Sunny and stormy in the same morning.

I was out not very early one morning this summer and headed to Safety Harbor.  I first stopped by the fishing pier hoping to see manatees. They were dredging the boat channel next to the pier and it must have scared away the manatees. I didn’t see any here while they were dredging.

I caught this anhinga catching some fish. Above were taken right into the sun.

Then she came around to the other side of the pier and caught what looked like a needlefish. After flipping it around a few times she swallowed it quickly.

Another sighting of a spotted eagle ray. It’s hard to get a good shot of them. They are so big and swim by really quickly, just under the surface.

I made a stop at nearby Folly Farms and was able to find a few tiny flying things in the butterfly garden. There were a lot of monarchs and bees but not much else.

Dark clouds had moved in so I went back over to the fishing pier before heading home. There was a great storm out in the bay right in front of the pier but no lightning. That rain did not make it over to my house. Ugh.

SkyWatch Friday

Standing out in the field

I found a new sunflower farm closer to my home (still almost an hour away though). Up in Spring Hill, an hour north of Tampa, Jimmy MC’s farm has U-pick sunflowers during the spring. I headed up there on the final weekend of the season almost at the end of May. This is not a big farm with activities for little kids. This is just a farm that you can go and pick your own sunflowers. It’s free to get in and $5 for two handfuls of sunflowers. I parked near the barn and walked out to the sunflower field.

They do have a picturesque tub that you can climb in and take pictures.

It was the last weekend of their season but the field was still full of sunflowers. It was hard deciding which ones to pick. So many! I looked for new buds that weren’t drooping yet and covered in bees. I didn’t want to disturb the much needed honey bees.

I was inspecting each one that I was thinking of picking and found this green spider on the back of one. I didn’t want to take him home (last year I brought home a small creme colored spider and put him in the backyard).

They had a lot of cows next to the sunflower field and I was envious of the ones in the back going for a swim. It was a hot morning. Their pond had really shrunk from the drought. Once most of the good flowers were picked they let the cows in the field and eat the remaining sunflowers.

As I walked back to my car I saw this sandhill crane family in the grassy parking area. I had my camera in the car so I pulled it out and snapped a few shots of them feeding. Junior was almost fully grown but still getting food from his parents.

I loved seeing the windmill out in the cow pasture so I stopped and snapped the above with my phone.

A small part of my stash that I brought home.

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A spring morning in late March

I don’t remember ever seeing this green caterpillar. I found it in the butterfly garden at Folly Farms in Safety Harbor in late March. I usually only see monarch or gulf fritillary caterpillars. I had to look through tons of green caterpillar pictures to find it. This is a orange barred sulphur butterfly. I do see them here but have never seen the caterpillar.

So many little things flying around late in March. It had already been warm for a while so everything was blooming and the garden was full of butterflies, bees and other little critters.

There wasn’t many birds around though. A dove and a few bluebirds were all I could find on this morning.

I caught a swallow tail kite diving down behind the trees.

This was interesting. They have installed a wind phone at the farm. Originated in Japan, the phone is not connected but allows a one way conversation with deceased love ones. There’s a chalk board and you can leave notes. I did pick up the phone to make sure there wasn’t a dial tone (or maybe someone else on the other end?).

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Stopping to smell the flowers

I had been having shoulder pain off and on through the summer but by early September it had really been bothering me. I haven’t been using my heavy camera much so I went for walk near the Safety Harbor pier with only my phone.

The fountain in front of the marina had been vandalized but was recently fixed. They caught the kids who did it.

Flowers around the fountain. I’m so use to looking at birds from far away so it’s harder for me to find things close up to take pictures of. There’s so much out there, especially near the water.

SkyWatch Friday

Looking for a breeze

It was a perfect day to head down to St. Pete for a walk and hopefully catch a breeze in mid-August. My first stop was Crescent Lake Park. I was hoping to see hummingbirds at the big firebush but all I got was bees.

I happen to look over near the playground and saw this squirrel trying really hard to get in the unattended bag. A lady saw what was happening and ran over. She had donuts in her bag. I don’t blame the squirrel for trying to get those.

I stumbled on an outdoor dog obedience training class. Since I had my longer lens I was able to watch from pretty far away. All of the dogs seemed pretty chilled.

I left the park and headed over to the yacht basin near downtown for a quick walk before it got crazy hot. 

SkyWatch Friday

The butterfly garden

In early September I went for a walk at Wall Springs Park near Tarpon Springs. I found some mallards swimming around the natural springs area but not many other birds.

The small butterfly garden that’s near the playground was in full bloom, almost overgrown from the summer rains. I keep saying there are less and less butterflies around but I did manage to find a few flying around the bright colored blooms.

“I’m walking on sunshine, yeah!”

There’s something magical about standing in the middle of sunflowers.

There were all types of sunflowers here at Sweetfield Farms in early May. Some had yellow faces and some had black faces. Some had big faces and small petals and some had small faces with long yellow petals. I grabbed a pair of clippers and went out to pick a bunch to take home but it was tough to decide which ones to pick. I ended up with a bunch of different ones.

Most of the faces had bees on them but when you clipped them the bees flew off. If you are really afraid of the bees, you can buy the ones in the barn that are already picked. Either way they were $2 a stem. I really didn’t feel like there were a lot of bees swarming around me though. There are plenty without bees as well.

There were other critters on them as well.

It was a beautiful morning out and I was loaded down as I was walking to the car with my camera, zinnias, sunflowers and a few vegetables I picked.

SkyWatch Friday

So many baby ducks

Bees took over this owl nest box at Largo Nature Preserve. That’s a lot of bees! I don’t think they’ll stay there forever. I think they eventually move on but will they leave a mess behind?

Nanday parakeets high up in a tree. Maybe they are looking for a place to nest?

A young spoonbill taking a break from feeding along the channel.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of May. These were taken in mid-April and were the first baby moorhens I’ve seen this year. You know summer is here when the ponds fill up with these babies.

The ponds are full of water hyacinth.

The baby mallards are just too cute to not stop and take a ton of pictures.

My Corner of the World

Color and turtles in October

Yellow and orange from my trip to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo last month.

The large cactus in the front of the gardens had big blooms on them . The details inside the bloom are amazing. The cactus also had this big pink ball which I assume are the blooms before they open up. Or, maybe they are the seed pod after the bloom dies off?

Little critters. Bees had taken over that bird house.

I found another face in the tree along the boardwalk.

I stopped by and said hello to the resident wood ducks.

After leaving the botanical gardens, I stopped at McGough Park to see if there were any fall migrating birds. I didn’t see many birds but the turtle pond was full of turtles taking a sun nap.

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A hidden gem

I had heard about a small park not too far from my home that had a community vegetable garden and a butterfly garden so I thought I would stop by on the way home from Chesnut Park. As I got out of my car I saw two swallow tail kites cruising right over the park. I thought that was a good sign. One of the kites had what looked like a frog in his talons but he cruised over the trees before I could get a second look.

It was right before lunch and the sun was straight up and hot so there weren’t many butterflies around although the small garden was very pretty.

I saw a juvenile brown thrasher high up in a tree but he was gone in a flash.

A lot of yellow was blooming this morning. It was quiet and hot so I’m thinking I’ll come back when the weather cools off, maybe during fall migration.

Looks like a perfect log to take family pictures or take a break.

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