It was an early morning in April and I was looking for a new bird. A great-tailed grackle had been spotting in St. Pete somewhere in the North Shore Park area.
I found this guy but it was a boat-tailed grackle. The only real difference between the two are the color of the eyes. The boat-tailed has black eyes and the great-tailed has yellow eyes. Their call is also different.
There he was, right in the parking lot near the pool. Those bright yellow eyes gave him away. He was right in the area where people had been spotting him. I haven’t heard of one being in the Tampa Bay area before. They are found on the western part of the country so he was far off course.
Meanwhile, this Cooper’s hawk was there as well, looking at me like I was crazy.
I noticed the trees were blooming.
I’m not sure if squirrels can eat these big balls hanging from the palm tree but this one seem to be hiding in them.
I made a quick stop at nearby Crescent Lake Park to see if the white pelicans were still hanging around the lake. I only saw 2 of them on this visit. I don’t know if the other ones were somewhere else in the park or if they had already headed north for the summer.
Another quick stop on the way home and I found some black-necked stilts and yellowlegs. They were all hanging out along the ditches near the waste plant. It was still a little early for stilt babies.
My final stop of the morning (but really only a quick drive through) was of the peacock neighborhood. There’s a neighborhood in Clearwater that has tons of wild peacocks roaming the yards. I had recently heard there was an all white one there so I drove through looking for it. I found it but more on that later.
The turkeys were regular visitors to the backyard in early December. One afternoon I saw these 2 looking like they were having a spat. I’m pretty sure they are siblings. Maybe the red head is a male? They were born this spring so they are still pretty young.
Another day I caught them feeding. I think he saw me through the window.
The young doe was also coming by almost every day. She was alone every day until one day I think I saw her with some other females.
One day we had 2 females with a younger deer come by and feed. I was hoping our little Bambi had found some friends.
I heard Harley (our cockatiel) yell his “There’s a hawk in the backyard” scream and I ran over and saw this Cooper’s hawk sitting in the oak tree. I couldn’t get a clear shot of him through the window so I snuck out the back door and was able to get the above. He was not spooked when I walked right up to him. I’m assuming this is the same one that was in our front yard a few months ago.
House finches and pine warblers have been regulars at the feeder and bird bath this winter
I checked in on the neighborhood eagle nest the first week in December. I had been seeing a lone eagle around the neighborhood and this was the first time seeing them both on the nest. I went by right after this and saw a head peak up from the nest but I haven’t seen any other activity. I hope she’s sitting on eggs. I can’t see her from the street so I can’t tell
No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one. I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it. All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.
The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.
A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.
Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.
A little blue heron found a worm in the water.
Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.
He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).
Birds on a wire. Crazy black hooded parakeets staring down at me.
Although we have butterflies all year round here in central Florida, they are rare to find in the winter. Now more are showing up since it was warming up in late February.
Skimming the surface, looking for snacks on the water.
I rarely see Cooper’s hawks. This one was hiding off the trail.
Always fun to see the turtles. People feed them here so they are not shy.
A northern parula signing his heart out.
Limpkin with a snack.
Off the boardwalk, taken with my phone.
After leaving Largo Nature Preserve in late February I stopped by Kapok Park on the way home. It was quiet and not many birds around. I had not been here in a long time. The small lake here is lined with cypress trees which turn orange in the fall. I always forget to come here to get pictures of them. By now all of the cypress trees are fully green again but I won’t be seeing them for a while.
Black bellied whistling ducks hanging low in the grass, trying to avoid the haws and eagles flying overhead.
A blue headed vireo being cute.
An osprey was sitting on a branch that crossed over the trail. I was trying to make sure he didn’t poop on me while I was trying to take his picture. I’m not sure what type of fish that was but it had a red tint to it.
A cooper’s hawk hiding in the bushes across the canal.
This male cardinal was deep in the bushes. Not a good picture but it was funny to see him with that caterpillar squished in his beak.
A grackle on the boardwalk.
She came over a little closer, checking to see if I had a snack to give her.
A very young cooper’s hawk. Just starting to leave the nest.
The nest was a few trees back in the woods. For the last couple of weeks, we could hear the babies screaming for food but it wasn’t until the babies started hopping around and branching closer to the boardwalk that we could see them.
A great egret flies by the boardwalk with a snack.
Besides all of the little critters and four-legged ones, there were a few birds at Chesnut Park in mid-July. Nothing unusual but it was great to the see the baby cooper’s hawk after hearing them scream for weeks and not being able to see them from the nest.
Some of the summer birds at Chesnut Park in mid-June.
I don’t see Cooper’s hawks that often. This one was watching his nest, far into the woods. We couldn’t see the babies but we could hear them crying for food.
Not great shots but I couldn’t resist. The above two shots are of a blue-gray gnatcatcher nest high up in a tree. It looked like a golf ball from the naked eye. I think there were 3 babies on the nest. By the time you could see them, they were outgrowing the nest. These are extremely zoomed in and cropped. Thanks to Joe with his scope that knows every bird that is born at the park.
Even smaller critters have taken over. Grasshoppers and butterflies were everywhere.
This little beauty had deer flies on her face. They are worse than mosquitos.
Taken with my phone, a shot of the swamp from the boardwalk.