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.

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

All kinds of critters.

Tussock moth caterpillars are fairly common in late March but I’ve never seen this many at one place. I usually only see one or two. At the Florida Botanical Gardens the boardwalk was full of them. I tried to keep my distance as I was taking pictures of them. While they are pretty and cool looking, they can leave a nasty rash if you brush up against them. I kept checking to make sure one hadn’t fallen on my backpack.

They turn into these coccoons before turning into a moth. The leaves on the palm trees around the boardwalk were full of these as well.

White peacock butterflies are very common but I think they are pretty.

After leaving the botanical gardens I headed to nearby McGough Nature Park to look for migrating birds. I first stopped at the turtle pond and saw two turtles climbing a tree. They got about half way up before heading back down.

I also watched this raccoon climb up a tree and then head back down.

The bottle brush trees near the entrance were in full bloom. I stopped to snap this butterfly and then heard the faint sound of hummingbirds whizzing by.

There were 4 hummingbirds feeding on the two trees. They were only feeding on the back side that hangs over the lake so it was a challenge to get them feeding. They would rest high up on the front and then go back to feed.

After standing there for an hour I only got the above two shots of them feeding. It was very frustrating to watch them fly to the back of the trees and disappear.

They have several resident injured birds that live on the property, all taken care of by volunteers. This barred owl was watching his person talking to him. He seemed to understand every word she was saying. They were sitting outside in front of the turtle pond.

It was still a little early for migrating birds so I didn’t find any of them.

Backs and snouts

After a long cold spell in January I headed over to the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa Electric plant. The manatees hang out around the warm water coming off the electric plant that comes out in the bay. There were hundreds there the morning I visited. It was like a big bowl of potato soup.

One thing you notice is all of the different backs they have. Some have scratches from boat strikes, some have barnacles growing on their backs and some have algae growing on them. One had a back completely covered in barnacles. He must have been pretty old to have his back covered in them.

There’s something special about a manatee snout coming up for air. They pretty much look the same but a closer look and some are rounder than others and some have longer hairs or whiskers.

All of the tails look different as well. This one was covered in barnacles. Many had big scratches on them.

This one was a released manatee (from a rehab center) and has a monitor on his tail so they can track his movement.

I spent several hours that morning watching the manatees. I got there when it opened and it got busy quickly for a Monday morning in January. So many people are coming to Florida for vacation instead of leaving the country to go to the Caribbean. Tampa has been crazy crowded for months now with tourists.

My Corner of the World

Big floating potatoes (manatees)

It had been cold for a while in mid-January so I drove up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park to see if there were a lot of manatees close to the docks. As soon as I got out to the dock this mom (with her baby) did a twirl for me and was showing her belly.

There were hundreds of manatees out in the river, many were close to the bridge that goes over the river in the park. You could see many of the cuts and scratches on their backs from boat strikes. A lot of them had babies.  The one in the above picture had algea growing on her back.

I liked this shot with the reflection of the palm tree in the water.

I took this with my phone since he was right along the dock.

At the underwater viewing area the fish were close to the glass.

 

Critters in the yard in January

Brett was in the car, backing out of the driveway on the way to work when he called me. He says “There’s deer in the front yard”. He was afraid if he got out of the car and came back in to tell me they would leave. I went flying out of the house with my camera to see them cruising through our yard and around to the back. This will never get old.

One morning I was walking by the back window and saw a hawk sitting on the bird feeder. Ugh, well that’s not going to get me any songbirds. Again, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door. He didn’t even flinch as I walked up to the feeder. I finally waved my arms at him and he flew over to a nearby tree. I think he was trying to catch some lizards.

A few of the visitors to the birdbath in January. The yellow throated warbler has been hanging out for a while now. He will probably head north soon for the summer.

This looks like a new visitor. I’m not sure what this is. It’s a juvenile. It’s got the beak of bunting or a goldfinch. Or, maybe it’s a house finch? The yellow around the head is throwing me off.

Right before dark as I was closing the curtians I saw this dove sitting on the bird bath every night for a week. It was a chilly week so I was wondering if he wanted to come in to warm up? One night I could see the moon coming through the trees so I ran out and shot the above.

I added sunflower seeds to the feeder and finally got a bluebird on it. My neighbor has a feeder full of sunflower seeds (and one with mealworms) and he always has a lot of bluebirds.

I’m always amused at the antics of the many squirrels in the backyard. I think this one was taking a nap in the sun except he was upside down. He stayed there for a while.

 

The same ole things

The welcoming committee at the entrance to Circle B Bar Reserve wasn’t doing a very good job. They were too busy stuffing their faces. Pigs.

It was a generally quiet morning for birds in late December. A sparrow, a downy woodpecker (making that landing), an anhinga posing and the usual black bellied whistling ducks.

Across the lake anhingas were hanging out in a bald cypress tree. The tree was losing it’s leaves for the winter, although this one looks like it’s been broken off at the top.

Far across the marsh I could see a northern harrier and an eagle. After standing there on the trail for an hour hoping either would get closer, I finally gave up and headed home for lunch.

My Corner of the World

In the yard in January

I pulled back the curtains one recent morning and saw deer in my neighbor’s yard. I tried to quietly crack the door open so I could take some pictures. They eventually saw me but kept on eating in the area.

I went back inside and a few minutes later I saw them heading across the golf course and towards the woods (the golfers would be coming through soon). I snapped the above with my phone. You can just see the last deer (to the left of the tree) as they left. They never seem to stay in one spot long, always moving around and always close to the woods.

For early January, the squirrels were already getting frisky. One is always snoozing on the broken branch. All taken through the window.

Yes, we are getting blooms in January. The temperature this month fluxuates between 78 degrees and 50 degrees.

We had an ibis hanging around the back door and a juvenile blue heron grabbing a frog at the end of our driveway.

Beautiful skies with the sunset in the front pond as I was getting the mail. One night I saw the red clouds and ran out on the golf course right before dark.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Neighborhood walk in the fog

I peaked out the window in early December and saw the fog.  It was a good morning for a walk in the neighborhood.

The lake across from our home was almost covered in fog. It was cool out but I felt like I was walking through a shower.

Heading down the street I saw this guy cross in front of me. I pulled my phone out and quickly snapped this since I knew he would be gone in seconds.

I got to my favorite open spot and I could barely see the utility towers in the open field. The sun was just starting to come up behind the trees so I knew the fog would be gone soon.

There were some ladies having breakfast in the woods next to the field. I didn’t see them when I was walking to the end but saw them coming back.

SkyWatch Friday

Where injured sea critters live

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has more than just rescued dolphins. They also take in other injured animals from all over. You are greated by these white pelicans when you first come into the aquarium. They have a lot of character but the glare on the glass is a challenge.

After walking around for a while, we realized we could see them from the other side as well. They had moved over to the inside of the exhibit and I think I bonded over this one for a second.

Up close with some crabs.

You can also see stingrays up close.

All of the turtles here have some type of injury. The top one had lost his back flippers and the bottom one lost his front flippers. There are all types of injuries, most of them here are man made. Boat strikes, getting flippers tangled in fishing line or crab trap lines. The aquarium also rehabilitates a lot of turtles when red tide (algea bloom) is bad but any of those that recover are released.