“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

“Farm livin is the life for me”

Every year I can’t wait to visit Sweetfield Farms in mid-May (although I missed 2020 for obvious reasons). Besides the sunflower fields, the farm has a lot of animals and activities going on during their festival.

They have rows of zinnias in all of the colors. You can pick them for $1 and I brought home a handful of them.

The one thing I noticed was there was a lot less butterflies here than last year. Maybe it was timing. Or lack of rain or too many pesticides? I was 2 weeks earlier than I went last year.

I’m not sure what these are but they were growing in the vegetable garden.

I know these yellow flowers are zucchinis. You could pick these as well and I took home a big one to saute in my spaghetti sauce.

I was watching the horses at the farm next door run around.

It’s always fun to feed the goats.

Just a boy and his turkey! He brought out some of the turkeys for people to pet. They were friendly although they don’t look like it.

But the main reason to come here is the sunflowers. I took a ton of pictures so more on those later.

SkyWatch Friday

Also linking to Your Moment Blog Hop.

Spring in central Florida

I love Bok Tower Gardens in the spring. It’s the only place I’ve seen orange sunflowers.

The pitcher plants are really cool as well.

Lots of things were blooming when I was there in late April. I just wish it was closer. It’s now almost 2 hours away, though worth the trip. I usually make several stops on the way home at other parks but it’s too hot to do that in the summer. 

Butterflies were everywhere but I mostly saw monarchs.

The birds were not plentiful but I did see some redstarts and great crested flycatchers.

And now I know why they call it a “cottontail” bunny.

Inspire Me Monday

Little critters at the botanical gardens

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.

A quiet morning out.

It was a gorgeous morning to be out on the beach in early April.

Far out in the water I could see a willet with a snack.

Terns were cruising by.

Laughing gulls were pairing up.

The rare kittiwake was still on the pier, a week later than when we first found him.

I still kept seeing the same warblers on the trails, a hooded and a black and white. I kept telling myself it was still early for migration here.

After a quiet morning at Fort Desoto Park I headed home but not before stopping by Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk. Two red shoulder hawks were sitting on the big dead snag outside of the preserve. I guess the hawks are pairing up as well.

A green heron trying to hide in the marsh.

It was pretty quiet at this park as well. I started taking pictures of butterflies since they are starting to be more plentiful. At least I got a good walk in before heading home for lunch.

Inspire Me Monday

All kinds of critters.

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.

Around town

My sister from St. Louis came to visit for a week in February. We did a lot of tourist things and one of them was visiting Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. The botanical gardens, located near downtown, is over 100 years old. I think it had been at least 30 years since my sister had been and a few years for me. There’s a lot of old tall trees here including that beautiful rainbow eucalyptus tree in the bottom shot.

Watching the small flock of flamingos.

I only saw a few butterflies since it was still a little chilly.

One of the small moss covered waterfalls (I took this with my phone).

The bougainvillea bush wall was in full bloom and it was a beautiful to see how it had been growing for years.

Some of the miniature ponds.

The next day were in downtown Tampa for lunch and found these cool statues. I think this was once a forgotten industrial area and is now a booming area with new apartments and restaurants.

Fun morning at the farm.

I hadn’t been to Horsepower For Kids (sanctuary/farm) in a long time so I stopped by for a visit at the end of December. All of the baby geese that had grown up in early 2020 were still there making the duck pond a busy place.

They had 2 new canadian geese at the pond. They swam close to the dock and I noticed they both had angel wings. Angel wings is a nutritional deficiency caused by improper diet. It means someone was feeding these geese too much bread when they were young and their wings didn’t grow properly. It can keep them from flying well and that’s probably why they are living here now. At least they have a great home to live in now. That’s why it’s so important not to feed the wildlife bread.

It’s fun seeing all of the different crazy “fowl” running around here.

Some of the other residents.

I was admiring this salad. These guys eat better than I do.

Butterflies are seen all year long here.

Is if fall yet?!?

The usual birds can be found on the boardwalk at Largo Nature Preserve. They are acclimated to people being around and the limpkin didn’t even fly off as I walked by.

This snowy egret looks like he is walking on water. He’s actually half skipping and half flying along the surface looking for bugs or fish in the water.

I had forgotten that northern shovelers hang out here in the winter although I rarely see males here. This time there were several males with their dark green faces.

Other critters include a butterfly and an otter that came out of the water far down the canal.

I stopped by Kapok Park on the way home to see if the cypress trees had turned orange. The small lake there is surrounded by them and can be quite a sight when they turn colors but this year they were mostly brown and had lost a lot of leaves already. Maybe it was due to the lack of rain we’ve had this fall. There was a hint of orange so it did feel a tiny bit like fall, even if it was 85 degrees in late November.

My Corner of the World

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.

Our World Tuesday Graphic