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.

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It’s starting to look like fall in mid- December.

The usual birds at  Chesnut Park in mid-December.

A sleepy alligator.

Color from across the lake. It finally looks like fall as the cypress trees start to turn.

The sun peaking through along the trail. These were taken with my phone.

It’s not often I see two pileated woodpeckers on the same tree. I took this with my phone since I couldn’t fit both of them in with my 300mm lens and I couldn’t back up into the swamp.

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Other animals at the reserve

This turkey made it through Thanksgiving weekend. He seemed a little skittish when I saw him just off the trail in early November.

I saw  Oreo (resident black and white feral hog) in the swamp near the nature center.

Other critters along the trail. It was interesting to see the squirrel eating a big mushroom.

A few tiny critters at Circle B Bar Reserve in early November.

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Other stuff at the Florida Aquarium

It’s not often you can get close up to a ruddy duck or a wood duck. They are very different than the common mallards or muscovy ducks that most people see in their neighborhoods.

Turtles and alligators. The funny thing in the bottom picture is that the alligator has his foot on the other alligator’s head.

Scenes from the top deck of the Aquarium, looking down the channel and around the city. I know it looks like it was too pretty a day to be inside but it was so hot and humid that it was nice to spend the morning in air conditioning.

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By the dock at Chesnut Park

It’s fairly rare to see purple gallinules in Pinellas county. Occasionally one pops up in a weird spot but doesn’t stay long. I usually only see them in central Florida, at Circle B Bar Reserve or Lake Parker. Now there seems to be several families living near the dock over the lake at Chesnut Park. They’ve been reported there for several weeks and they have a juvenile with them. They were really close to the dock.

The juvenile doesn’t quite have his bright colors yet.

This squirrel was missing his tail.

Little critters along the dock.

These dogs at the end of the dock looked at me like “We don’t know what they are staring at. Would you play with us?”

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