Twins in the woods

The welcoming committee greeted me as I drove into Chesnut Park in late August. Actually, they barely looked up from their feeding to see who had stopped their car. I snapped the above from the car and then headed to the back of the park to park and walk around.

I found the twins in the back of the park. They were pretty big at this point but still cute with those spots. They stayed close to Mom as they crossed the road and then eventually headed into the back woods. Until next year for the babies!

Seeing spots

Back in late August I headed to a park nearby to see if there were any baby deer. I hadn’t been in a while but had heard there were a few there including twins. It’s theraputic to walk around in the quiet woods after a stressful day but seeing baby deer is an added bonus. I found this family right along the parking lot and leaned on my car for a while watching them eat dinner. The baby would briefly nurse and Mom would just keep eating.

I’m not sure what Mom was doing here. After looking it up, the Mom keeps the baby’s bottom clean to help them poop and to keep the scent off the baby. They say you can tell if a baby has been orphaned if it has a dirty bottom. Now that’s a mother’s love.

The adults started heading into the woods for the night and the baby was running to catch up. I did finally find the twins but more on those later.

A babe in the woods.

The welcoming committee at Chesnut Park. Driving into the entrance I saw these ladies and quickly snapped this with my phone since I hadn’t pulled my camera out yet.

Some of the ladies were already taking their early morning break, resting right along the parking lots.

They always have itches.

I leaned on my car and just watched them for a while, going about their day. It was a treat to see a stag. They usually only show up briefly for mating season here in this park. Most of the older males stay at preserves farther away from town so I rarely see them.

As I was walking down the back trail, I saw this lady cautiously peeking out from the bushes. I stepped back down the trail and saw that she had a baby behind her. They crossed the trail and headed back into the woods.

This was a trip in late August. When it’s crazy hot out and there are few birds around, it’s always fun to see the baby deer.

Chesnut Park

Heading into Chesnut Park I always have to stop at the baseball field if there are deer in the outfield. They only hang out there very early and are usually gone into the woods before 8am.

This little blue heron was blocking the boardwalk out to the dock. Do I walk past him and spook him or just wait?  I would usually wait but there is always someone coming up behind me that’s not going to wait. He jumped down in the reeds and quickly pulled up a crawfish.

I saw 2 Limpkin heads poking out in the reeds and looking closer realized they had babies with them. I waiting until they hit a clearing and was able to snap a few shots of them.

Color on the boardwalk in June.

Walking through the tree path.

The view from the parking lot. The small pond was very quiet this morning.

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Chesnut Park on a Saturday morning

It was nice to see the deer close by in late February.

Taken with my phone, you can see them wandering around near the picnic area next to the lake.

Usual birds include a bluebird, swamp sparrow, carolina wren (singing his heart out) and a purple gallinule (showing off his big yellow feet).

Lots of color in February (which is really our fall). I’m not sure what the pink seed pods are but I’ve seen the squirrels eat them.

He was so close to the boardwalk that I had to take this with my phone to get him in.

I was leaving the park and saw some vultures fighting in the outfield of the ballfield (no one was playing). I parked and got out to see what they were fighting over. Whatever it was had been cleaned off.

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A new preserve close by

I had only recently heard about Lake Dan Preserve through a hiking group. It’s only 30 minutes north so I decided to check it out in early February. It was a colder morning but the sun was warming up. The parking lot was small and hawk was sitting in a tree right over my car. There wasn’t a lot of birds when I first got there.  Only a few yellow-rumped warblers. Probably because that hawk was sitting there out in the open. I hit the trail and walked across the bridge over the lake.

Out on the edge of the lake I could see deer getting a drink.

As I got farther down the trail, I came across a deer that was standing right in front of me. She stared at me for a few seconds before taking off across the field. She did stop and look back for a few seconds before heading into the woods. There were a lot of deer up here roaming around.  All females that I saw this morning.

The only thing I didn’t like about the trail here was that most of it was soft sand which didn’t help my hip. Even walking on the edge didn’t help. I could feel my hip starting to hurt. I really need hard dirt or paved trails for now to keep my hip from going back out again so I didn’t walk as much as I would have liked to.

I found this interesting swamp pond about half way on my walk on a side trail. It was very quiet and I could barely make out deer getting water on the far end. I’m sure lots of critters use this instead of the big lake close by. It was kind of cool to be out here in the quiet and the bald cypress trees in the middle made it feel like winter. It’s amazing what you can find a half hour out of Tampa. First shot is out of the camera, the second I added a filter to make it look more like winter. I wasn’t sure which one I liked better.

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Deer in the woods

I was cutting through the woods at Chesnut Park to get to the big lake and caught movement off to the side. I stopped and saw a big family of deer feeding along the small pond. They checked me out for a few seconds but then kept eating. I stood for a few minutes just watching them, glad no one else was around to spook them for the little time I was trying to take some pictures.

I caught this phoebe in the bushes with a bug in his beak.

Another phoebe out in the open.

Little flying critters. I don’t see red ones often.

I think I woke this guy up. A harmless black racer was sleeping near the trail.

It was starting to look like fall in late November. You could see a glimpse of red.

Sweet interactions

I stopped by Chesnut Park early on a Saturday for a quick walk and saw the deer across the baseball field. They were eating the leaves from the trees.

I found Mom and the baby again and hid in the bushes for a few minutes watching them interact. It was so sweet watching them for a while until the park got busy and they headed into the woods.

Wide open space at Myakka State Park

One of the few animals I saw at Myakka River State Park was a deer near the big lake. She was alone and hiding in the shadow.

Closer to the water I could see some black bellied whistling ducks and black necked stilts.

A crow guarding the parking lot.

Myakka Park, just south of Sarasota, is known for having huge gators. And a lot of them although not as many as the Everglades. Timing is everything to see the big ones. They usually come out to sun themselves late in the afternoon. If it’s really hot, they’ll stay in the water most of the day. I was there early in the morning and only saw a few small ones. There is an area in the park that is off limits that has 100’s of them. The “Deep hole” is a 4 mile round trip hike out to where they are hidden but you have to have a permit to hike out there. The rangers give out 30 permits a day and I heard they are all snatched up in the first hour. I keep saying I want to get down there in the winter and hike out the hole but keep putting it off. I think this winter might be the time.

The sun was just coming up over the trees when I headed out on one trail.

This is a huge park with a lot of wide open spaces. I was out on a rare Monday off so there was hardly anyone there.

A pano with my phone of a dried up lake.

SkyWatch Friday

Seeing spots

I got to Chesnut Park early one Saturday morning in August not expecting to see anything but there it was. The cutest thing with spots.

I stood next to my car for a while watching baby and Mom feeding near the back parking lot. All of a sudden something catches Mom’s eye.

I turned around and the young male with only one antler was walking up. I’ve been seeing him a lot recently, calling him Unicorn. I’m assuming the other side of his antlers will grow in as he gets older. He didn’t get too close to Mom and baby.

The baby was cute as usual, staying close to Mom and copying her.

After walking around the park for a while, I saw them again on the other side of the lake. The baby tried to nurse for a second but Mom kept moving.

Eventually they started heading towards the back woods so I headed home. What is it about baby deer that’s so exciting? The same for dolphins and manatees or even hummingbirds?

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