Going home in the fog.

After walking around Lake Dan Preserve in north Tampa, it started to get foggy on the drive home. It wasn’t foggy on the way up so it was weird driving back in the fog. I always love stopping on a quiet rode and taking pictures of the cows (one day I will get that shot of the cattle egret sitting on top of the cow) and I wasn’t in a big hurry to get home. 

Just a long quiet drive along back roads.

SkyWatch Friday

A sad story on a beautiful afternoon

It was a beautiful afternoon in late January and I was able to get outside for a little while on a late Friday before sunset. I jumped in the car and headed over to Dunedin, thinking I would stop by the fishing pier and then go over for a quick walk at the causeway. I was snapping the shot of the water when I turned around and noticed the two osprey that had built a nest on top of the building next to the pier.  I was pretty excited to see the camera up on the top but when I got home and searched it, you could only see over the building so the camera wasn’t look down on the nest. Would have been fun to watch that nest up close.

I found this cute little boat in the marina that I hadn’t seen before.

I headed over to the beach area on the causeway and saw the sailboat that has washed up back in November during Hurricane ETA. I had seen many pictures of it posted on the internet, people climbing and playing on it. They had it roped off which didn’t make for a pretty picture. I have since heard that it was hauled away a few weeks after I took this. The state of these old damaged sailboats are sad. At some point years ago, someone paid a lot of money for this boat. Probably used it at first. Then it sits out there for a long time and becomes a hazard. The owner, if they had insurance, probably just collected and moved on. Many people with these old boats let their insurance lapse and the city pays for the haul. Not sure if they can sell them for scrap.

On a sad note, at the end of the causeway, a dead dolphin had washed up on shore hours before I arrived. Everyone was standing around watching the marine life rescue team (with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the flipperless dolphin resides) get him ready to be taken away. They will do a necropsy on him to find out the cause of death. Was he old? Sick?  Eaten something bad? Hit with a boat? Swallowed too many fish hooks from stealing fish from the fishermen at the pier? So many questions.  Everyone was watching from a respectful distance. It was sad to watch these volunteers do their work.

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The floating Florida potato

One of the magical things about living in central Florida is seeing the manatees out in the wild. One of the best places to see them up close is at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, an hour north of Tampa. The springs that run through the area stay fairly warm all year so the manatees congregate far into the springs in the winter. The wildlife park has both a bridge and a dock that goes over the springs.  I headed up in late December early in the morning and got there when the park opened. Most of the manatees were around the dock. I caught two mothers with babies right when I got there. One baby was hanging on to Mom’s flipper as they came up for air right in front of me. The dock looks over the area where you can swim with the manatees.  After seeing all of the crowds here in the winter, I’m not a big fan. Not when I can see them this close from the dock. I don’t really feel like people need to swim right up to them. The manatees do have roped off “no people” zones where they can hide but I’ve seen the river here almost body to body with people. I get that it’s amazing having a manatee swimming right up to you but I still feel like they should remain truly wild. I do have to say Brett and I were at the Fort Desoto beach several years ago in the summer and I had a manatee swim up to me when we were swimming out to the sand bar. He didn’t get quite close enough for me to touch him but it was still amazing. All I could think of was were was my camera?


So many coming up for air right in front of me. Most of them have distinctive marks on their backs so you could track the different ones coming up to the dock. Many have barnacles or moss growing on their backs.

I’m glad I brought my shorter lens with me but I took the two above with my phone since I couldn’t fit them all in with my camera. You can really see the boat propeller scars on the first one.

Looking out over the bridge, you could see the manatee dots in the clear water.

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An interesting morning at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

It’s always fun to see lots of robins in the trees. We only see them here briefly in the winter. The trees were full of them at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in late December.

A few of the resident birds. The caracara in the bottom picture is a not a bird you see in this area. They are mostly in south central Florida so it’s interesting to see them here. This one had some type of injury. Possibly missing wing or vision.

The otters were being so cute this morning, although seeing those teeth makes you realize they can be pretty tough. They were feeding in the pond right up against the boardwalk. I love watching them eating while swimming on their backs. That’s a real talent.

I’m sure this happens more than we see out in the wild. The alligator was not fed this bird by the staff. I missed the early action but people saw him grabbing this bird. Based on the pink legs and white wings with a little black, thinking it’s a white ibis that got too close. The alligator was all the way across the pond in the first shot but was swimming fast away from the other alligators who were chasing him trying to steal his snack. He then heading into the far corner right in front of me. Sad but circle of life.

My Corner of the World

Sweet interactions

I stopped by Chesnut Park early on a Saturday for a quick walk and saw the deer across the baseball field. They were eating the leaves from the trees.

I found Mom and the baby again and hid in the bushes for a few minutes watching them interact. It was so sweet watching them for a while until the park got busy and they headed into the woods.

Some black birds on Halloween

When thinking of a bird that could represent Halloween I think of vultures. Crows or ravens would be scarier but I didn’t come across those recently.  On a day off in September I headed down an hour from my house to Myakka River State Park. I had not been in over a year and wasn’t expecting to find much there in September but I wanted to get out of the house. I found a little obscure trail that led to a dead end with a small dock across the river.  The roof of the dock was covered in vultures and there  were  more nearby on the ground. I think there had been a dead alligator in the area. They were looking at me very curiously, probably wondering what I was doing in their spot.

Up close. This one has a small boo boo on his face.

On the ground next to the trail.

Taken with my phone, you could see how close they were.

I was keeping an eye on this guy right below me in the water.

Hot and muggy at the botanical gardens

I found a green heron hiding in the bushes.

I think this is a 5 lined skink. I don’t see them often.

Butterflies were everywhere back in early August.

The butterfly garden was pretty overgrown at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo in early August. It was hot and muggy. After walking around the gardens for a while I thought I would just go hang out here and take butterfly pictures but after a few minutes and shots, it was just too hot so I headed home.

My Corner of the World

Seeing spots

I got to Chesnut Park early one Saturday morning in August not expecting to see anything but there it was. The cutest thing with spots.

I stood next to my car for a while watching baby and Mom feeding near the back parking lot. All of a sudden something catches Mom’s eye.

I turned around and the young male with only one antler was walking up. I’ve been seeing him a lot recently, calling him Unicorn. I’m assuming the other side of his antlers will grow in as he gets older. He didn’t get too close to Mom and baby.

The baby was cute as usual, staying close to Mom and copying her.

After walking around the park for a while, I saw them again on the other side of the lake. The baby tried to nurse for a second but Mom kept moving.

Eventually they started heading towards the back woods so I headed home. What is it about baby deer that’s so exciting? The same for dolphins and manatees or even hummingbirds?

My Corner of the World

Don’t chew with your mouth full!

As I was walking around Crescent Lake Park, this guy swam right in front of me and proceeded to chowing down on something he had caught under the water. Some type of crab or maybe a crawfish. He went down several times and was stuffing himself. He seemed to be showing off, chewing with his mouth wide open. He put on a show but never came up out of the water. I stepped back and hid behind a tree for a while hoping he would come on the grass but he eventually started swimming over to the other side of the lake.

He checked out this drink can and played with it a few minutes.

He popped up in the middle of the spadderdock plant and had another mouthful. This guy was having quite the feast. He checked me out for a few seconds before ducking back under the water.

Later, farther down the lake he was checking out a drain pipe. At this point I lost track of him so I finished my walk around the lake.

A walk down Marsh Rabbit Run

Different herons down the trail, A great blue, tricolored, a night heron and then another tricolored almost swimming.

Turtle on the trail.

Why do always get the butt shot pose?  I almost never see these guys walking around and when I do they have their back to me. Usually I just see the below, snoozing and cruising.

All along the trail.

Trees and flowers along the trail.

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