The moon was still up

There’s something magical about being at Circle B Bar Reserve when the sun is coming up. Besides it not being crowded or hot yet, the birds and critters are very active this early in the morning. It was my first time back since April and it felt good to be out on the trails. I usually don’t come during the summer because it is so hot and the main trails are closed due to alligators nesting on them.

Turning around, I could see the moon still up in the sky.

Of course I had to stop and take pictures of my favorite spot before heading down the trails. The last one is with my phone and you can see how big the marsh is on this trail.

The great blue heron was sitting right on the trail. I walked right under him and he didn’t move. I stopped and snapped the 2nd one with my phone so you can see how close he was.

After passing him I turned around to see if he had flown off. Nope, he’s still there watching the sun come up.

A few fly bys. A night heron and a pair of cormorants.

Some of the tiny birds, a common yellowthroat (who looks more like a masked bandit) and some blue gray gnatcatchers.

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Hanging around the fishing pier

The views from both the bay and gulf piers. In the bottom picture, they are putting in a new utility tower that sits off the fishing pier. It’s weird to see the men tied off on top of that platform. I guess they didn’t want to risk a big splash in the water. It’s actually much higher up than it looks from the pier. They will eventually add the top part and the birds will be able to nest and hang out on it since the old one broke off years ago.

Color on the dunes.

Birds around the pier.

Several dolphins were coming up insanely close to the pier. They would pop right up along the pier as I was looking down so I could only fit in half of their bodies. There were at least 2 with one of them having a zig zag pattern near the blow hole.

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Last visit to the bird rookery this year.

 

After leaving Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa, I stopped by the bird rookery before heading home for one last look before it got too hot. It was fun seeing all of the juvenile wood storks almost grown up. It’s amazing how fast baby birds grow up. A few months later and they are as big as Mom. The young ones still have that pretty pale pink beak and a little fuzz on their heads.

Many of this spring’s early babies were already flying over to the side of the pond across from the mangrove island.

There were 3 snowy egret babies right in the front of the island. They were screaming for Mom who was close by.

High up in the tree a young cormorant was waiting for Mom to cough up the regurgitated fish.

On the way out of the neighborhood I saw a pair of sandhill cranes and stopped for a few minutes to get the above shots.

Road trip north of Tampa

I had a few days off in October and decided to road trip around the area. I wanted to visit some areas that I hadn’t been to before so I headed north with a start destination of Pine Island Beach. It’s a small beach about an hour north of Tampa and a little out of the way (more on that later). On the way back I took back roads and stopped in a small town called Aripeka. There’s an old historic post office and a really cool convenience store and that’s about it.

Aripeka sits on the water and it looks like there is a robust crab and fishing business.

Just past Aripeka is Anclote Key Park and the energy plant sits right next to the park. I stopped for a few minutes and walked around the park.

Traveling south I stopped at Fred Howard Park. It was quiet with the exception of a lot of cormorants and terns sleeping on the beach. It was nice to just be outside and going to some new places. I had not been to Fred Howard Park before. It’s a small beach in Tarpon Springs. I can image it quickly get crowded in the summer.

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Flirting at the local watering hole

The snowy egrets were showing off and flirting.

The little blue herons were doing the same thing.

Some of the other birds were also showing off with their breeding faces.

The turtles were watching all of the action.

Even the cormorants were flirting and chasing each other high up in the trees.

Unlikely pair in the same tree, a wood stork and an osprey.

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Swans a swimming and sleeping.

Lots of cormorants cruising across Lake Morton.

Cleaning up for the ladies. It’s nesting time around the lake.

Seven swans a sleeping?

Posing for me.

“Got a cigarette lady” Talk about timing. I was taking pictures with my long lens of the swan preening far out in the lake when I heard a noise right in front of me on the edge of the lake and saw these two getting frisky. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and snapped these. More baby swans coming around the lake.

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Brown birds high up in the trees

The wild cormorants and anhingas nest in the highest trees at the bird rookery at Gatorland. High over the alligator lake, they build the tiniest nests.

This almost grown cormorant was still being fed by the parent. He was digging way down deep to get that fish that was stuck down his parent’s throat.

This handsome anhinga was still grabbing sticks for a nest.

Another one tried for the longest time to break off this branch.

Bringing it back to the nest!

Photographing New Zealand

Cute, fuzzy and fun at Lake Morton

It’s that fun time of the year when there are baby ducks everywhere. This one Blondie in the family was so cute. It’s amazing they grow up to look like mom.

The three stooges standing on a pipe.

Beautiful swans at  Lake Morton.

It felt like spring in late March.

A wood duck couple.

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Showing off on Lake Morton

Lots of pretty swans on Lake Morton.

The cormorants were getting all their “ducks” all lined up.

In a flash, I saw the male northern shoveler flying away. He was very skittish.  Then a ring necked duck came in for a landing.

A lady was feeding the ducks some cracked corn (which is what they should be eating instead of bread).

Drying off on the lake.

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Two lakes in downtown.

One of the black necked swans.

A black swan working on a nest.

A young mute swan.

A young and an old wood stork.

One of the shelducks at Lake Mirror.

A pied grebe hiding in the reeds,

Cormorants and anhingas drying off in the sun. The first bird in the top picture is an anhinga. The rest are cormorants. Anhingas have a straight beak and spear their fish. Cormorants have a curved beak and hook their fish.

Threes a crowd.

All taken at Lake Morton and Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland. The small lakes are just a few minutes apart so it’s easy to do quick walks around both before heading home.