There are some great benches here at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Right in front of this huge milkweed bush. The bush was covered in monarch caterpillars in mid-March. I sat for a while waiting for butterflies to come by but there wasn’t many flying around this morning.
This squirrel came over and sat near me and started eating something. He was the only interesting thing there so I left and headed over to McGough Park.
I couldn’t find any birds in the area around the turtle ponds and the turtles were already snoozing so I didn’t stay too long here either. I figured at this point I was close to the beach so I decided on a quick stop at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.
The injured pelicans were doing their morning flaps or taking a bath.
I could barely make out the baby great egrets high up in the trees over the exhibits. They had long outgrown the tiny nests they were growing up in but you could still see their pin feathers when they flapped their wings so they were not quite ready to start flying yet.
NIght herons were still sitting on nests although there was a lot of baby ones (the last one in brown and white with orange eyes) all over the sanctuary.
This night heron was showing the way to the shade garden although it’s really just a lot of overgrown mangroves.
It was early December and I was ready for another morning out with my camera. My first stop was the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. I ended up only taking a few pictures while I was there. I was busy looking for birds of which I found none.
I left the gardens and stopped at nearby McGough Park to see if there were any birds there. No birds but a lot of other critters. The bees have taken over this owl nest box.
A few of the turtles in the turtle pond.
Some of the permanently injured animals that live here (the nature center here houses animals that cannot be released back into the wild). Both owls had injured eyes.
On the way home I stopped at the Largo Nature Preserve and did find a few birds here. You can usually find limpkins along the boardwalk here and they are use to people walking by. This one was sitting on the railing and made no attempt to move as I walked by. This is not cropped.
Not surprised to find the usual birds here. A blue gray gnatcatcher, a black and white warbler and a yellow rumped warbler.
Another usual bird, a pine warbler, was pigging out on caterpillars. He ate several while I was snapping and I was lucky enough for him to show them to me.
I think this lizard was flirting with me at the Botanical Gardens in Largo.
Tiny critters were buzzing around the butterfly garden.
A few of the butterflies in the butterfly garden. I was expecting to see many more than this. I didn’t see any yellow ones. I keep saying I am seeing less and less of them every year. I wonder if it’s all of the spraying that is being done. Spraying for invasive plants, spraying for mosquitoes.
A soft shell turtle swims by under the bridge. I was only able to get his funny shaped head in the shot. He almost blends in with the brown lily pad leaves.
A young moorhen walking around the spatterdock lilies in the pond.
This beautiful hanging orchid plant was blooming in mid-April at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
I love these spikey pods that bust open and are filled with fuzz. I still can’t figure out what these are.
A butterfly had landed high up on this silk floss tree.
Tiny critters in the butterfly garden. There were a lot of monarch caterpillars on the big milkweed plant. I think the bottom caterpillar is an orange barred sulfur butterfly.
Usual birds here are the dove and the brown thrasher.
And of course I can’t walk by and not take pictures of the wood ducks floating around. This time I also saw some on the fence.
A crow flying by with an egg in his beak. Probably a turtle egg.
I stopped at nearby Largo Nature Preserve after leaving the botanical gardens and it was pretty quiet there. I did notice some heads sticking out of holes in some dead trees near the parking lot. A screech owl had been nesting in one. I never made it back here to see if there were any babies. A red bellied woodpecker was checking out the other hole. Probably just started to work on a nest.
Tussock moth caterpillars are fairly common in late March but I’ve never seen this many at one place. I usually only see one or two. At the Florida Botanical Gardens the boardwalk was full of them. I tried to keep my distance as I was taking pictures of them. While they are pretty and cool looking, they can leave a nasty rash if you brush up against them. I kept checking to make sure one hadn’t fallen on my backpack.
They turn into these coccoons before turning into a moth. The leaves on the palm trees around the boardwalk were full of these as well.
White peacock butterflies are very common but I think they are pretty.
After leaving the botanical gardens I headed to nearby McGough Nature Park to look for migrating birds. I first stopped at the turtle pond and saw two turtles climbing a tree. They got about half way up before heading back down.
I also watched this raccoon climb up a tree and then head back down.
The bottle brush trees near the entrance were in full bloom. I stopped to snap this butterfly and then heard the faint sound of hummingbirds whizzing by.
There were 4 hummingbirds feeding on the two trees. They were only feeding on the back side that hangs over the lake so it was a challenge to get them feeding. They would rest high up on the front and then go back to feed.
After standing there for an hour I only got the above two shots of them feeding. It was very frustrating to watch them fly to the back of the trees and disappear.
They have several resident injured birds that live on the property, all taken care of by volunteers. This barred owl was watching his person talking to him. He seemed to understand every word she was saying. They were sitting outside in front of the turtle pond.
It was still a little early for migrating birds so I didn’t find any of them.
Two of the big trees at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
Some of the fun decorations I saw.
I thought these were cool and maybe I could do them myself. I could use some of the pine cones in my backyard and add some ribbons and some of my balls since I didn’t put up a tree this year but here it is, a few days before and I still have done it. Maybe next year.
They have some cute critters that are wearing fun holiday outfits.
I walked over to Heritage Village next door but they had minimal decorations on the historic houses.
I barely made it to see the silk floss blooms this year. The silk floss trees at the Florida Botanical Gardens bloom in late September and I didn’t make it there until mid-October but there were still a lot of pink blooms on the tree in the parking lot. I was taking some close up shots of the beautiful pink flowers on the low hanging branches when I saw a flash of green go by.
I heard the loud squawking near the top of the tree and realized that several monk parakeets had landed in the tree.
They spent quite a while eating parts of the flower. They seemed to be eating the bottom part of it where the seed is but they were also playing around with the pink petals. It was so much fun to watch them eating for a while. It was a challenge to get a clear shot since there were so many branches in the way and the light was terrible.
Stepping back and taking this shot with my phone, you can see how big the tree is but this one is much smaller than the one behind the visitor’s centor. There were only blooms left on the bottom half of the tree.
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.