Nothing but skeeters at Honeymoon Island in December

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And this eastern towhee. I don’t see these very often.

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Catbirds are very common here.

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It’s common to see a kestrel high up in a tree.

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The eagle is on the nest. I’ve heard that the rangers have reported there are eggs. I could just barely see her head sticking up. I did not see the other parent that morning.

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A downy woodpecker hanging around.

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I saw this juvenile bald eagle way out in the lagoon across from the nature center. The tide was very low and the oyster beds were exposed.

It’s not fun to go on a hike in early December and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had two coats of bug repellant on with high DEET content. I still came home with 15 bug bites. They were biting my hands, my ears, my face. I stopped and sprayed my hair since they were dive bombing my head. Usually if I keep moving they don’t bother me too much but they were chasing after me as I walked very quickly down the trail. We need a good cold spell to get rid of these guys (like days with a high under 50).  It was 85 degrees.

SkyWatch Friday

Still looks like Spring here

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An upside down black and white warbler.

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At first I thought this was a palm warbler but when I cropped it up I noticed it was more yellow so I’m not sure what this is.

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A yellow throated warbler peaking out.

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Catbirds are everywhere now.

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I was taking pictures of the waterfall and noticed a bunch of worms. Yuk.

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Still looks like spring at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.

SkyWatch Friday

A squirrel and a frog

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Not sure what this warbler is. Too pale to be a yellow warbler. Could be a first year of some type? No real markings on it.

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It was the only warbler I saw that morning at the end of September.

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The catbirds are back for the winter. I’ve been seeing them everywhere in the last 2 weeks.

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The most exciting thing I saw. A squirrel eating a pine cone.

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Looks like he’s eating corn on the cob the way that he’s holding that pine cone.

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This flew very high up over my head. Someone yelled out that is was a peregrine falcon. If so, it’s a first sighting for me (or at least a blurry one from far away).

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Before leaving the park I headed to the bathroom. I’m usually pretty good about looking around for snakes or spiders in park restrooms. Don’t want to get bit on the bottom. I didn’t even notice this guy until I turned around to flush. Of course I pulled out my phone and took the above picture.

It was a beautiful morning but a little disappointing in the way of birds. If the highlight is a squirrel and frog, it’s a slow morning. But, the weather was perfect and I got a good walk in.

Linking to Saturday’s critters

Flappers and jumpers at the botanical gardens

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This bluebird was singing pretty loud on a light post.

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I don’t know what this is. It flew onto the same post as the bluebird above. At first I thought it was a juvenile bluebird but that beak looks different. Any ideas? Cobb?

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My first “male” goldfinch.

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Wet robin with a berry in his beak.

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Catbird on a chain.

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House sparrows hanging out on a nest box.

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Upclose with a frog.

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Cool frog in one of the fountains.

Just a few critters I saw on my walk around the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The bluebird was a plus since I rarely see them in central Florida.

Check out more pictures at Our World Tuesday Our World Tuesday Graphic

Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention for

Rainbow of birds for spring migration

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I think the indigo bunting was my favorite bird of the day. Last spring I could not get a decent picture of him. When I first got the woods I saw a flash of blue and didn’t see him again for a while. Later, while standing in front of the fountain talking to some other birders, he landed right on the base of the fountain. He bounced around for at least 10 minutes from branch to fountain.

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I totally blew this shot out. I had been taking pictures of birds deep in the bushes early in the morning and had my ISO too high. When I drove over to the other section of woods, as soon as I got out of the car I saw the scarlet tanager in the tree and immediately started snapping. Then I realized he was in full sun and I hadn’t lowered my ISO. A second later he flew off.  So the shot overall is too bright but I’m just glad I got him.

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This one I took right into the sun and then had to blow out to get the details. I think this is another scarlet tanager but we had heard there were summers around and I was hoping it was a summer instead. I can’t really see his wings in this picture to tell. Any experts have an opinion?

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Later in the morning, when I came back to the mulberry bushes, they were full of orchard orioles. I only saw males while I was there. They were all busy eating the berries.

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Another one with berries pieces in his beak.

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Not a good picture but it was the only one I got of an american redstart.

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Is this a gray kingbird or an eastern kingbird? People were calling it both. All About Birds does not even show a gray kingbird in their list, only the eastern. He was flying back and forth between the mulberry bushes with some lunch left on his beak.

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My first red eyed vireo.

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I thought this was a red eyed vireo at first. I’m thinking it’s the same bird as the picture before it and that I just couldn’t see it’s red eye. It also looks like a female redstart.

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The very common gray catbird. The mulberry bushes were full of them. This one had red all over his face from eating the berries. What a feast.

The mulberry bushes at the trails have signs posted saying “Do not pick the fruit.” Just in case a tourist wanted to have a snack and wipe out an entire bush. The birds migrating through in spring count on these bushes for fuel to get them home up north. They are exhausted and hungry when they stop by Fort Desoto for a rest. The bushes were full of birds in early April. They were all busy eating and most birds had a little berry juice stained on their beaks and faces. Most of these pictures were taken standing in front of the big mulberry bushes or at the water fountain so I didn’t have to travel far. Just stand in one place and have patience (which I don’t have a lot of).

Check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention for

A few minutes with a catbird

I’m walking through the gardens at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in late October. I hear a catbird in the bushes and stop. Looking up, I see this staring back at me. He didn’t fly off but stayed very still.

I backed up a few feet and was standing under a tree keeping very still. I kept watching him and after a few seconds he looks over at the berries.

He looks back over at me and guesses I’m not a threat.

And he takes a bite! He looks over at me. Not sure if he thinks I’m going to steal his berry or he wants me to take a picture.

He freezes for a few seconds, looking right at me.

He flips the berry into his mouth and down it goes.

I watched him picking off the berries for a few minutes and then left him in peace. I think those are beauty berries but I’ve never seen them in blue before.