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.
Was I being watched? I noticed all of the different art faces that are on on the trees at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
Pretty things blooming in July.
You can usually find alligators, bunnies and turtles at any park in the area.
It was a quiet morning for birds though. I’ve been working from home since mid-March so I’m still trying to get out of the house on Saturday mornings for a long walk even if the wildlife is scarce this time of year.
Walking down Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early June. Not much along the trails but gators. I had a rare day off in the week and the reserve was quiet. And, the threat of rain kept people at home.
As I got down to the end of the trail (as far away from my car as possible) the dark clouds were moving in fast.
I quickly ducked under the small rain shelter as the bottom fell out. That was fine. I’ll rest here for a while until it stops.
It started pouring sideways and the rain was coming into the shelter which has a roof but no walls. I had my small umbrella in my backpack that I pulled out but I was still getting soaked from the waist down. There was no one else around except for my friend Henry, the great blue heron, who stayed near the shelter during the pour.
I played games on my phone for a while and took a lot of pictures and after almost an hour of pouring, it dwindled down to a light sprinkle and I headed back down the trail back to the parking lot.
The birds along the trail were all wet. By the time I got back to main trail to the nature center, the sun was coming out and people were coming in looking at me like I was a wet rat. It was still a fun morning.
I made it to the rookery in north Tampa in early June for my last trip of the nesting season. I wasn’t sure if there would still be any babies at this point or would they all be grown up by now. The first thing I saw at the edge of the pond was this tiny gator trying to hide in the vegetation. Even though he was small I still kept my eye on him while I was there.
This cattle egret looks like he has a boo boo on his face. Hopefully it’s just superficial and heals. Maybe he got it in a fight with another egret?
The baby anhingas were already fully grown.
There were still a few little blue herons flirting so there may still be some babies later.
A baby night heron emerged from deep in the bushes.
These flowers were growing all over the rookery as well as along the woods next to street. The ants seemed to be enjoying them.
The fields along the trail was starting to get over-grown in late May at Possum Branch Preserve. Once the grass gets knee high it’s a little creepy to veer off the trail and get close to the marsh.
Baby bluebirds hanging out in a dead tree. Looks like they were just learning to fly.
This guy (male lesser scaup) should have already flown north by mid-May. Not sure why he was still hanging around but he wasn’t there the last time I was at the preserve.
The view from the edge of one of the ponds.
I stopped by the local eagles nest on the way home that’s in a utility tower. I was checking to see if I could see any juvenile eagles hanging around but only the adult was sitting on the tower. Any babies could have been gone by then.
The Sora rail was the talk of the reserve back in early April. I’ve only seen a few rails and they were all at Circle B Bar Reserve. This was a rare sighting for this area so a handful of people were coming to the park to find him. There were actually 3 there and they stayed for a few weeks. They stayed close to the reeds and were digging around in mud looking for food. Since then we’ve had some rain so the ponds are filled back up. Maybe that’s why they eventually left.
The Virginia rail on the left was a nice surprise. I had heard one was there but didn’t see it. I saw the sora on the right far out in the marsh heading towards the reeds and snapped a shot of him and when I cropped this up I realized the Virginia rail was behind him.
Lately there’s been a glossy ibis hanging around the pond. This is another bird that I usually only see in central Florida so it was weird to see him here.
All of the small city parks in Pinellas county were open (playgrounds and bathrooms were closed) in early April so I was going to the same ones just to get out and walk. The parks were quiet and spring migration hadn’t really started yet. Working from home has made me crave long walks in the parks even more. I would usually stop on the way home once or twice a week to walk after work in the spring before it got to hot but now that I”m home it’s hard to get out after work.
Birds on a wire. Crazy black hooded parakeets staring down at me.
Although we have butterflies all year round here in central Florida, they are rare to find in the winter. Now more are showing up since it was warming up in late February.
Skimming the surface, looking for snacks on the water.
I rarely see Cooper’s hawks. This one was hiding off the trail.
Always fun to see the turtles. People feed them here so they are not shy.
A northern parula signing his heart out.
Limpkin with a snack.
Off the boardwalk, taken with my phone.
After leaving Largo Nature Preserve in late February I stopped by Kapok Park on the way home. It was quiet and not many birds around. I had not been here in a long time. The small lake here is lined with cypress trees which turn orange in the fall. I always forget to come here to get pictures of them. By now all of the cypress trees are fully green again but I won’t be seeing them for a while.