Purple birds

I was was walking around the Dunedin marina early one morning in late April when I noticed there were purple martins coming out of the bird house. I’ve seen many of these condo bird houses but this is the first time I’ve seen purple martins in them. I only had my phone with me so I snapped the above. My camera was in the car so I headed back and drove around to the area they were at.

I had seen them briefly before but this was the first time I was able to get a good look at them. They are beautiful! Of course the male is all shiny and purple (they look blue to me) in the sun. There were several flying around the house.

The above is either a female or an immature male. They might have already nested and this is an offspring.

I think this is a juvenile house sparrow, hanging out underneath the bird house.

An anhinga was catching fish close by in the marina.

The view in front of the bird house. The blue building is the Dunedin Sailing Center.

SkyWatch Friday

Last spring trip to Circle B Bar Reserve

A few things blooming on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve at the end of March.

Looking across the pond, I took this straight into the sun.

The painted buntings were still there and I was able to catch two males sitting near each other. After feeding they both flew across the canal.

A crow showing me his nesting material before taking off.

A few fly bys. A cattle egret up in the sky and a great blue heron cruising low over two alligators.

It doesn’t get much better than this. A cool sunny morning on the trails.

I could see an eagle high up in the cypress tree across the pond.

Farther down the trail I saw two eagles chasing each other.

They both landed high up in the trees and sat together for a while, often yelling. Mating season was over so I’m not sure what they were doing. Maybe a late nest? Maybe they were making plans to meet up this fall? Or they were talking about how great their new kids were?

I’m thinking this will be my last trip here until late Fall. It’s a long drive to Lakeland and it’s too hot to be out on the trails in the middle of summer. I’ll be sticking close to home and the coast to catch a little breeze (although probably a hot one).

My Corner of the World

An eagle family update

In the middle of March my neighborhood eagle babies were as big as their parents. They were hopping around and moving around the tower near the nest.

One of the parents flew in with a squirrel and both babies attacked the parent. I’m sure both were hungry that morning. The older one usually gets to eat first.

The parent dropped of the meal and left. At this point they were bringing back several snacks each morning. These babies were eating a lot.

The younger one just sits there and watches his big sibling eat first. If there’s any left he’ll get the rest or wait for a parent to bring in more food.

A few days later it was dark and cloudy with a storm moving in so I stopped for a quick visit and caught one of the babies eating while the other was sitting high up in the tower. If the nest was in a tree this would be called branching, where they start hopping around from branch to branch but in this cause they are working their way up the tower.

Another week later and the oldest was still eating first. He eventually stopped and let the younger one eat but not without a “I can already fly” attitude.

A few minutes later a parent flew in with a small fish (in his left talon).

He dropped off the fish and took off again.

After a full meal everything was quiet for a while.

Inspire Me Monday

A different type of Easter eggs.

Since we moved into our home in late September, I’ve always seen Carolina wrens in the backyard. Some days there are two but always at least one looking around for food. They sit on the bird feeder or the plants and sing for a while.

One morning I was home in early April and saw one bringing nesting stuff to the hanging plant in front of the window.

All day I watched as both wrens brought stuff into the plant. They were building a nest in there. I would see one stay inside the plant and dig around.

Pausing before heading into the plant, or was he posing for me?

The only shot I could get of both bringing in sticks at the same time.

Sitting on the edge at the end of the day. I didn’t see them again for a few days and thought maybe they abandoned it. I’ve heard they will build several before nesting.  All of the above were taken through the window.

One morning I went outside to water the plants and saw her sitting inside. I was assuming she was sitting on eggs. Very exciting.

Occasionally I would see the male stop by.

One morning she left the nest for a few minutes and I peeked in and saw 5 tiny eggs. More to come on this story.

Largo Nature Preserve in early April

It’s always fun to see baby mallards (although with that yellow beak on the Mom, these may be mottled ducks). There were two families at Largo Nature Preserve in early April. One was feeding in the water and the other was walking around on the walking path. They eventually made it down to the water.

The two northern shovelers were still there. They are probably up north for the summer by now.

Looking up in the utility tower I saw a young eagle. I often see adult eagles sitting here but today it was a younger one. Maybe 4 years old? They don’t get a full white head until their 5th year. This one still had a little brown on his. Maybe he was born in the area.

While watching the eagle, a Canadian goose flies by. They hang out on the golf course along the park so it’s not a surprise.

Across the canal a cattle egret had a dragonfly in his beak.

Brown thrashers are common here. This one was singing away.

Night herons can usually be found napping along the boardwalk.

A monk parakeet coming down to the ground to get a snack.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Flirting in the pine tree

Black hooded parakeets (or Nanday parakeets) are pretty common in the area. You can hear them screaming from far away. Almost every time I was at the eagle’s nest in my neighborhood a few would stop by. One morning several landed in the tree I was standing under.

One morning a pair of them landed really close to the kestral (on the right). The kestral took off.

In early April there was a flock that stopped on the utility wire right above me. Some of them flew into the pine tree nearby.

I walked over to the pine tree and saw that they were feeding. It looked like some were eating the pine cones.

Then I noticed two of them started to flirt. They were preening each other and then started mating.

When they were done they flew back over to the wire. Eventually the entire flock took off.

My Corner of the World

Possum Branch Preserve

Since Possum Branch Preserve is close to my house now I’ve been stopping by there for a quick walk pretty regularly before it gets to hot. Most of the time I only see the usual birds and the red winged blackbirds are the most common. Above is a female.

There was an American bittern that spent the winter here. Most of the time he was hidden in the reeds but I managed to catch him coming out to feed one morning.

There was a blue winged teal here for a short time.

Little blue herons are everywhere but I thought he looked pretty against the green.

A sora rail also spent the winter here but I only caught hime once. He also hides in the reeds most of the time and blends in well.

I saw this big guy napping from across the pond.

By the time I got around to the other side he had turned around. These are super cropped up.

This one is also cropped up. This guy was a little smaller.

Getting some air

Early March at the neighborhood eagle’s nest. One morning I got there and heard one of the parents screaming from a tree nearby. She left right after I snapped this and showed up at the nest later with a snack.

These were all in the first week of March. The oldest baby got to eat first and then the younger one got what was left. Most days several snacks were brought to the nest. One morning I was there for an hour and they brought in 2 fish and a squirrel.

After the eldest finished eating he was showing off his flight skills.  He was getting pretty high up but his landing was always wobbly.

One of the parents flew off. Probably the Mom who had been there all night.

A week later I stopped by on a cloudy day. Rain was coming in but I wanted to see them before the storm hit.  One of the babies was really enjoying his meal. It looked furry so I’m thinking a squirrel. Most of the earlier meals looked like fish.

A few days later and they were really getting some air. At this point both parents would be missing most of the morning. Only to stop by to drop off food for the babies.

 

Waiting for eagles to wake up.

I spent many mornings standing under a bottle brush tree along a fence waiting for the eagles in my neighborhood to wake up. I would go for a long walk and then ride my bike over to the nest with my camera and wait for the parents to bring in food. I saw a lot of other birds there as well. A kestral was there on the wires every time I came to take pictures. In the beginning he was very skittish and would fly away when I walked up but after a month he started getting a little closer. One morning I caught him eating a cricket.

A phoebe hung out in the reeds along the utility area beyond the fence. He was there most of February and March.

One morning a hawk landed in a tree nearby. I thought he was going to catch something when he flew to the ground but he took off empty handed.

The moon was still up early one morning.

Early in April on a cloudy morning there were two swallow tail kites that flew far up overhead.

One morning a turkey cruised by.

The usual annoying birds were always there, mockinbirds and blue jays.

A mallard flew by.

I was out there right before sundown one day and got to watch the beautiful sunset. That’s a bat box on the stick. Sometimes I could hear them sqweaking in there.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Back out in the wild

I headed back over to the Manatee Viewing Center at the electric plant when my sister was visiting in February. We got there right when it opened on a weekday and it was already crowded. Everyone was here to see the hundreds of manatees floating near the dock. I first noticed a girl out there floating with them. She worked with an enviremental agency and was counting the manatees and making notes of each one’s distinct markings. There was also one on the dock counting. Can you imagine floating around with all of those manatees? It seems like a dream job.

Standing on the dock looking down, you could see lots of them floating close together. I took this one with my phone.

It was hard to single them out and get close up shots.

When we first got there we had heard there was going to be a manatee released back into the wild. We got a good spot on the dock railing and I was able to get pictures of them bringing it down to the water.

They carried that heavy manatee down to the water and carefully placed the tarp in the water and the manatee swam away. Everyone cheered as he swam out of the blue tarp. The thing I find interesting is that it was all women who carried that manatee that could have weighed from 1500 to 3000 lbs. Many of them were volunteers.

The manatee had been rehabilitated at Zoo Tampa, probably stranded from cold stun or starving (which many of them have been lately due to changes in grass beds).The zoo has a manatee hospital on site and you can see some of the resident ones there.

A few of the birds cruising by as we were waiting for the manatee release. A bald eagle was flying over by the electric plant and a tricolored heron flew right by the dock.

One of the cute statues at the viewing center.

My Corner of the World