I was out running errands one morning this summer and I had my camera in the car so I took a long slow back road to get home. There wasn’t much traffic on this road so I pulled over to get some shots of the yellow tickseed blooming and the clouds moving in.
I found a cow pasture with a sandhill crane family feeding on the bugs in the cow patties. The couple had a juvenile with them.
A cow was poking her head through the fence to get to the good grass.
A swallow tail kite flies overhead while I was pulled over taking pictures of the cow.
Meadowlarks were singing along the cow pasture.
Why did the vulture cross the road? I saw this vulture sitting on the road up ahead. Then I saw a few more along the ditch so I pulled over.
They were feasting on what looked like a cow leg. So many questions! Did the cow get loose? Did the leg fall off a truck? I didn’t see any cow pastures on this part of the road. Where did it come from? Or was it something else? A wild hog? That would be a pretty big one if so. Vultures are nature’s cleaning crew and they were doing their job.
Scenes from my bike ride in late May. Pedaling past cow pastures.
I had my camera in my backpack and had to stop for a shot of the cattle egret with the cow. This is where they get their name. Egrets hanging out with the cattle, trying to eat the bugs that the cows stir up as they eat the grass.
I found the meadowlarks again.
I found several juvenile tree swallows sitting on the fence. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them actually sitting down. They spend most of their time cruising around catching bugs. EDIT: Thanks to Lea’s Menagerie for a correct ID. The above is an eastern kingbird. I’m still learning a lot of the migrating birds. This was late May so it makes sense he could still be hanging around. I think that Florida sun is starting to get to me.
A pond along the cow pasture fence was a busy watering hole.
There are several gopher tortoise holes along the fences but this was the first time I have seen one out of his hole. They are listed as Threatened in Florida and both the tortoise and their burrows are protected by law.
I bought a bike in early April, mostly to cruise around the neighborhood but since I can fold it and put it in the back I decided to take it out on a bike path. There’s a parking area about 15 minutes north of me that picks up the northeastern end of the Pinellas Trail. The path goes through cow pastures and a golf course and I didn’t think I would see too much else so I only had my phone with me the first ride. Above are taken with my phone. I was not surprised to see sandhill cranes along this path since I had heard there were a lot of them up here.
A week later I came back up here with my camera and longer lens in my backpack. Far across the cow pasture I could see a juvenile eagle sitting high up on a utility tower. I saw several eagles when I was riding the week before. Next fall I’ll have to look for a nest although it’s probably in a utility tower like the one by my house.
I love seeing the cattle egret hanging out with the cows. They are hoping the cows churn up some bugs as they chew the grass.
I found several meadowlarks along the fence.
I’m assuming the sandhill crane couple I found was the same one I saw the week before. They were in a cow pasture farther down the trail. This is a fun trail to ride and there’s not much traffic during the week so I’ll be coming here quite a bit.
On my way back from my road trip to central Florida to look for the whooping cranes, I stopped along a quiet rode when I saw the above sandhill crane family far out in a cow pasture. The two babies were already big and could keep up with the parents. These are all extremely cropped pictures.
The cow was looking at me like I was crazy.
Central Florida is full of cow pastures and citrus groves.
I’ve only heard of two whooping cranes in central Florida although they supposedly migrate to an area farther north of Tampa in the winter. I think the ones I went looking for don’t migrate and live here all year. People have seen them in the area most of the year. I had an idea of the area they were in and drove a while down dirt roads lined with cow pastures and orange groves. I was thinking “needle in a haystack” and was ready to go home empty handed when I saw two white spots far away in a cow pasture. Excited, I pulled over and got out and snapped a few shots. Using my 300mm lens with an extender, the above were extremely cropped
Uncropped, they were in a small pond in the middle of a cow pasture.
Taken with my phone, you could really see how far away they were. See those two tiny white dots right in the middle?
There were a lot of other birds out in the pasture that you could only see with a long lens, including several kildeer in the first shot and lots of cattle egrets in the bottom two shots. It was a perfect day to be out, even if it was standing on a dirt road with the smell of cow pasture blowing in my direction.