Rainbow beaks and pink legs

I love seeing the cattle egrets during mating season. Their beaks change colors and the feathers on their back turn tan. The one above was only slightly changed. During non-breeding season all of his feathers would be white. These are all from my annual trip to the bird rookery in north Tampa in April.

This one was ready to nest. HIs beak is in bright orange and yellow colors with that touch of purple at his face and his legs have turned pink. He was busy bring sticks to the nest deep in the bushes.

After many trips to the nest with sticks, he stood on a branch and took a break. It’s hard to believe this is the same type of bird as the one in the first picture.

You could just make out the mate in the bushes. She was busy putting the sticks in the right place on that tiny nest.  Soon they’ll be starting a family.

My Corner of the World

 

Colors in the backyard

Shots from my backyard on different nights in the last few months. The pink and purple ones are from the same night (and I did not change those colors). It was from right before the storm came in and then you can see the rain moving down the channel. Even though we can see all of the neighbor’s yards, we have a great view of the sunset.

We had a male house finche at our feeder for several days in April. This was the first time in years that I had seen one here.

Starlings have been nesting in our neighbor’s boat lift. I think this is a young one. They usually hit the grass when the babies are first flying and pick out all of the bugs but lately we’ve been getting a lot at the feeder.

A little blue heron on our neighbor’s dock.

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I found the needle in the haystack

Circle B Bar Reserve is a huge place. I’ve walked the trails for fours hours at time and not walked in the same place. The painted buntings have been seen around the nature center and out on the trails during the winter on a regular basis although I rarely see them there. I didn’t expect to see them on this trip in late March. I was walking around behind the nature center and was heading for my car and saw a flash of color go by. I realized it was a painted bunting.

This little guy was eating the seed in the tall grass behind the center.

I realized when I got home and cropped these up that it was one of the regulars that has been seen at the reserve this winter. People call him “Peg Leg” since he is missing his left foot. He’s perched on the stalk with his right foot and his left leg. That’s why you can only see one foot in the first picture.

He flew into a tree and then flew across the parking lot.

I walked over and found a female painted bunting. She really blended into the bushes and this was the only shot I got of her.

I found Peg Leg again as he continued to eat. The leg with the missing foot is quite clear in this shot.

He posed for me, probably thinking “Lady I’m trying to eat.” although I was pretty far away. It was a nice way to end this trip. This might have been a record year of painted bunting sightings for me.

“Here comes the sun”

It wasn’t dark but the sun had not come up when I arrived at the beach at Fort Desoto in late March. The time had just recently changed and it was still dark after 7am so it wasn’t that early. Still, I was all alone on the beach with the exception of a great blue heron.

After a few minutes the sun was slowly starting come up over the bridge and the birds started to fly around.

Then minutes later it rose quickly and the pelicans were diving in the water for fish.

I turned around to head out to the other side of the park to look for birds and noticed the flag at half staff over the palm trees.

Good thing I had my shoes on. The beach had a lot of these spiky sea urchins as the tide was coming back in.

SkyWatch Friday

 

A new bird at Largo Nature Preserve

Mucsovy ducks are having babies at all of the local ponds including Largo Nature Preserve.

This blue winged teal couple was still floating around in late March.

The monk parakeets were flying back and forth getting sticks for their nests. Here they nest in a big utilty complex.

The dead trees near the parking lot were full of residents. The first one had a flicker nesting in it. Every once in a while she would poke her head out. The next tree had a hole that was full of bees. The next tree had several red bellied woodpeckers checking out the holes. They may nest later.

After several stops at this park looking for this ash throated flycatcher that had been seen by other birders for the last few weeks, I finally found it on the 3rd try. Luckily this was a “third time’s a charm” instead of “three strikes and you’re out.” It was hopping around in the trees right in the parking lot catching dragonflies. This was a new bird for me and while it’s not quite as pretty as the great crested flycatcher that we get pretty often around here, it was still a great find.

Walking on the boardwalk around the small lake, I found this nest. I’m thinking it’s a moorhen nest since there are a lot of them on this lake but I didn’t see any near this nest. Assuming it’s abandoned but hoping the parent just left for a quick bite.

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Back at Bok

Driving into Bok Tower Gardens you wind through orange groves and you can see the top of the carillon hovering over the trees. At this point the trees were heavy with ripe oranges in early April. I wish it was closer to my home. It’s an hour and a half away but worth the drive every once in a while. The worst part is putting your life on the line driving across crazy I4 for about 45 minutes but after that it’s a nice back road drive through small towns. I like seeing the cows as I pass by and I keep an eye out for eagles cruising in the skies.

This huge beautiful arrangement greats you at the entrance of the visitor’s center.

Lots of yellow and orange blooming when I was there. I love the orange sunflowers.

Little critters were flying around.

I found a lot of amaryllis blooming near the back exit by the parking lot. It made me think it was still Christmas but the heat reminded me it was not.

This was an interesting cactus. I don’t remember ever seeing these guys sprout like this. It looked like a big asparagus growing out of it.

I was hoping for a few spring migrates at the bird feeder by the pond but all I got was catbirds and cardinals.

While sitting on the bench waiting for birds at the feeder, this guy walked right up to me. Maybe people feed them here? He looked at me for a few seconds and then went to the ground under the feeder and started digging around for seeds. I think we had a connection!

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Please don’t use rat poison

“What is everone looking at? Wait, I see a rat in the parking lot. Tell Mom to go get it.”

“I am Dracula. I suck the blood of rats”

“Soon I’ll be flying and can go get my own rat.”

“She’s taking my picture. I need to move over here to the best spot.”

Right before dark all three of the babies lined up and I got a shot of them all together. Both parents had just flown away, assuming to go get dinner. Since they are so curious, they were always looking everywhere. It was so amazing seeing these guys growing up. It really is a privilage to have these owls growing up in such a populated area. I didn’t make it back to the nest after this to see them all grown up.  Unfortunately no one got to see 2 of them grow up. I just recently found out that 2 of them died from rat poison. The third one survived. Maybe he didn’t get to eat as much of that poisoned rat that the parent brought back. This is what happens when people use rat poison boxes. The rats don’t die right away and the owl grabs it to bring back to the nest. These owls are a  natural pest control and the three young ones would have cleaned out most of the area of rats for a while when they first start to hunt.

Walking through the fog.

Some of the critters along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in late March including that cute little mouse in the bottom pictures. The alligators were out everywhere and making their loud mating bellow. Even if you couldn’t see them you could hear them bellowing all over the marsh.

It was a quiet morning for flying critters.

The trails were covered in fog when I got to the preserve early in the morning. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the trails and it was a nice quiet morning. I like being here in the fog for a change of season since it makes it seem like winter even if it was mild and muggy.

The bottom two pictures are panos with my phone.

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Taking the long way home

 

I was taking the scenic route home from Bok Tower Gardens and circled partially around a small lake in Lake Wales instead of taking the short cut to the main road. You never know what you may find along a lake. I found two sandhill crane families, both with one baby. I parked at the playground and just walked a few steps and caught the above family as they were cruising along the marshy area of the lake. The baby was getting big and was walking around on his own while still staying close to the parents. After a handful (okay, maybe 100 snaps) I jumped back in the car and continued on my way.

I think these are weeds but I love seeing them out in the open field.

And this little guy was hiding in some of the “weeds” on the other side of the lake. At first I just saw the parents and got out of the car anyway to walk around at the main parking area and then saw the baby pop out of the weeds. He was still pretty tiny.

He sat patiently as one of the parents was looking around for bugs. I caught him getting a bug from the parent. When the baby sat down he was much shorter that those daisy weeds and could easily hide in them. These are all extremely cropped so I don’t even think they noticed me.

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Painted Wildlife

Spoonbills painted on a water tower in St. Pete.

On the side of a building in downtown Tampa during the Gasparilla Art Festival several years ago. I think there’s a new building blocking it now.

An exit ramp off I75 in central Florida.

My favorite water tower in St Pete.

Above are from Tarpon Springs. The pelican is on the wall at one of our favorite restaurants in Tarpons Springs, Hellas.

One of the many murals in Wynwood Walls, Miami.

I took this years ago on the side of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  I was there recently and with all of the renovations and construction that they went through, the mural is still there.

You can find painted turtles and dolphins all over the Tampa Bay area. Most are in heavy tourist traffic areas. The above were at the Clearwater Marina on Clearwater Beach.

The above was at Save Our Seabirds in Sarasota. They rescue and rehabilitate injured birds (all birds, not just seabirds).

A great restaurant in Miami that we ate at years ago.

At Brett’s aunt’s nursing home. The top one is painted on the outside of the building. The bottom is in the main lobby.

A great little take out place in downtown St. Pete.

I was going through some older pictures recently and realized I had a lot of pictures of  painted wildlife. Brett asked if I even remembered where I took them. Yes, every one of them. Although, I can’t remember which exit off I75 that the fish are painted underneath. We were on our way back from Atlanta years ago and had stopped for Blizzards from Dairy Queen. Somewhere between Ocala and Tampa.

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