Up, Up and Away


Great egrets flying by.





It was mid-May and birds were still gathering sticks for nests. All morning long they were flying back and forth from one set of bushes to another.


A sandhill crane flies over the park.



Wood storks were busy adding to their nests.


Cattle egrets were doing the same.

It’s always busy in the mornings at the bird rookery in Gatorland. Wild birds are still coming in to nest over the lake full of alligators. The mangroves were filled with nests in different stages. Some had parents still sleeping on eggs, some had newborn babies, some had almost adult babies still screaming to be feed. Lots of fun activities to take pictures of.

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Flying in to sleep


I found a killdeer across the pond.






Some of the cattle egrets were sporting their bright “breeding” colors. You can see the difference with the younger cattle egrets that have the drab faces and the ones ready to mate with their bright pink and yellow beaks.  Their legs are also bright pink.


An ibis doing a balancing act.

Across the street from the Pinellas county waste plant, there’s a small pond with a mangrove island in it. Before dark, a lot of the birds come here to sleep for the night. I stopped by there recently after work and birds were flying in to spend the night on the little island.

Typical things on a Florida trail.


A typical Florida swamp scene (cattle egret looking at a great egret).


A limpkin posing in the moss.


A Carolina wren stops by.


A cormorant flapping his wings.


Another limpkin in the moss. Looks like he was grabbing moss for his nest.






This guy was just cruising down the trail, not caring that he was heading right for me. He kept getting closer and I finally got up and moved back (was sitting on the trail to take his picture). I don’t want this guy to get too close.  They are cute but still creepy.

All from Circle B Bar Reserve in early February.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

If birds could talk

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“I need to get an agent” said the limpkin who sat there while tons of people were taking his picture.


“I’m going back to sleep” said the grumpy red shoulder hawk.


“I’m not going to do anything interesting. Take my picture just like this lady” said the great blue heron.




‘Yes, we are a dime a dozen” said all of the phoebes.


“Look ma, no hands” said the anhinga climbing up the branch.


“What are you looking at?” said the snowy egret.


“No I’m not going to look at you just so you can take my picture” said the gnatcatcher.



“We’re trying to blend in but I don’t think it’s working” said the great egret to the cattle egret.



“Everyone look up at me” said the rare Harrier Hawk.




“She’d better be bringing home bacon cause I’m tired of bringing all the sticks” said the bald eagle as he headed for the nest.

Lots of birds but not a lot of activity in mid-November. They were all just sitting there, except for the eagles. They were both bringing sticks back to the nest. You could see them flying back and forth over the trail heading to the nest but you can’t see the nest. It’s hidden high up in the trees, facing the lake. In the mornings before 11am, people are lined up on the trail to see the eagles flying back and forth.

The Northern Harrier hawk was a surprise. It was a first time ever seeing one. I had heard there was one flying around earlier but didn’t think I would see it and right before leaving he flew right over my head.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

The side of the road

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After a busy morning of taking pictures in central Florida, I decided to stop and get a soda for the trip home. Next door was a cow pasture and some of the cows were close to the fence. So I did what any city girl would do, got my camera out and snapped a few pictures. They stopped for a few seconds and watched me, then went back to eating grass.

Saturday's Critters

A little bird nooky going on

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It all starts here. The great, snowy and cattle egrets start flirting. The male birds bring a stick to the female birds over and over again until the nest is built.  Then you know the rest. It was a busy day in early April when I was at Gatorland in Orlando. There were already baby birds and lots of nests that had eggs on them. Still more babies to come based on the action going on that morning.

An amazing transformation

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This little bird is all the same bird.  The one you see hanging around the cow pastures. They eat the bugs that the cows stir up when the cows are eating the grass. They have an amazing transformation during mating season. They get bright color beaks, red eyes and pink legs when they are looking for some action as you see in the first 4 pictures.  The bottom 2 pictures I took the same day of cattle egrets that are either done with mating are just getting started. The bottom one still has the pink legs but has lost most of the bright colors in his beak and face. Gatorland was full of cattle egrets in early April. Some were sitting on nests with eggs already. Some were still flirting. They are so much fun to watch. Soon they will all be plain ole white like the one below I took several years ago.


Weekly Top Shot #176

Last trip to Gatorland for 2014


Yummy snack!



This great egret was gulping down the crawfish.


This picture was taken on the 3rd floor of the observation tower. There’s a tall tree right up against the tower. The cormorants and anhingas nest in the upper branches and the snowy egrets nest in the bottom branches. I didn’t see any eggs or babies yet with this couple although the one on the left sleeping could be a juvenile. It’s kind of cool being high up in the trees hanging out with the birds.


A male and female anhinga were either fighting or flirting. Not sure which.


This great egret found a shell in the mud. I’ve only seen these shells on the beach so it’s weird that it was in this lake. I didn’t see him swallow it.


Taking off.


A cattle egret couple were just starting to nest. The one on the left looks grumpy.


They did have a go at it so there should be late eggs coming soon.


Afterwards, they ignored each other.


A male anhinga up in the tree next to the tower.


A very young anhinga that was born months earlier. It hasn’t got any color yet.

These were all taken in late May during my 2nd trip to Gatorland in Orlando. The bird rookery was still full of babies and eggs with a few couples getting a very late start. It was a nice quiet morning with just a few photographers there. Most of the winter crowd had gone. That’s because it was starting to get hot. I got there when the back gate opened at 7:30 am with my early access pass and was gone by 11am. By then all of the birds were napping. That was my last trip until next spring but I did take a ton of pictures.

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

Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention for 

Wood stork babies in north Tampa


Little baby and big baby wood storks.


They were ready for  Mom to feed them.


Getting some shade.


Another nest close by with two babies.


A nest with one baby that’s a little bit older.


The tiniest one there. You could just barely make out the little cotton ball head on the right. Mom was staying close by.


A parent flying in.


Cattle egret families were on the island as well.

I had read for several years that there was a small lake in north Tampa (so north I felt like I was almost driving to Georgia) that had a small island in the middle where wood storks nested each spring. I finally made it up there this past mid-May. The lake has houses on 3 sides so there’s only a small park to view the island from. Unfortunately, it’s a late afternoon shoot. I was there right before lunch and was shooting straight into the sun.  I went ahead and took the above shots since I wasn’t sure when I’d get back up there again. Babies ranged in age from a few days old to almost grown. The island was fairly far away so all of the above are extremely cropped. The island also had a few cattle egret, great egret and anhinga nests. I’m not real happy with the pictures but wood stork babies are pretty rare around here so I was just glad to see them. Next spring I’ll plan ahead and try to get up there at a better time.

High up in the sky – Skywatch Friday


This was the first time I’ve seen hooded mergansers at Circle B Bar Reserve.


Tricolored heron reflection


Wood stork out in the marsh.


Baby great blue heron almost grown up, still on the nest.


Cattle egret fly-by.


White pelicans coming across the lake.


White pelicans flying over my head.


Not quite fully grown eagle flying high up.


An adult eagle flying over my head in circles.

It was a rare beautiful morning in late January. This winter seems to be the year of the icky weekends. I know, it could be worse. I could actually be living up north where it SNOWS so I can’t complain. There’s still hundreds of white pelicans at the park but they usually stay pretty far away, across the lake. You have to catch them flying high overhead.  It was a quiet morning but a perfect morning for a long walk.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday