I looked out the back window one morning and saw deer on our patio. One was so close. I took these with my camera through the window. I knew they would take off if I opened the door but I think they still saw me.
One walked over to my Christmas cactus (that wasn’t blooming at the time) and started eating it. I took a video of if and above is one of the stills. She demolished it. It was a small one and wasn’t doing very well so I didn’t try and stop her. I replanted the pot with petunias.
Bluebirds taking a bath.
Across the fairway I could see a spoonbill sleeping under a tree. I went outside and snapped the above from our little yard. A little later I saw it feeding in the newly formed pond from the much needed rain we had. I didn’t see anyone on the course so I snuck across to get a little closer.
I sat down under a nearby tree and watched as the spoonbill was feeding. A juvenile little blue heron and a few white ibis were also there.
The young turkey showed up with Mom again. I went outside and took these. They didn’t seem to mind me sitting in the grass nearby. They stayed for a while, pecking around the yard.
I saw another lone turkey taking a nap (or a dirt bath) nearby.
I finally saw the twins in my neighborhood. I was coming home from running errands and had my camera in the car. I pulled over right before my house and snapped them heading into the woods at the end of our street.
The view from across the street in mid-September.
I took these with my phone from the upstairs bathroom window. This was the only night we had a good lightning storm this summer.
It was the end of August and I kept missing all of the fawns this summer. I finally found one with Mom at Chesnut Park. The baby was getting pretty big but still had spots. I only saw them for a minute and they took off deep in the woods.
I found the osprey eating a fish right off the parking lot. I snapped a few pictures and she looked over at me like “I knew I was being watched.”
A scruffy looking female cardinal was eating seed that someone had left on the boardwalk rail.
Reflection of a green heron.
The eagles were back for the winter. I found one hanging out near the restrooms.
The sun was coming up over the trees.
As I was leaving I saw a couple hanging just outside the fence. I pulled over and watched them for a few minutes from the car.
I was out running errands one morning this summer and I had my camera in the car so I took a long slow back road to get home. There wasn’t much traffic on this road so I pulled over to get some shots of the yellow tickseed blooming and the clouds moving in.
I found a cow pasture with a sandhill crane family feeding on the bugs in the cow patties. The couple had a juvenile with them.
A cow was poking her head through the fence to get to the good grass.
A swallow tail kite flies overhead while I was pulled over taking pictures of the cow.
Meadowlarks were singing along the cow pasture.
Why did the vulture cross the road? I saw this vulture sitting on the road up ahead. Then I saw a few more along the ditch so I pulled over.
They were feasting on what looked like a cow leg. So many questions! Did the cow get loose? Did the leg fall off a truck? I didn’t see any cow pastures on this part of the road. Where did it come from? Or was it something else? A wild hog? That would be a pretty big one if so. Vultures are nature’s cleaning crew and they were doing their job.
I went for a walk in Safety Harbor and stopped by the fishing pier before heading home. I immediately spotted a manatee swimming away from the pier. She had some interesting boat strike marks on her back. I was thinking she was heading for the boat channel so I thought this would be the only sighting.
A grackle with a snack that he stole from the garbage can is a regular sight here.
Pelicans were flying around. It looked like they were having a discussion over who got the best spot on the sign. After snapping the above I looked down and saw the below.
The manatee had come back around and got right under the pier. It had some friends as well. There were 4 swimming around this particular morning. The first 3 were taken with my phone. They do look like floating potatoes from up on the pier.
They eventually started swimming away from the pier but not before one of them slapped the water with his tail.
One of them stopped and started floating on his back. I don’t see this often.
When you first drive into Myakka River State Park you come to a small bridge. Most people pull off and park and walk over the bridge to look for alligators. I did the same. I saw all of the above from the bridge. Fourteen alligators in the first few minutes of driving into the park (all from a far away safe distance). That limpkin in the last shot was a little too close though.
After the bridge I pulled over at the big field to get some shots of the tickseed in full bloom.
Out in the field I noticed an eagle sitting high up in a utility tower.
There’s something magical about standing in a field of yellow flowers, especially one this big. I was only standing right off the road.
After taking in the flowers I headed over to the edge of lake to see what I could find. Walking down the path from the parking lot I had to keep my eyes open. This guy was just off the path so I stayed far away.
Looking across a small creek I could see the river bank full of them. I counted 32 alligators this morning. I’m sure it’s the most I’ve seen in one day.
And he’s off, flying like the eagle that he is. 48 days from the first time I saw the baby eagle sitting up in the nest to the day I saw him flying. He was probably flying a few days before and I just missed it but it was great to see him taking those first flights.
He flew down the field to the next set of utility towers. One of the parents was sitting in the tower next to him. He landed on a the tower briefly and then flew over to the parent.
I could hear him screaming and I think he was telling his parent to go get him some food. The parent may have been trying to get him to follow him to hunt but I don’t think Junior was ready at this point. When the parent took off Junior flew back to the nest tower.
He came back and landed on the top of the tower.
I saw one of the parents flying by through the trees.
Junior landed back on the nest and waiting for his breakfast. He must have been hungry because it looked like he was chewing on a stick or maybe playing with it.
Someone was watching me from the field.
There are always a lot of red bellied woodpeckers in the trees at the eagle’s nest and this morning I got a brief glimpse of a great crested flycatcher.
I was looking for little critters while I waited for the eagle parent to bring Junior his breakfast but it got late and I had to run some errands so I left.
AAnother bike ride in mid-April on my favorite trail that runs through the cow pastures. The sun had just come up when I got out there.
I stopped when I saw 2 sandhill cranes walking across the pasture. As I stood there they both went under the fence and onto the trail right in front of me. I had to quickly back up to fit the first one in the shot. I was trying to keep my distance but they kept walking closer. I hope people aren’t feeding them here.
Some of the usual birds along the trail. A great crested flycatcher and a meadowlark. Both with distinct calls so I heard them before I saw them.
When I first got to the eagle’s nest the almost grown babies were eating and a parent was sitting up there with them. Then the parent took off.
Cruising right past me.
As I was standing there watching the eagle flying around I saw the juvenile eagle fly down to the almost dry pond just under the nest. It seemed to be trying to catch something small but I don’t think he succeeded. It might have been a lizard.
The above is not a good shot and I almost didn’t take it thinking it was a red shoulder hawk but when I got home and cropped it up I realized it was a merlin. I have not seen one of those in a long time.
I think this calf now has his own personal cattle egret to follow him around and eat his bugs. They were staring at each other for a while.
This cow had his cattle egret close by but the colors on the cattle egret’s face looks like he was ready to start nesting.
Taken with my phone on the trail, the utility tower on the right is where the eagles have their nest.
I decided to visit the small McGough Park to see if there were any migrating birds in the trees behind the turtle pond. Of course I had no luck on the birds but the pond is always full of turtles. Many were already coming out on the bank to soak up the sun early this morning.
It’s easy to see how the park got it’s nickname “The turtle park”.
There are also gopher tortoise hidden along the trail and if you look on the ground through the trees you might find one wandering around.
A green heron posing for me.
I was sitting on a bench under a tree and this Carolina wren came down next to me and started singing. I didn’t even have to crop this shot.
The park is also home to some permanently injured birds. They are well cared for here and I was able to see this screech owl (missing an eye) on his daily walk with his care taker.
This barred owl is Eugene and was also out for a walk with his care taker. He’s missing an eye as well.
I was standing on the trail at Possum Branch Preserve in April and I saw the above. I wasn’t surprised to see hundreds of cedar waxwings flying across the pond there. They’ve come for a visit at this preserve for several spring seasons. They usually stay for several weeks. The trick to see them up close is to catch them feeding at the big mulberry tree on the trail.
I brought a chair and waited for them to land on the tree. They are very skittish and sometimes only land for a few minutes before taking off across the preserve again. There were several of us sitting quietly on the other side of the trail as they landed in a tree near the mulberry tree.
After a few minutes they all headed over to the mulberry tree and started feasting on the berries. Most of the time they land on the back of the tree that backs up to the pond but sometimes a few might land on the front of the tree. Since this is a short walk from the parking area I spent some time this spring sitting in my chair near the tree.
I found a pair of kildeer far out in the cow pasture.
A Savannah sparrow posed for me on the fence.
I spotted some turkeys on the far side of the cow pasture.
Critters taking a nap along the pond (these were both cropped up).
This is the first time I have seen a snapping turtle on this trail.
My first ever sighting of a Sherman’s fox squirrel. They are only found in Florida and south Georgia. I have heard of sightings of them farther north of Tampa and had heard there were some seen along this trail but I hadn’t seen them until this morning. There were 2 and they stayed far on the other side of the cow pasture so these are heavily cropped. They are bigger than the abundant gray squirrels we have in our backyard.
A red shoulder hawk had something furry in his talons and when I stopped to get my camera out he turned around to hide his prey. I quickly snapped the above and then left him to his meal.