Tiny critters at the botanical gardens.

The big huge milkweed plant at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo was covered in these icky bugs. I didn’t see any caterpillars in early October on the plant which is usually filled with them. I know it’s late for caterpillars but there are usually still a few. It’s warm through December here. I hope they don’t kill the plant.

A few other small critters creeping around the gardens.

There were still lots of swallowtails flying around.

The young wood ducks were starting to get their colors in including that young male hiding behind the big leaf.

My Corner of the World

Little birds on the beach

The skimmers lined up along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.

Out on Outback Key spit, I could see tons of shorebirds from the beach.

So many shorebirds, so little time. The spit was full of different shorebirds but nothing new on this trip. The tide was high in mid-October early in the morning so I was wading knee deep to get out to the area where the shorebirds were. It was a slow walk just making sure I didn’t sink and go under. Everything was packed in my backpack but you just never know.

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Meet Morton

Since mid-October there’s been a wild turkey hanging out at Lake Morton near downtown Lakeland. At least everyone thinks she’s wild. There’s a few parks and preserves close by so she could have wandered far off her path and ended up here. The neighborhood did a naming poll and the name Morton stuck. She seemed pretty domesticated to me. I found her as I was walking around the lake and she came pretty close to me. People have probably been feeding her. All of the turkeys I’ve seen out in the woods are very skittish and run away pretty quickly. She better be hiding this week.

She was strutting around like she owned the lake. There are brick retaining walls in a few places around the lake and the white pelicans along with the ducks like to nap there. She walked up to the pelicans which are much bigger than her and chased them off the wall.

She then strutted over to another wall and chased the ducks away. The pelicans had moved on and were climbing up onto another wall and she went over and chased them again. She was causing a lot of chaos this morning. It will be interesting to see how long she’s there.

Baby bluebirds

I was lucky to catch these two juvenile bluebirds hanging around the playground area at Chesnut Park in early September. I know they nest there every year but I never see bluebirds at this park. They were flying around from the tree to the ground. They’re really pretty with those bright blue feathers.

Chickadees are usual birds at this park. Yellow throated warblers are as well during migration season but the pine warbler on the bottom is a little more rare to see.

After a quiet morning at Chesnut Park I stopped by Philippe Park on the way home. The park was busy with dog walkers and joggers and lots of families hanging out but I found a quiet spot along the water and hung out for a while.

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Usual things at Fort Desoto

Lots of little birds on Outback Key at Fort Desoto. After a morning of looking through all of these little birds for anything unusual with no luck, I headed over the fishing pier to see what was going on there.

My friend TOTO was hanging out near the fishing pier (he is tagged with a band that has TOTO on it). He’s been around for years.

A snowy plover was skipping around in low tide.

Sushi for breakfast.

Pelicans were also diving for their sushi breakfast.

“Whatta you want lady?”

I think that’s a piece of apple in this crow’s beak. At least it’s not a chip.

What is he doing up here? I have never seen a reddish egret hanging around the fishing pier. They are usually feeding along the shoreline.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

 

A rare bird for Tampa bay

I took a gazillion pictures of these rare birds. This wasn’t the first time Avocets had been seen at Fort Desoto. Nor was it the first time for me to see this bird. But they are rare to see in the Tampa Bay area and usually don’t stick around long. My first sighting was on a small beach in north Tampa bay and there was only one.  Usually when someone posts a sighting in the area, they are gone hours later. These 3 had been around for a few days and I did not think I’d find them at the big park. As soon as I walked out on the beach I saw them so I was pretty excited. They were out on a sand spit and were far away but posed for a while. They looks so classy, almost like ballerina birds.

People were started to head out on the beach and someone came close by and spooked them. They flew right by me.

Later I saw them snoozing farther out.

While I was in Salt Lake City 2 years ago, I saw hundreds of them out in the middle of Salt Lake but I’m not counting this sighting since they were so far away. They are fairly common out there.

Wide open space at Myakka State Park

One of the few animals I saw at Myakka River State Park was a deer near the big lake. She was alone and hiding in the shadow.

Closer to the water I could see some black bellied whistling ducks and black necked stilts.

A crow guarding the parking lot.

Myakka Park, just south of Sarasota, is known for having huge gators. And a lot of them although not as many as the Everglades. Timing is everything to see the big ones. They usually come out to sun themselves late in the afternoon. If it’s really hot, they’ll stay in the water most of the day. I was there early in the morning and only saw a few small ones. There is an area in the park that is off limits that has 100’s of them. The “Deep hole” is a 4 mile round trip hike out to where they are hidden but you have to have a permit to hike out there. The rangers give out 30 permits a day and I heard they are all snatched up in the first hour. I keep saying I want to get down there in the winter and hike out the hole but keep putting it off. I think this winter might be the time.

The sun was just coming up over the trees when I headed out on one trail.

This is a huge park with a lot of wide open spaces. I was out on a rare Monday off so there was hardly anyone there.

A pano with my phone of a dried up lake.

SkyWatch Friday

All alone on the beach

Lots of weird things on the beach at low tide at Fort Desoto. The first three look like brains to me but they call it sea pork. Maybe some time of coral.  The bottom one is a moon jellyfish. There’s been some articles in the news about how the beaches in the area are full of them. Thinking one of the last big storms blew them close to the area.

It was very quiet in late September. Hardly anyone on the beach. I walked out to the end of Outback Key and had the place all to myself.

This guy was feeding in a recent rain puddle near the parking lot. I can’t ever pass up taking shots of a spoonbill.

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Little birds on the beach

A perfect morning out at Fort Desoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing an oystercatcher. This one with the red band is a regular at the park. Someone out on the sandbar walked by and he came flying right by me.

A sandwich tern making a landing.

A  tiny snowy plover on the exposed sand.

Piping plovers have orange legs.

A great egret cruising by.

A young red knot.

Lots of different shorebirds at Fort Desoto in early October.

A quiet slow morning in September

Back in mid-September when things were quiet at Fort Desoto, I stopped by the pier to see if there were any dolphins swimming around. There wasn’t any dolphins this morning but the pelicans were diving for fish and the gulls were driving them crazy trying to steal a fish from them.

Harry, the usual great blue heron/great egret hybrid, was hanging out on the roof on the pier panting in the heat.

Not many ships passing by this morning.

My Corner of the World