Ducks and humps

I was heading north to Tarpon Springs for a walk and decided to stop by the water reclamation facility to see if the winter ducks were here. There were a lot of ducks but not as many as in past years. The water pond is huge and they really need to be on the far right side to get any shots of them. They were almost in the middle of the pond the morning I stopped. They were mostly redheads and a few lesser scaup mixed in.

There were a few stragglers along the fence and I realized this was a greater scaup with that round bright green head and almost white sides. This was a first for me.

Not too far away were a few lesser scaup as well.

After shooting the ducks I was on my way to Craig Park for a walk around the bayou. Last year at this time I had seen two manatees in the small bayou and was hoping to see some again this year. After a few minutes I saw 2 snouts come up for air.

There were at least 10 manatees in the water. They didn’t come close to the sea wall since the water was low but you could see their backs coming up as they dove back down in the water. Here were 4 different backs. The top one had a lot of algae on it. The 2nd one had only a few barnacles on it. The 3rd one had some algae and a lot of boat scrapes. The last one had a clean back.

There was one with a lot of barnacles on his back but for some reason I only got a picture of his tail. I went back a few weeks later and they were still there. I guess the shallow water in the bayou stays fairly warm so they spend a good part of the coldest months here.

Walking the opposite way

My morning walk started out sunny in mid-December. I parked at the marina and walked in the opposite direction of my usual route. I followed the long sidewalk along the water that heads towards Clearwater.

I found another damaged stranded boat. A common sight since Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Eventually this will get hauled out of the water and probably scrapped.

Looking across the water to the left you can see the hotels on Clearwater Beach.

When I got back to the marina and headed for my car I was walking along the sea wall and spotted 2 manatees close by. I love seeing their big squishy snouts coming up for air. I wonder how old the one on the right is with all of those barnacles attached to his back. The barnacles are not parasites and don’t feed on the manatee. They just live on top and are hitching a ride. They can eventually fall off as well.

SkyWatch Friday

Inspire Me Monday

A warm morning out in December.

Folly Farms in Safety Harbor was all decorated for Christmas with lights everywhere. I was there early in the morning and many of the lights were still on. It was weird looking for birds and butterflies with a tshirt on and Christmas lights everywhere. The farm has a community garden and someone had sunflowers blooming in their square, in the middle of December! I could only find a few butterflies in the butterfly garden even though it was still blooming.

The only bird I found at the farm was a hermit thrush. I had not seen one since 2018 and I had just seen one in my backyard before finding this one at the farm. I had to wonder if it was the same one from my yard even though I was 15 minutes away.

I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier before heading home and found some black capped (or nanday) parakeets in the parking lot. They were eating seeds from the top of the trees. They blend in well in the trees and I might not have seen them if they hadn’t been screaming.

A manatee was close to the pier but the dolphins were pretty far out in the bay.

Watching the ibis feed off tiny crabs in the water.

Pelicans were cruising by the pier.

There were several osprey out diving for fish in the bay but only one came close enough to try and get shots. He swooped down and grabbed that fish so fast and then went the other way. I was hoping he would fly towards me. Oh well. I’ll try again.

Inspire Me Monday

 

The usual visitors in the backyard

More shots of the single young doe that’s been hanging around our yard for several weeks. She has lost her spots but still seems so tiny. Several times she takes a break under the big oak tree next door. I even caught her sleeping one afternoon. She usually lays there for about half an hour nibbling on the grass and then moves on.

All of the usual birds stopping by in early November.

This is the first time I’ve seen a bluebird at my feeder. They stop by the bird bath but I’ve never seen them on the feeder. They usually eat at my neighbor’s feeder. He uses mealworms.

Four of the seven turkey family walking across the golf course in the backyard (the other 3 were down in the bushes).

My neighbor’s muhly grass looks beautiful in early November. The native grass blooms pink in the fall. It made me miss the ones we had in our backyard in Tampa. We thought about planting some outside of our new (ish) townhome but there isn’t a good sunny spot to put it.

Sunset in the pond across the street. This was in late October. We haven’t seen orange skies since.

Inspire Me Monday

In the yard

In mid-October I had some migrating birds stop by the backyard. Black and white warblers were common here last winter but this was the first time seeing house finches in the backyard.

I saw my first ever worm eating warbler in the backyard. Over the years I had heard of one being reported twice in the Tampa Bay area but I could never find them. I was pretty excited to see him bouncing around near the bird bath. He stayed close under the big palm leaves on the ground and then later disappeared.

Common birds to the backyard are catbirds (I get a lot of them in the winter) and red bellied woodpeckers.

A house finch with just a little red on his head stopped by the feeder.

I’ve had an almost grown baby coming through the backyard alone. When I first saw her in mid October, you could still see the spots on her hind legs.She was all alone. I don’t know what happened to her Mom but I was thinking she was old enough to be on her own.

For several weeks she would come by every afternoon and hang out in the back, feeding and napping. I took all of these through the window because I was afraid I would spook her if I went outside. She saw me in the window though. She would take a quick nap up against my neighbor’s oak tree.

Our hibiscus bush in the front yard has been blooming for a few weeks. I took this with my phone.

Traffic jam on the trail

It wasn’t a four way stop but even if it was the deer was coming out without stopping. I paused as I was walking down a back dirt trail at Chesnut Park when I saw the deer stepping out on the trail. She wasn’t alone.

She had 4 friends and instead of crossing the trail like they usually do they kept on going down the trail. I followed them for a while. They would look back at me but kept going at a slow pace.

At the other side of the park I found a Mom and a young one.

Watching me as I sat in my car watching her.

More shots from deep in the swamp (taken from the boardwalk).

Seeing a lot of spots

I had started keeping my camera in the car because you never know what you see driving through the neighborhood on the way home. I was coming home from a late appointment in early September and saw the twins with Mom. I pulled over and took the above from the car. I didn’t want to spook them by getting out. They started making their way towards the woods and that’s when I realized there was another set of twins just down the road.

They were on the other side of the road and these twins looked just a little younger than the first set. Now I know that are there are 2 sets in the neighborhood. Plus I’ve seen 2 Moms with one baby each.

One of the babies went to Mom to start nursing right when another doe came walking up. I was silently screaming “Move” but she didn’t so this is what I got. I still stayed in the car so they wouldn’t all scatter. It was such a treat to see all of these babies from the comfort of my car.

The other doe eventually moved but not without scratching herself first.

After a few minutes the babies went behind some hedges and sat down to rest. I could see them as I turned down the street and stopped to snap the above before heading home.

Deer in the neighborhood

These 2 bucks were grazing along the golf course in our back yard early one morning. I ran outside to shoot the above.

I was coming home from running errands in mid-August and saw these two along the road in my neighborhood. Luckily I had my camera with me so I pulled over and shot these from the car. At first I just saw the one fawn but then the other one came over quickly to see what was going on.

They were right along the golf course and spent some time running around playing. I was afraid I would spook them into the woods so I stayed in the car watching for a while. I’ve spent so many years looking for fawns in different parks around the area and it’s really cool to see them in my new neighborhood.

A busy fawn season

These must be the same deer that are being feed  I was walking on the back trail at Chesnut Park and several deer walked right up to me  I took the above with my phone.

I didn’t find the twins again but there were 2 Moms with one baby each.

Mom taking care of the baby.

I walked down one of the side trails and found this big guy resting.

I’m not sure if this was a Mom and grown baby or siblings but they were so cute preening each other.

Not a deer but a female redstart. I guess fall migration had started with a small trickle of birds coming through.

Eagles, owls and deer, Oh my.

 

My first eagle sighting of the season. He was hanging out near the restrooms at Chesnut Park. He didn’t stay long, taking off towards the lake. It was mid-August. I didn’t realize they come back that early.

I had heard there was an owl sitting at the end of the boardwalk so I quickly walked down to the end thinking he would probably be gone by then or I wouldn’t be able to find him. There he was, sitting almost eye level. He sat there for a while as I snapped a ton of pictures. He was checking out critters on the ground and I was hoping he would swoop down and catch something but that didn’t happen.

I was walking on the back boardwalk and came across a Mom and her baby. As the Mom was feeding the baby was walking around and walked over to it’s sibling.

I had found the twins. It was interesting to see them both licking each other.

After walking around for a while I came back to the back boardwalk and one of the babies was still sitting there with the sun coming through the swamp. The other twin and Mom were feeding behind some trees.