I haven’t seen blue-gray gnatcatchers in the backyard in a long time. This was early April. I was sitting outside enjoying the cool weather and this one came down close and was singing away.
I was pretty excited to see indigo buntings in the backyard. Brett and I were watching tv one Sunday afternoon and I look over and see one on the bird bath. I was able to sneak over to the window and snap the first shot before he flew off. Then I went outside and was able to get the 2nd shot of one up in the tree before they both took off.
The lone turkey has still been visiting and taking naps in the backyard. I wonder if she was scoping out places to nest.
I could see a hawk on the other side of the fairway.
The lizards were showing off for the ladies.
I realized that our wall outside had a lot of these caterpillars. They are tussock moth caterpillars. They are known to eat your plants but we didn’t really notice any damage to the few we had in the back.
One morning I saw one of the caterpillars spinning what looked like a web over his body and I ran out and took the 1st picture. Later that day it was completely covered. I counted 16 of these on the back wall.
A few weeks later I saw a few of these on the windows. I don’t think a lot of the cocoons hatched though.
The gardenia bush was full in early April and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them. I just wish the pictures captured the smell.
I was finally back out at Circle B Bar Reserve in late January. I hadn’t been since the middle of December. I missed the trails.
The “hot” bird to get at that time was the male northern harrier (or gray ghost as some people called him). I had gotten some extremely far away pictures in December (pin dots really) and was hoping to get a little closer this time. He still stayed far out in the marsh this trip as well but made a few quick passes closer to the trail. He’s cruising along the marsh looking for food (lizards, etc).
I could see a few hogs out in the marsh as well. I call them Oreos since they have the color pattern of Oreo cookies.
I’m not sure what this was. Some type of insect nest on the bushes?
The usual birds were there: woodstork, night heron, blue gray gnatcatcher, yellow rumped warbler and a pied grebe.
They were spraying some type of chemical to get rid of invasive plants. I hate seeing this. Especially here.
Cute squirrel in the parking lot when I got back to my car.
There’s something magical about being at Circle B Bar Reserve when the sun is coming up. Besides it not being crowded or hot yet, the birds and critters are very active this early in the morning. It was my first time back since April and it felt good to be out on the trails. I usually don’t come during the summer because it is so hot and the main trails are closed due to alligators nesting on them.
Turning around, I could see the moon still up in the sky.
Of course I had to stop and take pictures of my favorite spot before heading down the trails. The last one is with my phone and you can see how big the marsh is on this trail.
The great blue heron was sitting right on the trail. I walked right under him and he didn’t move. I stopped and snapped the 2nd one with my phone so you can see how close he was.
After passing him I turned around to see if he had flown off. Nope, he’s still there watching the sun come up.
A few fly bys. A night heron and a pair of cormorants.
Some of the tiny birds, a common yellowthroat (who looks more like a masked bandit) and some blue gray gnatcatchers.
I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while. I had taken the above in early December.
Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.
This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.
It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.
Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.
I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.
Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk. I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.
Some of the wintering ducks at the wildlife drive include a blue winged teal couple, a female northern shoveler and a grebe.
The coots seemed to be in couples all over the drive.
A glossy ibis in the bur marigolds.
Some of the smaller birds include a flicker and many blue gray gnatcatchers.
I got out of the car and was walking around watching the ducks when this kingfisher flew right by.
Shooting right into the sun, the marsh looked like it had a layer of gold on top. Those tiny black dots were coots which were all over the place. It really looked like winter on my drive in late December with all of the leaves off the trees and bushes here. The wildlife drive is just north of Orlando and is a little hike from my house so I don’t get here often. It’s been worth the drive recently since I was trying to stay off my hip due to hip bursitis at the end of last year.
When you are driving down the road and see an eagle sitting on a pole (and your camera is in the car) you turn around and go back and get a shot. Especially since it was such a beautiful sky. This one was sitting in a short tower behind a gas station on my way to Chesnut Park one morning.
Do we wish we could hang upside down so easily?
A yellow rumped warbler hiding in the bushes.
I’ve been seeing a purple gallinule hanging around the dock lately. This one has a snack in his beak.
This little gnatcatcher was being too cute not to take some shots.
I think this may be a juvenile northern parula. He’s got just a hint of gray on his back.
I don’t see swamp sparrows often.
This gnatcatcher was trying hard to get that bug.
This should not really be happening at the park but this young girl was beside herself when the titmouse flew onto her hand. People come early in the morning and leave seed along the boardwalk rail. It’s usually titmouse, cardinals and squirrels that are eating the seeds.
My second ever rufous hummingbird sighting. This one and the one before were both at Bok Tower Gardens. Rufous hummingbirds are fairly rare around this area. This is only the 2nd time of hearing about one and I was happy to have seen it even briefly. I caught him high up on a tree taking a break. When he went to feed, he would go deep in the bushes or the other side making it impossible to get feeding shots. At one point I could barely see him feeding deep in the firebush.
Ruby throated hummingbirds are pretty common. I caught this male feeding near the carillon tower.
He buzzed off and disappeared. I stood under a pine tree for a long time waiting for him to come back. At one point I looked up and he was sitting right over my head.
Birds with yellow. The top one is an easy one, a yellow throated warbler. The 2nd I think is a red eyed vireo with a bug. The last is a a female common yellowthroat.
An ovenbird and blue gray gnatcatcher.
A usual sight, a harmless black racer crosses the sidewalk in front of me.
A bee house in the garden. Used by mason or other solitary bees, they lay their eggs in the holes.