of those weird people who likes to walk around old cemetaries and check out the dates. And, think about who were those people were so long ago. I headed out early in the morning in early September before it got too hot. The first thing I noticed about this cemetary was all of the beautiful crypts. Most of them were not that old, from the 30’s to the 60’s.

I was able to find some information on the first crypt.  Gaetano Spicola was an Italian immigrant from Sicily, born in 1871, coming to American in his early teens. He worked his way down to Tampa and eventually opened the Ybor City Bottling Works. He later opened a hardware store with his son that was open for 66 years. He had a very colorful life that can be read about here.

It was a very crowded cemetary with lots of big ornate headstones. The interesting thing about this cemetary was so many of the headstones had pictures of the people on them. Almost like they were watching you. It almost made the cemetary come to life.

There were several with tall statues over them.

This was the entrance to the oldest part of the cemetary.

Many of the graves were from the early 1900’s to the late 20’s. I noticed that there were a lot of them with tiles on the headstone and many had the tile wreaths on them.

It was a very interesting part of Tampa history. Next door was the older Centro Espanol Cemetary and of course I walked through there as well. More on that later.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Seeing spots

Back in late August I headed to a park nearby to see if there were any baby deer. I hadn’t been in a while but had heard there were a few there including twins. It’s theraputic to walk around in the quiet woods after a stressful day but seeing baby deer is an added bonus. I found this family right along the parking lot and leaned on my car for a while watching them eat dinner. The baby would briefly nurse and Mom would just keep eating.

I’m not sure what Mom was doing here. After looking it up, the Mom keeps the baby’s bottom clean to help them poop and to keep the scent off the baby. They say you can tell if a baby has been orphaned if it has a dirty bottom. Now that’s a mother’s love.

The adults started heading into the woods for the night and the baby was running to catch up. I did finally find the twins but more on those later.

More summer skies from the yard

The skies from my front and back yard in late summer are insane. Some nights right when the sun hits after the rain has moved out, it looks like the sky is on fire. These were all taken in late August and early September.

The above was snapped with my phone through the glass door and the screened porch. The smaller ones before this were too close to be outside. The next day I found out it hit my neighbor’s house. It fried his fuse box and burned one side of his house. It took several days for an electrician to come out and fix everything so you really don’t know when it’s going to hit.

Lightning on the side of the house (I was standing in the garage). It’s weird the way the 2nd one was brighter in the middle.

Most nights if the sun peaks out in the backyard after a storm, I get this in the front yard.

SkyWatch Friday

A hot morning in August

A quiet (swampy) place to reflect. Just ignore the Beware of Alligators sign on the right.

This one was watching me as he cruised in front of the dock.

I found a few wood ducks in front of the dock at Chesnut Park.

Young cardinals were all over the park. They were all pretty scruffy looking, not having gotten their adults feathers in all the way yet.

A limpkin trying to hide behind some weeks.

The little chickadees were so cute. There were a lot of them here in early August. I saw my first one here at this park more than 10 years ago and then didn’t see any for a long time. Now I’ve seen a few around on most of my visits in the past few years.

After leaving Chesnut Park and heading home, I stopped at a small park nearby on the bay to see if anything was around the fishing pier. I had fun watching this dog romp around in the low tide. He stuck his tongue in the water for a drink but he did not like that salty water.

The one that got away. After taking a bunch of pictures of the dog in the water, I look up and see the back of an eagle heading the other way. I’ll have to keep an eye out here during the winter to see if there’s a nest nearby.

My Corner of the World

A peek at a new park.

I found a park on the other side of Tampa that I had never been before. Veterans Memorial Park is on the other side of downtown Tampa from me and I had read about it on a walking club site. There are several other parks in the area called Veterans Memorial Park but this one is different. It recognizes all the wars starting with the Spanish War. There are many monuments and there’s a museum although it was closed when I was there in late August.

I think one of my favorite monuments is the World War 1 statue.

Big army tanks are always cool to see up close.

Many of the displays honor Hillsborough county residents.

It was a quiet morning with not many people here. I felt like I almost had the place to myself. I walked around under the trees for a while and took a ton of pictures. More to come on those.

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Summer clucking

In early August I headed over to Ybor City early one morning to see if there were any summer baby chicks running around. I found two hens each with two babies. It’s weird to think there are wild chickens running around near downtown Tampa but I think they have been a long time. They say that the chickens have been here over 100 years, since the first Ybor city residents were living here before downtown really existed and there were small farms in the area.

They were so cute to watch. The chicks were curious but did not stray to far from Mom.