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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No baby deer yet

One late day after work in July I hopped in the car and headed to Chesnut Park to see if there were any baby deer in the park. It had been drizzling late that day which usually means the park is quiet and the deer come out of the woods with their babies. Of course the sun came out right when I got to there so it was hot and steamy. I noticed this soft shell turtle walking around by a  parking lot.

When I got out of the car to take the picture of the turtle, these two downy woodpeckers flew right into the tree in front of my car.

I originally wasn’t going to walk around if I didn’t see any deer since it was so hot but I saw some birds flying around the bridge over the pond so I walked over for a few minutes and caught the above yellow throated warbler.

This young parula was also on the bridge.

As well as the above young great crested flycatcher. I know they nest somewhere around this area of the park but I’ve never been able to find a nest.

In the back of the park I found a lady feeding the deer some apples and carrots. She was telling me how skinny she thought they looked. She said the deer up north where she lives in the winter were much bigger and hefty. I’m assuming she’s looking at mule deer in the winter which probably are bigger than our white tailed deer here in Florida. She had seen a baby deer earlier in the week so there was at least one there but I couldn’t find him on this night. I’ll keep looking.

Hot morning at Horsepower for Kids.

The ducks were cooling off with a bath at Horsepower for Kids Animal Sanctuary in late June. It made me want to jump in with them and go for a swim.

I decided not to jump in the pond since the geese own the pond and they are aggressive.

Even the tricolored heron was cooling off in the water.

I’m not sure if this white pigeon was a resident or just a visitor. He wasn’t in a cage. 

Some of the chickens hanging around.

Jealous of this guy sleeping (maybe not in the dirt though).

Close ups of the faces at the petting zoo.

A Saturday morning walk around the petting zoo.

 

A fun morning at the petting zoo.

The last time I was at Horsepower for Kids petting zoo/animal sanctuary was in early March.  At the end of May I stopped by right after they had re-opened up.  I figured this was a good place to get out and stretch my legs and it wouldn’t be crowded. Everything is pretty spread out and there were only a few other people there first thing in the morning. These above juvenile geese were growing up in the safety of a pen with a small pond before being released in the big lake.  I realized that they were just eggs when I was there in March and now they were almost grown up. It would have been fun to see them as tiny fluff balls but at least they were growing up to be handsome loud annoying big geese.

The best was seeing the baby peacocks although they were pretty shy and stayed under the bushes. I”m sure the neighbors close by wouldn’t think more peacocks were the best though. So cute!

This goose let me know to stay back (taken with my 400mm lens and cropped).

I only saw one baby chicken wondering around with the adults and she was pretty big.

A few of the other smiling faces.

This beautiful bird was a rescue that the sanctuary had recently taken in. It was a former pet and was very friendly.

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A quiet morning at Chesnut Park.

The baby deer from this summer were almost grown up in late mid October. You can barely see the spots on the first two.

The squirrels were busy eating.Some had better snacks than others.

The usual birds were chilling or hanging.

The day after we got back from Boston I was craving a walk in woods so I headed out for Chesnut Park near my house. Back to my shorts and tshirt routine. And now it’s December 2nd and I feel like I should be posting pictures of snow or Christmas decorations but it ‘s just another day in paradise here in central Florida.

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