It was early May and I was heading up to the Chinsegut Conservation Center to see if there were any migrating birds. I wasn’t sure if I would see sandhill cranes there. I hadn’t seen any there since early 2022. I was sitting quietly on the bench behind the nature center, waiting for birds to come to the feeders and this family came cruising through the area. They slowly walked around looking for bugs to eat. It was fun watching the two young ones acting like toddlers.
They were not shy and walked really close to me. I pulled out my phone and snapped the above.
I left the nature center and was heading back home on a back road when I saw more sandhill cranes out in a cow pasture. I pulled over and snapped a few shots of them and realized they were eating bugs off the cow poop. Yum!
I had heard there was a haunted house in nearby Brooksville so I made a quick stop. The May-Stringer house is said to be the most haunted house in Florida. You can read all about the house here. The house was built in 1855 and went through many owners before it was sold to the Hernando Historical Association in 1980. It was beautiful on the outside and they were closed the day I was there so maybe I’ll get back here and take a tour.
There is an old grave on the backside of the house.
The Saxon Manor house is another old historic home that was built in 1877. It’s now a wedding/event venue. There’s a lot of great old houses in Brooksville. I’m going to try and get back up here in the winter and do a tour of the old houses.
At the end of June I made a transport for Raptor Center of Tampa Bay. Injured or lost baby birds were still coming in and needed to get to a rehabber in St. Pete. This one was a small load. A baby mockingbird, a sick kestrel and 2 loud baby crows made the trip. Those crows were cawing the entire ride to St. Pete.
The 4th of July was going to be a stay at home and relax kind of day but the call came out for a much needed transport. I left Brett watching sports on the couch and headed to Brandon. Those baby opossums were so cute! She was holding the smallest “runt” of the litter, checking to make sure it was warm enough to make the trip.
Nancy from Raptor Center posted this on the Facebook page with the stories of what happened to these babies.
A week later I was at Moccasin Lake Nature Park waiting to take a baby kestrel to Apopka. The Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka is a great place for lost baby raptors to grow up and get released. They had just received another young one so the one I was taking would get a “sibling” to grow up with. While I was waiting on the kestrel I walked around for a few minutes and checked out some of the permanently injured birds that live there. The eagle was found with a bad wing injury and is not able to be fully flighted. I was surprised to see the swallow tail kite there sitting on the perch at the front of the cage. There were 2 in the exhibit as well as a Mississippi kite (which is a rare bird around here).
The baby kestrel was ready to go and I stepped in the kitchen for a minute and got to see the meals going out to all of the injured birds. Doesn’t that look yummy (don’t look closely at the bowls if you are squeamish)? I looked away from the cart and noticed an adult kestrel sitting on the desk. I’m assuming he got his breakfast first.
This tiny baby kestrel was making the 2 hour trip to Apopka. This was my first trip to the Avian Reconditioning Center. It’s a huge place with big barn size flight cages on the property. I wish I had taken some pictures but it was so hot and they were busy so I dropped of the little one and left.
I had not been out to Roosevelt Wetlands since last summer. I forget what a cool small reserve this is. I had heard there were some new birds there so I went for a short walk in early May. The raised trail down the middle of the pond is full of Indian blanket flowers and they were in full bloom.
I immediately saw a bunny right on the trail.
The sun had been up for a while and I could see an osprey sitting on the platform nest ahead of me.
I could hear him yelling as I passed the platform and turned around to see the juvenile staring right at me.
This Momma moorhen was busy with 2 little ones.
There were several young little blue herons along the trail. They were just started to get their blue feathers in.
An adult little blue heron shaking it off.
A least tern flies by.
I also saw several spoonbills.
A kildeer was walking in front of me and then disappeared into the flowers.
I did find those new shorebirds that were here but more on those later.
In early May Brett and I took a road trip to the Fort Lauderdale area to visit his relatives. It’s just a quick 4 hour drive from our house in Oldsmar. We always pass this old historic spot at Yeehaw Junction. The old Desert Inn Bar was built in 1889 and has been standing in this spot since then. In 2019 a tractor trailer truck ran into the side of it and did a lot of damage. Original word was that it was going to be restored but that hasn’t happened yet. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
The new hotel addition of the Hard Rock Hotel can be see from almost any of the main roads through Fort Lauderdale. We passed it on the way to a restaurant during our stay.
We were in our hotel room before heading out to dinner and Brett was looking out the window and saw this large iguana walking towards the hotel. I jumped up and grabbed my camera and ran down. He was already in this palm tree when I got to him. That doesn’t look like a comfortable spot.
I saw a lot of these lizards everywhere we went. It was the first time I really noticed them around.
A sun halo high up on our way to lunch.
We were checking out of our hotel and Brett went to get the car. I looked over and saw a tiny bird sitting on the sidewalk. I walked right over to this black throated blue warbler and he let me pick him up. He must have hit a window. I put him on top of the bushes and by the time Brett came and we loaded the car he flew off.
Heading home over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. They were repainting the yellow cables. I can’t image being high up in those little boxes painting while cars are whizzing by. The view is probable amazing though.
In late April I made a quick stop at Chesnut Park to see if there were any migrating birds hanging around. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of warblers come through here during migration but the only thing I found was the usual titmouse. They come really close because people feed them here. They come down close to the boardwalk to see if you have snacks. Once they realize you aren’t carrying they head back up to the tops of the trees.
The squirrels are also being fed here so they check you out as well.
I came home and it was still to early for lunch so I hopped on my bike and went for a quick pedal around the neighborhood. The first thing I saw was a bunny. A brown thrasher flew in front of me as I was taking a picture of the bunny. Was he posing for me?
I found a limpkin in the pond down the street from our house in the same spot the limpkin babies were last year. The water was much lower this year and at first I only saw the adult. He was calling to another limpkin that was farther down the creek.
I left my bike in the bushes and followed the creek along the golf course (no one was playing at the time) and saw another adult limpkin far in the woods. I could just barely make out a baby in the sticks. They stayed pretty hidden and eventually worked their way down behind the houses so I couldn’t follow them any farther. I’m assuming they were farther back since the water was a little higher there.
And, a random alligator that I saw in the neighborhood. This was taken with my 300mm lens and cropped so he was pretty far away.
It was the end of May and still not much rain which meant it was beautiful out on the Dunedin causeway. I pulled over for a quick walk and then pulled out my beach chair and tried to read a book but I was too distracted by the view.
Eventually clouds started move in and I could see it raining far out past Honeymoon Island.
Heading home I could see that they finally finished painting another turtle on the other side of the water tower.
The clouds right before I got home looked interesting so I stopped at the Oldsmar pier.
I could see rain in the direction of my home (we did get a quick shower).
There was a big storm far out in the bay coming from Tampa and heading towards Clearwater. I was hoping for a rainbow and waited a while until hunger won out and I headed home for lunch.
I made another trip to Fort Desoto Park in late April. I was hoping there would still be some migrating birds stopping by. There was a small chance of rain even though it looked like it would pour at any time.
The only migrating bird I found was a Cape May warbler. There were several of these cuties in the woods near the ranger’s house.
Heading to the gulf fishing pier.
The usual birds were at the fishing pier including a ruddy turnstone showing me his missing foot and great egrets.
The laughing gulls were putting on a show on top of the shelter on the pier.
I thought maybe the sun would break through but it stayed cloudy.
Pelicans hanging out on the jetti next to the pier.
A quick shot of a red breasted merganser that was still there. They spend the winter here but usually leave in March.
It was still a nice morning out even though it wasn’t very birdy or sunny.
I was running errands nearby the neighborhood that has the peacocks roaming around so I stopped by to see if there were any more babies. I found 2 different Moms with little ones. One baby was a little bigger than the other.
This Mom had 7 babies and they were just cruising down the street.
There were lots of males hanging out.
This one looks like a juvenile male. His pretty feathers aren’t quite grown in yet but he was already strutting around.
I got a quick sighting of the white peacock but I still haven’t seen him spread his feathers out yet. Maybe he hasn’t seen a lady that he wants to flirt with yet (or I’m just not catching it).
Right before leaving I saw the white female and she had a little baby. The baby was sticking close to Mom and I only got a quick shot before they headed for the back of a house.
I was heading for another chiropractor appointment in Ybor City early one morning and I saw a Mom with her babies standing in the middle of the road. I drove down the road they were on and they were not going to move. Since I had a few minutes before my appointment I pulled over into a parking spot and got out and shooed them back on to the sidewalk. They reluctantly allowed me to move them over.
At first they all ran and hide under Mom.
Then the babies started to wander around nearby.
After my quick appointment I drove back down the street and there they were, back in the middle of the street again. I guess they feel like they own the streets (they are protected here) and spend a lot of time in them. I was just being a tourist trying to shoo them over to the sidewalk.
I found another Mom nearby with several bigger babies.
The boys were still strutting around in the same spot as last week.
This Mom had 6 babies.
Driving down the main street (7th Avenue) at 9:30 in the morning, most of the restaurants and shops had not opened up yet.
It was mid-May and the backyard was blooming. The hanging shrimp plant really made the backyard pop. Bees were always visiting it but one day I was out with my camera and caught the tiny moth on the underside of the petals.
The titmouse was watching the big ants inside the hummingbird feeder. He was trying to understand why he couldn’t get to them (I have since changed to a bigger hummingbird feeder and the ants don’t seem to get on the new one as much).
The juvenile titmouse were usually on the feeder but this morning I saw them bouncing around the small palm tree up against our house.
We still had northern parulas in late May.
Mom Carolina wren was calling her young ones to follow her. She was sitting on our garage roof and I could see her through the kitchen window.
Her two almost grown babies were playing around in the small tree in front of our kitchen window. One came close to the window and stared at me. I can still see a little baby yellow around the beak.
I’m always looking out the back window to see if any critters are cruising by and one day I saw a turtle walking down the fairway. He eventually made it over to the pond. I could see the silhouette of a bluebird behind him.
An almost cloudless sunset. We’ve gotten a little rain since May but not much.
I was sitting at the pool reading and looked up and saw the sun halo.