A hidden gem

I had heard about a small park not too far from my home that had a community vegetable garden and a butterfly garden so I thought I would stop by on the way home from Chesnut Park. As I got out of my car I saw two swallow tail kites cruising right over the park. I thought that was a good sign. One of the kites had what looked like a frog in his talons but he cruised over the trees before I could get a second look.

It was right before lunch and the sun was straight up and hot so there weren’t many butterflies around although the small garden was very pretty.

I saw a juvenile brown thrasher high up in a tree but he was gone in a flash.

A lot of yellow was blooming this morning. It was quiet and hot so I’m thinking I’ll come back when the weather cools off, maybe during fall migration.

Looks like a perfect log to take family pictures or take a break.

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Saturday morning at the botanical gardens

Pretty things at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo at the end of May.

Little critters.

Squirrels were busy eating fruit all over the gardens.

The squirrel in the two bottom pictures were eating the above. A lychee tree.  My husband grew up eating his Mom’s homemade lychee ice cream but you don’t really see it here in central Florida.

A very young titmouse was following Mom around. She was trying to get him to feed himself but he just kept yelling for her to feed him.

A green heron creeping along a branch in the parking lot.

The sun coming through a papaya tree.

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All of the critters were feasting.

The usual things to see at Possum Branch Preserve.

Alligators are also usual things there. That alligator in the first one thinks that grass is hiding him. That alligator coming up behind him knew he was there.

There were no spring migrating birds feeding in the mulberry tree but the woodpecker was getting his fill.

This female red winged blackbird had 2 snacks, a caterpillar and a dragonfly.

Another usual suspect here is a brown thrasher.

Not a usual suspect in the mulberry trees right before I left.  A small flock of cedar waxwings landed on the back side of the tree. I’ve seen them here once before several years ago. It was hard to get shots of them on the back side of the tree that backs up to the pond full of gators. Standing under the tree I could see several at the top with their faces covered in berry juice. They are such an elegant bird, always so clean. I felt like I should have offered them a napkin but I left them to their mulberry buffet.

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Fun things at Lake Mirror

Color at Hollis Garden in Lakeland in early May.

I thought these lily pad were cool holding the water in their leaves. Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland was full of them.

There’s a reason they are called “common” moorhens. They are everywhere and they have tons of babies starting in the spring.

I noticed this baby grackle screaming at his Mom for food. He was hopping around behind Mom but I think she was trying to get him to feed himself. He was old enough to be able to do that.

Across Lake Morton a new building was going up. The flags would have looked very magestic if they weren’t so worn out.

I don’t alway stop at Lake Mirror after a walk at Circle B Bar Reserve but this morning in early May I only did a short walk at Circle B and then went over to Lake Mirror. I was in the mood for some spring flowers that were in bloom at Hollis Gardens which sits right on the lake.

SkyWatch Friday

A late afternoon walk

At the end of April I went out late in the day instead of the morning. I had something I had to do in the morning but I didn’t want to miss a walk outside. I headed to Largo Nature Preserve not expecting much since it was hot. I caught the screech owl peeking out of her hole. I knew this was the tree that had a nest but hadn’t seen anything until now. I didn’t know at this point if there were babies. I waited a while but she just sat there staring off so I kept on going.

I did a quick walk along the boardwalk before heading out. It was interesting to see the spotted sandpiper on the boardwalk rail. Those guys are usually skittish and only here in the winter. Lots of dragonflies around and I saw a moorhen sitting on a nest.

A quick stop at Possum Branch on the way home. I had the entire preserve to myself.

Green herons were everywhere.

A black and yellow flash went by me and when it landed on a branch I realized it was a bobolink. It was with another male and a female that landed farther down the canal. They stopped for a few seconds before taking off again. It was the only bobolink I saw this season.

Little critters in the weeds.

The trails around the ponds were covered in this mimosa ground cover. The purple flowers were covered in moths and bees. You could see the tiny path where people had been walking on it. Quickly they will die off and the trail will get mowed again but the blanket of purple was really pretty this afternoon.

These yellow and white flowers are weeds and they were also everywhere.

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A two park morning

A bluebird greated me when I got to Felts Preserve in late April. I was still on my quest to look for migrating birds so I thought I would make the drive down south of St. Pete to see if any were here. There are bluebird nesting boxes around the preserve so I wasn’t surprised to see one but I didn’t see any young ones.

There were several great crested flycatchers hanging out on the blue martin bird houses. I wonder if the flycatchers use them. I didn’t see them going in the houses.

There were a lot of indigo buntings hanging around the feeders. Other than the buntings, this spring migration was turning into a bust.

After I left Felts Preserve, I stopped by Sawgrass Lake Park on the way to see if there were any migrating birds there. None there as well but I did catch some tiny flying critters around the small butterfly garden.

Out and about

“Why did the butterfly cross the road???”

The glossy ibis has been hanging around Possum Branch Preserve for a while now.

The green heron was creeping around under the bushes.

I found the bluebird family again. One of the young ones was popping his head out of the nest. He’s flying around now so I’m not sure if the parents are still feeding him.

Oh the faces we see in a Florida pond!

I stopped by the old Kapok Tree in mid-March. It still had a lot of blooms on the tree but most of them were on the ground. I keep forgetting to go by here and catch it in full bloom. Back when I was a toddler there was a famous restaurant here called the Kapok Tree Inn. It was an old ornate building with lots of different rooms. We would come here to eat when we came to Clearwater to visit my parents. It closed in 1991 but the building is still here and is a music store. It still looks the same inside.

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Back at Bok

Driving into Bok Tower Gardens you wind through orange groves and you can see the top of the carillon hovering over the trees. At this point the trees were heavy with ripe oranges in early April. I wish it was closer to my home. It’s an hour and a half away but worth the drive every once in a while. The worst part is putting your life on the line driving across crazy I4 for about 45 minutes but after that it’s a nice back road drive through small towns. I like seeing the cows as I pass by and I keep an eye out for eagles cruising in the skies.

This huge beautiful arrangement greats you at the entrance of the visitor’s center.

Lots of yellow and orange blooming when I was there. I love the orange sunflowers.

Little critters were flying around.

I found a lot of amaryllis blooming near the back exit by the parking lot. It made me think it was still Christmas but the heat reminded me it was not.

This was an interesting cactus. I don’t remember ever seeing these guys sprout like this. It looked like a big asparagus growing out of it.

I was hoping for a few spring migrates at the bird feeder by the pond but all I got was catbirds and cardinals.

While sitting on the bench waiting for birds at the feeder, this guy walked right up to me. Maybe people feed them here? He looked at me for a few seconds and then went to the ground under the feeder and started digging around for seeds. I think we had a connection!

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Bok Tower Gardens

Even though chipping sparrows are not rare, I don’t see them often.

I found a female ruby throated hummingbird feeding in the english garden at Bok Tower Gardens in late February. It almost looks like she was molting around her face.

I was standing on the path for a while under a pine tree waiting for the hummingbird to come back to the flowers and someone walked by and said “Look at the owl over your head”. I didn’t even notice him when I walked up earlier. I’m glad he didn’t poop on me!

Butterflies and flowers in the garden near the bell tower.

The door to the courtyard at the historic house on the grounds. The Pinewood Estate is closed for now but you can still walk around the grounds.

I found the Fairy Garden on this visit. I usually don’t venture into the children’s garden there but it was a quiet morning so I wandered in to see if there were any good birds back there. I loved the big oversize nest and the little houses made from nature. It’s so creative.

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Great old trees

I had a quick walk at my local pond in early February. It was a quiet morning. Just me and the anhinga watching me take a picture of her.

The glossy ibis was still there.  Maybe they’ll stay permanently.

A teeny critter flying around the clovers.

I stopped by another park close by to check on the owls. Mom was half asleep and there was no sign of babies. I had heard there were two but both were sleeping far down in the nest all morning (later there 3 babies so stay tuned for baby owl shots).

This squirrel had a mouthful as he was running across the parking lot.

The big oak tree where the owls nest. We had heard from a ranger that they were taking this tree down later this year. They say it’s getting rotten inside and could fall on a car or worse a person. Several trees nearby have come down in bad storms. It still looked solid to us. Everyone was freaking out and talking about signing a petition to keep the tree up but if it’s dangerous, it’s coming down. The ranger said the owls will find another tree.

The view near the parking area.  There are a lot of great trees in this park.

One of my favorite trees in the park. It’s cool to see the limbs growing along the ground. The first shot is a pano taken with my phone.

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