The same ole things

The welcoming committee at the entrance to Circle B Bar Reserve wasn’t doing a very good job. They were too busy stuffing their faces. Pigs.

It was a generally quiet morning for birds in late December. A sparrow, a downy woodpecker (making that landing), an anhinga posing and the usual black bellied whistling ducks.

Across the lake anhingas were hanging out in a bald cypress tree. The tree was losing it’s leaves for the winter, although this one looks like it’s been broken off at the top.

Far across the marsh I could see a northern harrier and an eagle. After standing there on the trail for an hour hoping either would get closer, I finally gave up and headed home for lunch.

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Foggy and yellow

I love going to Circle B Bar Reserve early in the morning when it’s foggy (as long as it burns off quickly). It makes the reserve look different than other days. You can see all of the spider webs across the marsh and it makes you realize just how many spiders there are out there.

Black bellied whistling ducks flying out across the marsh.

The bur marigolds were blooming in mid-November and the marsh was a blanket of yellow.

A few of the little critters flying around.

It was a quiet day for birds, except for some of the usuals including purple gallinules and swamp sparrows.

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Early November walk

It was a beautiful morning for a walk at Circle B Bar Reserve in early November.

A pretty mushroom on the trail. I rarely see them with color.

Critters on branches include a black bellied whistling duck, a tricolored heron and an anhinga that looks like she’s going through a full moult.

The whistlers have been regulars along the trail during the winter.

I thought this juvenile night heron was sleeping but he popped his head up after a few  seconds. That pattern on his wings is very cool and goes well with his bright orange eyes.

Far across the lake I could see both eagles sitting high up in a cypress tree.

I saw the crowd as I was walking down the trail and realized they were watching a tiny alligator cross the trail. He looked so tiny compared to the big ones along the trail. It was almost comical to watch him cross.

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Early morning at Lettuce Lake Park

The lake was low in early June. The summer rains weren’t in full swing yet. The birds above were standing knee deep and they were pretty far out in the lake.

A few spoonbills were feeding close to the boardwalk.

Other birds along the boardwalk were storks and a tricolored heron, posing on a snag.

I saw this northern parula singing his heart out.

A very young titmouse.

Black bellied whistling ducks were cruising by the overlook tower and landing in the trees. They kept hopping from tree to tree, calling out to each other. I saw them when I first got to the park and was on the boardwalk. They were gone 20 minutes later so timing is everything.

My first robber fly sighting. What a cool bug. Although I probably would have freaked out at first if he flew on me. I saw him land on this branch and was wondering what it was.

Views from the boardwalk, not so early in the morning. Although I was there right when it opened at 8am and before there were lots of people on the boardwalk. It was so hot. I can’t image being out here after 11am in June.

SkyWatch Friday

Spring migration was a bust

McGough Park in Largo is another spring migration hot spot so I stopped there in late April but all I got was turtles. After walking around for an hour and seeing very few birds I left and headed to Largo Nature Preserve.

Not many migrating birds here either but lots of other stuff. I thought the bottom shot was just a weird looking butterfly but then realized it was two butterflies. Not sure if they were mating or feeding on something but they stayed there for a while.

I caught this osprey cruising by me with a really big stick heading to a nest. What is that saying? “Speak softely and carry a big stick”. This is more like “Fly high and carry a big stick”.

A tricolored heron creeping around in the muck.

A big family and almost grown babies in the bottom shot.

This was the first time I’ve seen black bellied whistiling ducks here, much less any where in Pinellas county so I was surprised. They were on the golf course across the canal.

This lone spoonbill was busy feeding and wandering around looking for the best spot.

As I was walking the path something blue whizzed by. Wait, what was that? Finally, a migrating bird. It was a blue grosbeak and when I cropped this shot up I realized there was an immature orchard oriole with him (the yellow one on the right). The oriole took off and I wasn’t able to find him again.

The blue grosbeak had a lady friend with him (the brown one on the top) and they stayed in the area for a few minutes before taking off across the park.

This guy sleeps under the boardwalk. I took this with my phone but I was on the boardwalk at the time.

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I thought this was a new bird

No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one.  I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it.  All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.

The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.

A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.

Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.

A little blue heron found a worm in the water.

Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.

He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).

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The moon was still up

It was a beautiful morning in late January. The sun hadn’t come up over the trees yet and you could still see the moon across the marsh. It was so quiet and only a few other people farther up on the trail. The black bellied whistling ducks were flying back and forth across the trail, heading far off down the marsh. I took a few deep breaths and was so glad I had set my alarm to get here earlier than I usually do.

As I walked down the trail, birds and ducks were constantly flying overhead.

You could still see the cobwebs along the edge of the trail.

Heading down Marsh Rabbit Run, I heard them calling as they started flying towards me and was able to catch the sandhill cranes flying by.

The marsh was all brown from the cold but the sky was bright blue.

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Whistle while you work (or play)

I spent some time at Circle B Bar Reserve watching the black bellied whistling ducks in late November. Just sitting on the trail for a while watching them go about their day. There were hundreds of them out in the marsh and they were very loud. Talking to each other, flying in and out. I love hearing the sound of their whistles (almost like a wheezing) as they moved about. I wonder what they are saying. “I see a hawk, everybody run.” or “You’re in my spot.” or “The bugs are better over here.” or “Mom, can I go play with Junior’s family?”. The ones with the gray beaks are juveniles.

On the other side of the trail was the lake with the cypress trees in the middle.

A warm walk in January at Circle B Bar Reserve

Birds flying high.

Black bellied whistling ducks hanging low in the grass, trying to avoid the haws and eagles flying overhead.

A blue headed vireo being cute.

An osprey was sitting on a branch that crossed over the trail. I was trying to make sure he didn’t poop on me while I was trying to take his picture. I’m  not sure what type of fish that was but it had a red tint to it.

 A cooper’s hawk hiding in the bushes across the canal.

Butterflies along the trail in January.

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