All of the critters were feasting.

The usual things to see at Possum Branch Preserve.

Alligators are also usual things there. That alligator in the first one thinks that grass is hiding him. That alligator coming up behind him knew he was there.

There were no spring migrating birds feeding in the mulberry tree but the woodpecker was getting his fill.

This female red winged blackbird had 2 snacks, a caterpillar and a dragonfly.

Another usual suspect here is a brown thrasher.

Not a usual suspect in the mulberry trees right before I left.  A small flock of cedar waxwings landed on the back side of the tree. I’ve seen them here once before several years ago. It was hard to get shots of them on the back side of the tree that backs up to the pond full of gators. Standing under the tree I could see several at the top with their faces covered in berry juice. They are such an elegant bird, always so clean. I felt like I should have offered them a napkin but I left them to their mulberry buffet.

My Corner of the World

At the beach

No, I did not take these this weekend. We avoid the beaches on holidays. We are fortunate enough to live here and can go to the beach any time so we don’t go during the busiest times. This was a beautiful Saturday morning in early May.

The wind was blasting and you could see all of the kiteboarders bobbing up and down across the water near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The usual birds near the fishing pier included a ruddy turnstone taking a break, a gull who was cruising the wind and a black bellied plover.

One last look for migrating birds at the ranger’s house came up empty. Only a young great blue heron and a white ibis in the fountain.

This osprey had built a nest right on the trail and was giving me the stink eye when I passed by. Luckily there isn’t much traffic on this trail when the heat sets in.

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Everyone was eating this morning

A chickadee hanging on the moss. He was picking the bugs off the moss.

I found these two woodpeckers that were eating peanuts from the ground at the bottom of a cypress tree near the main trail at Chesnut Park. I don’t know if someone left them there for the birds or if the woodpeckers stashed them there before. They both kept coming down, grabbing a peanut and then going up the tree and eating it. They did this several times.

Heading home, I was driving down the road in the right lane when this swallow tail kite cruised really low right in front of me. I turned into a neighborhood and pulled over and got out as the kite was cruising around. He was circling low all over the neighborhood and then took a dive behind some trees.

When he was visible again he had a lizard in his talons. At this point he started heading out of the neighborhood and across the busy road. It was fun seeing him cruising so low.

Fun things at Lake Mirror

Color at Hollis Garden in Lakeland in early May.

I thought these lily pad were cool holding the water in their leaves. Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland was full of them.

There’s a reason they are called “common” moorhens. They are everywhere and they have tons of babies starting in the spring.

I noticed this baby grackle screaming at his Mom for food. He was hopping around behind Mom but I think she was trying to get him to feed himself. He was old enough to be able to do that.

Across Lake Morton a new building was going up. The flags would have looked very magestic if they weren’t so worn out.

I don’t alway stop at Lake Mirror after a walk at Circle B Bar Reserve but this morning in early May I only did a short walk at Circle B and then went over to Lake Mirror. I was in the mood for some spring flowers that were in bloom at Hollis Gardens which sits right on the lake.

SkyWatch Friday

Yard birds in May

Doves sleeping on our fence. Taken through the kitchen window.

This night heron was hanging out on our dock, staying busy preening.

An ibis flew in and landed on the same dock.

The night heron was not happy with the ibis near his spot and chased him off. I just happened to be walking out of the side of the house to sneak around to the back to take pictures of the heron when I caught the ibis landing.

A few minutes later the night heron flew down to the water. It was an extreme low tide and you could see some of the rocks exposed. He was looking for tiny crabs on the rocks.

A mockingbird was eating something off my neighbor’s bottle brush tree.

A red bellied woodpecker in the tree.

Not an exciting bird but the house sparrows nest nearby and I always get a lot of them at my feeder so I consider them “my” birds. They are not skittish at all.

I was hosing down the front porch early one Sunday morning when I looked down the driveway and saw a duck couple drinking the runoff water. I know they want a handout but we don’t feed the ducks here. On one side it would be fun if they nested in our bushes but on the other side, our driveway would be covered in piles of duck poop.

My Corner of the World

A late afternoon walk

At the end of April I went out late in the day instead of the morning. I had something I had to do in the morning but I didn’t want to miss a walk outside. I headed to Largo Nature Preserve not expecting much since it was hot. I caught the screech owl peeking out of her hole. I knew this was the tree that had a nest but hadn’t seen anything until now. I didn’t know at this point if there were babies. I waited a while but she just sat there staring off so I kept on going.

I did a quick walk along the boardwalk before heading out. It was interesting to see the spotted sandpiper on the boardwalk rail. Those guys are usually skittish and only here in the winter. Lots of dragonflies around and I saw a moorhen sitting on a nest.

A quick stop at Possum Branch on the way home. I had the entire preserve to myself.

Green herons were everywhere.

A black and yellow flash went by me and when it landed on a branch I realized it was a bobolink. It was with another male and a female that landed farther down the canal. They stopped for a few seconds before taking off again. It was the only bobolink I saw this season.

Little critters in the weeds.

The trails around the ponds were covered in this mimosa ground cover. The purple flowers were covered in moths and bees. You could see the tiny path where people had been walking on it. Quickly they will die off and the trail will get mowed again but the blanket of purple was really pretty this afternoon.

These yellow and white flowers are weeds and they were also everywhere.

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Another morning at Fort Desoto

I think I found some spring migrating birds. But only two. A red eyed vireo and a rose breasted grosbeak were the only birds in late April at Fort Desoto Park.

After walking the trails, I headed to the beach. The royal tern was doing a big stretch.

I caught these two willets fighting over the best spot.

Other usual birds on the beach include a ruddy turnstone and a piping plover.

I could see two big osprey babies on the nesting platform in the parking lot. The babies have white spots on their brown feathers when they are young.

A few of the boats from the fishing pier.

SkyWatch Friday

 

Black swan families

Yes, the above pictures look like similar pictures but there were two different black swan families at Lake Morton in late April.  Both had triplets.  One of the families had darker babies and the other family’s babies still had lighter gray heads. They were all floating around the same area near the swan pens.

Both families started to float closer together near the vegetation and a scuttle started. The parents were not happy being so close together. The darker baby family chased the lighter gray family back over to their side of the pond. I tried to get all of the action but they were to close to fit them all in and it happened so fast.

The lighter gray babies hurried over to their side and then relaxed and started to preen and take baths.

This baby looked so elegant as she started to preen and fluff her feathers.

The darker gray baby family headed out across the pond. It was fun to sit back on the grass and watch all of the swans going about their day. I’m sure it’s a tough job raising kids on this lake much less three at a time.

My Corner of the World

Spring migration was a bust

McGough Park in Largo is another spring migration hot spot so I stopped there in late April but all I got was turtles. After walking around for an hour and seeing very few birds I left and headed to Largo Nature Preserve.

Not many migrating birds here either but lots of other stuff. I thought the bottom shot was just a weird looking butterfly but then realized it was two butterflies. Not sure if they were mating or feeding on something but they stayed there for a while.

I caught this osprey cruising by me with a really big stick heading to a nest. What is that saying? “Speak softely and carry a big stick”. This is more like “Fly high and carry a big stick”.

A tricolored heron creeping around in the muck.

A big family and almost grown babies in the bottom shot.

This was the first time I’ve seen black bellied whistiling ducks here, much less any where in Pinellas county so I was surprised. They were on the golf course across the canal.

This lone spoonbill was busy feeding and wandering around looking for the best spot.

As I was walking the path something blue whizzed by. Wait, what was that? Finally, a migrating bird. It was a blue grosbeak and when I cropped this shot up I realized there was an immature orchard oriole with him (the yellow one on the right). The oriole took off and I wasn’t able to find him again.

The blue grosbeak had a lady friend with him (the brown one on the top) and they stayed in the area for a few minutes before taking off across the park.

This guy sleeps under the boardwalk. I took this with my phone but I was on the boardwalk at the time.

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