Wide open space at Myakka State Park

One of the few animals I saw at Myakka River State Park was a deer near the big lake. She was alone and hiding in the shadow.

Closer to the water I could see some black bellied whistling ducks and black necked stilts.

A crow guarding the parking lot.

Myakka Park, just south of Sarasota, is known for having huge gators. And a lot of them although not as many as the Everglades. Timing is everything to see the big ones. They usually come out to sun themselves late in the afternoon. If it’s really hot, they’ll stay in the water most of the day. I was there early in the morning and only saw a few small ones. There is an area in the park that is off limits that has 100’s of them. The “Deep hole” is a 4 mile round trip hike out to where they are hidden but you have to have a permit to hike out there. The rangers give out 30 permits a day and I heard they are all snatched up in the first hour. I keep saying I want to get down there in the winter and hike out the hole but keep putting it off. I think this winter might be the time.

The sun was just coming up over the trees when I headed out on one trail.

This is a huge park with a lot of wide open spaces. I was out on a rare Monday off so there was hardly anyone there.

A pano with my phone of a dried up lake.

SkyWatch Friday

Back on Alligator Alley

Things along the trail including a snack left behind by some bird.

A great blue heron strutting along.

Alligator Alley trail was finally opened after being closed for 2 years. When Hurricane Irma came through in 2017, part of the trail was washed out. The county finally rebuilt the trail and it was great to walk down it after all that time.

The view along the lake.

The marigold were still out in late November, washing the trail in yellow.

SkyWatch Friday

Birds at Lettuce Lake Park

Usual birds at Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa.

A rare bird you only see soaring high in the sky in the summer, two swallow-tail kites were cruising by while I was on top of the observation tower. One looked like he had something in his claws.

It looked like it was part of a duck or maybe a baby bird. These guys snatch baby birds right out of a nest. They eat while they are soaring, mostly dragonflies though.

A cute black bellied whistling duck cruised by as well.

I stopped by the teeny tiny golf ball size hummingbird nest before leaving the park. At first the almost grown baby was sitting alone on the nest. Then mom flew in to feed it.

So many birds….

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Black bellied whistling ducks are a rare sight to see up close. Years ago they would hang out right on the trail and the trees right on the trail would be full of them.  Now you can only hear them whistling off in the distance.

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A great blue heron with a snack.

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The marsh has been overrun with glossy ibis.

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A few Wilson’s Snipes have been seen here. This one was on Alligator Alley Trail.

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It’s always fun to see the little purple clowns (gallinules).

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Green herons have taken over.

Come of the birds on my recent trip to Circle B Bar Reserve.

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The usual suspects.

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Posing great blue heron.

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Reflection of a snowy egret.

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A lone black bellied whistling duck.

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A green heron hiding in the marsh.

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A crow was bothering this pileated woodpecker.

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Limpkin family along the trail.

My last trip to Circle B Bar Reserve in early June. At least for the summer. It’s too hot on those trails. One of the main trails is closed until September due to alligators nesting close to the trail. I’ll wait until fall migration begins in late September or early October before heading over there again.

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Typical and not so typical at Circle B Bar Reserve

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Typical green heron. He was not paying attention to me.

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Not so typical american bittern. They only visit in the winter and are usually really hard to find. Several other people were watching this one already.

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Typical little blue heron with a frog for breakfast.

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Typical blue wing teal. These are common here in the winter.

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They were trying to sleep.

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I think this is a savannah sparrow. Not that typical but not rare.

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The very typical black bellied whistling ducks. Looking cute as ever.

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Coming in for a landing.

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Not typical, my first virginia rail. He was being very allusive hiding in the reeds.

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Not a typical bird but a typical squirrel eating. Look at his little fingers holding that snack.

Things were quiet on this late January walk around Circle B Bar Reserve.

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