Just getting out of the house

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.

Little critters.

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.

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Waiting out the rain

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.

SkyWatch Friday

 

Baby birds growing up

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.

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Morning walk at Possum Branch Preserve.

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.

The usual.

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.

 

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Dinner time at Possum Branch Preserve

Across the pond I could see this osprey hovering, looking for fish.

Eventually he splashed down and got a fish but took off in the other direction.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, an anhinga was having trouble getting his big catch down. He eventually swallowed it in one big gulp.

Another anhinga scored across the pond. It was a busy fishing night right before dark.

This guy was just cruising around.

A few of the other critters on my walk after work.

A very cool tree in the woods.

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Riding the “rails”.

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.

You can always see gators and bunnies here.

It was nice just being outside.

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This could be any park

Usual birds at Largo Nature Preserve.

The usual critters as well.

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.

Two parks in the morning.

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.

SkyWatch Friday

Nice morning at the zoo

Fun animals at Zoo Tampa in late February. The weather was cool so many of the animals were moving around. This was the first time in a long time I’ve seen the bears playing together.

The eagle was stretching and you can see he has part of his wing missing. He was injured out in the wild and lives at the zoo now. The other eagle was sitting high up in the tree looking over the zoo.

The lorikeets were all flirting and preening.

I can’t go to the zoo and not take a ton of manatee pictures.

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Circle B Bar Reserve in early January.

Eagle sightings along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve.

Out in the marsh, a lone sandhill crane was among the wood storks. At first he was feeding but then he stopped and started calling across the marsh.

He then took off, flying right in front of me.

Along the trail.

Taken with my 300mm lens, this big guy was napping out in the water.

My Corner of the World