In late May I spent a Saturday morning sitting on the back deck behind the Chinsegut Conservation Center. I wasn’t expecting to see many different birds but was hoping a few might still be migrating through. House finches are common here during migration.
I got a quick glimpse of an Eastern towhee.
All the usual birds that I could have seen in my backyard were there. Bluebirds, chickadees and downy woodpeckers were plentiful.
Here’s something I don’t see anywhere near where I live but I always see them here, a red headed woodpecker.
I was packing up to leave and I saw these out of the corner of my eye. A pair of Northern bobwhites came cruising through the back deck area. They stopped by the tiny pond for a few seconds and then headed into the bushes.
They were really skittish and disappeared quickly.
The view heading out on the trails. I didn’t walk too far this particular morning since my foot was still bothering me. It was nice to come and sit out on the deck for a while and watch all of the wildlife come through.
It was early May and I was heading up to the Chinsegut Conservation Center to see if there were any migrating birds. I wasn’t sure if I would see sandhill cranes there. I hadn’t seen any there since early 2022. I was sitting quietly on the bench behind the nature center, waiting for birds to come to the feeders and this family came cruising through the area. They slowly walked around looking for bugs to eat. It was fun watching the two young ones acting like toddlers.
They were not shy and walked really close to me. I pulled out my phone and snapped the above.
I left the nature center and was heading back home on a back road when I saw more sandhill cranes out in a cow pasture. I pulled over and snapped a few shots of them and realized they were eating bugs off the cow poop. Yum!
I had heard there was a haunted house in nearby Brooksville so I made a quick stop. The May-Stringer house is said to be the most haunted house in Florida. You can read all about the house here. The house was built in 1855 and went through many owners before it was sold to the Hernando Historical Association in 1980. It was beautiful on the outside and they were closed the day I was there so maybe I’ll get back here and take a tour.
There is an old grave on the backside of the house.
The Saxon Manor house is another old historic home that was built in 1877. It’s now a wedding/event venue. There’s a lot of great old houses in Brooksville. I’m going to try and get back up here in the winter and do a tour of the old houses.
I headed up north to Chinsegut Wildlife Area, north of Tampa, in late March. They have a great deck on the back of the nature center with lots of bird feeders off the deck. I was able to catch a few red headed woodpeckers on the way to the deck. The woods here are full of them and I usually see them when I visit.
The first birds I saw high up in the trees were these pale yellow ones. As I zoomed in on them I realized they were goldfinches.
I sat really still for a while and they came down to the feeders. I get one or two at my feeder at home in the winter but this was the most I had seen at one time.
I was hoping to see some different birds than the ones I already get in my backyard. Spring migration was just starting but the ones here were all of the usual wintering birds. There were lots of pine warblers, chipping sparrows, bluebirds, chickadees, titmouse and house sparrows.
A fuzzy caterpillar on the wall next to my seat.
And, they have tons of squirrels being cute, just like back home.
It was a beautiful morning and nice to sit out on that back deck and watch all of the usual birds flying in and out. Another trip in late April is in the plan.
I was heading up to Chinsegut Wildlife area in mid-March on a sunny cool morning. I got there early and decided to drive a lap around the nearby McKethan Lake recreation area. It’s a small park with a nice drive that runs around the lake and I didn’t think I would see much wildlife but I was just enjoying the quiet morning. I have heard this park gets pretty packed in the summer.
The sun had just come up over the trees and there was mist lingering over the lake.
The water level was really low due to the drought we have been having.
I found this cute bridge that takes you over to the picnic area.
There was only a few other people here this early in the morning.
I had to stop and get some shots of the goats near the road on the way back.
The welcoming committee at Chinsegut Wildlife Area. This is the 3rd time I’ve seen these sandhill cranes hanging around the nature center. One is a juvenile and didn’t quite have the red on his face this past summer. It’s great to see the family is still together. I’m assuming they nest somewhere on the lake here.
Later when I was leaving they were hanging around the parking area and I snapped this with my phone.
I’m sure these are some type of weed but they were really pretty along the trail.
It was foggy when I first got there but wore off as the sun got higher.
The one that got away. I was walking down the back trail at Chinsegut Wildlife area and I hear a noise in the woods. Several deer were cutting across the trail way ahead of me and I just caught this buck peeking back at me before he took off into the woods.
I love coming here and seeing all of the red headed woodpeckers. They are everywhere here. And, this spring I AM going to get back up here to look for some woodpecker nests.
Another amazing thing about this place is that I was standing in one spot on the trail near the nature center and saw 4 different species of woodpeckers. Without moving I was able to get pictures of red heads and then I saw a downy, a red bellied and then a pileated. They were all hanging around the same area at the same time.
Of course I saw tons of pine warblers.
I did see an indigo bunting (either a female or immature male) at the feeder at the nature center.
My first common garter snake sighting. They are harmless and he was warming up in the sunny spot in the grass. I quickly shot this and kept going.
It was starting to look like fall in late December.
I left the house in the dark in early October, heading north to Chinsegut Wildlife trail. It’s only an hour away but feels like a completely different place. I made some quick stops along the way, taking shots of the light coming up over the trees and through the fog.
Right before the trail I saw this old building. At first I thought it was a house but it might have been some type of small factory or type of barn. There were trees growing in the middle of the building. I had to stop and get a shot of it. As I was taking some pictures with my phone, some crows flew out of the building. I thought “Is it Halloween already?”
When I got to the conservation center to park the sun was just coming up. I hadn’t been out for a long walk in a while and it felt good to be out in the woods.
Due to a lot of recent rain, things were pretty swampy. I had on a lot of bug spray so I was able to linger a while and listen to the swamp sounds.
It looked a little like fall with a few red leaves but I would suspect that they are really from the trees being so flooded for a while.
I found a sandhill crane family near the parking area and junior was almost grown up. He didn’t quite have a full red head yet though. They walked around for a while, picking off some bird seed in the ground feeder and then eventually headed into the woods.
The bluebirds must nest here at Chinsegut Wildlife Park since there were some very young ones here the morning I visited in mid-May. The 2nd one looks like a juvenile. There were several behind the ranger’s office so I’m thinking next year I need to go earlier and keep an eye out.
It must have also been chickadee day because there were tons of them along the trail. I counted 10 at one point. Not a wide variety of birds here but there were a lot of the few species that were.
This red headed woodpecker couple were following each other around. I think that top one has a snack so maybe the other one was just trying to get the snack. Or, maybe they were still flirting and would be starting a nest soon.
Butterflies were everywhere along the trail. They loved the thistle.
The weeds were getting high as the heat was setting in.
I love the trees here but if you walk on the lesser traveled trails, you might get a face full of spider web.
I checked out the other backroom before leaving (they have two unisex ones). This one had an eagle and a great blue heron painted on the wall.
I think this may be my new favortie park. It’s quiet and hardly anyone there early on a Saturday morning. It’s about an hour north from my house but a lot of the parks I visit are at least 45 minutes to an hour so it’s not a bad ride (and I don’t have to get on crazy I4). The park is relatively small (compared to Circle B Bar Reserve where you can walk for 6 or 7 miles) but I like the area. The original owners named it Chinsegut which is an Inuit word for “spirit of lost things”. I don’t think I’ll get too lost though since it’s easy to navigate and there are main roads around it if you walk too far.