Cruising by the cows

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.

SkyWatch Friday

Largo Nature Preserve in early April

It’s always fun to see baby mallards (although with that yellow beak on the Mom, these may be mottled ducks). There were two families at Largo Nature Preserve in early April. One was feeding in the water and the other was walking around on the walking path. They eventually made it down to the water.

The two northern shovelers were still there. They are probably up north for the summer by now.

Looking up in the utility tower I saw a young eagle. I often see adult eagles sitting here but today it was a younger one. Maybe 4 years old? They don’t get a full white head until their 5th year. This one still had a little brown on his. Maybe he was born in the area.

While watching the eagle, a Canadian goose flies by. They hang out on the golf course along the park so it’s not a surprise.

Across the canal a cattle egret had a dragonfly in his beak.

Brown thrashers are common here. This one was singing away.

Night herons can usually be found napping along the boardwalk.

A monk parakeet coming down to the ground to get a snack.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Back out in the wild

I headed back over to the Manatee Viewing Center at the electric plant when my sister was visiting in February. We got there right when it opened on a weekday and it was already crowded. Everyone was here to see the hundreds of manatees floating near the dock. I first noticed a girl out there floating with them. She worked with an enviremental agency and was counting the manatees and making notes of each one’s distinct markings. There was also one on the dock counting. Can you imagine floating around with all of those manatees? It seems like a dream job.

Standing on the dock looking down, you could see lots of them floating close together. I took this one with my phone.

It was hard to single them out and get close up shots.

When we first got there we had heard there was going to be a manatee released back into the wild. We got a good spot on the dock railing and I was able to get pictures of them bringing it down to the water.

They carried that heavy manatee down to the water and carefully placed the tarp in the water and the manatee swam away. Everyone cheered as he swam out of the blue tarp. The thing I find interesting is that it was all women who carried that manatee that could have weighed from 1500 to 3000 lbs. Many of them were volunteers.

The manatee had been rehabilitated at Zoo Tampa, probably stranded from cold stun or starving (which many of them have been lately due to changes in grass beds).The zoo has a manatee hospital on site and you can see some of the resident ones there.

A few of the birds cruising by as we were waiting for the manatee release. A bald eagle was flying over by the electric plant and a tricolored heron flew right by the dock.

One of the cute statues at the viewing center.

My Corner of the World

Dolphins, Osprey and Eagles, Oh My!

I found an eagle’s nest in my neighborhood and I’ve been keeping my camera in my car in case I wanted to stop and get some pictures. The nest is high up in a utility tower and it’s a tough shot with the light. The sun is behind it most of the day and I can’t get on the other side.

One recent day I went early in the morning and stood for a while watching the nest. When I first got there I didn’t see any eagles so I though maybe it was a bust but then one flew in and started feeding the baby. You can just make out the baby’s head in between the sticks. I’ve only seen one eagle here so I wonder if the parent is now flying solo with this baby. Both parents usually hang around the nest.

After the eagle’s nest, I headed over to the nearby fishing pier just to see what was going on. It was too nice to head back home. I could see dolphins out in the bay.

There’s usually several osprey diving around for fish but they are far away. This one cruised close to the fishing pier.

At some point I realized there was an eagle chasing the osprey. The osprey had a fish in his talens and the eagle was trying to steal it. Eventually the osprey dropped the fish in the water and the eagle stopped chasing him. They were pretty far out in the bay but it was still pretty cool to see.

The eagle flew by the pier and landed in a tree at the end of the pier. I ran back down the pier towards the parking lot hoping he wouldn’t take off before I got back there. I was able to take a couple of shots before he took off again and flew over the trees towards a neighborhood. Where was he going?

My Corner of the World

Critters close to home

I was coming home from the grocery store and saw this guy feeding in my neighborhood. I had my camera in the car so I had to make a quick stop and shoot this.

I’ve been keeping an eye out on the towers in the neighborhood and one day I saw this juvenile eagle sitting high up. Several of the towers have nests but I was thinking they were all osprey nests. One of the nests was an eagle’s nest. Maybe this guy was born in the neighborhood last year?

There’s a water reclamation facility close to home and every winter the pond is filled with wintering ducks. I finally stopped to check out what kind of ducks they were. This is a small section of the ducks that were in the pond. The majority of them were redhead ducks but there were a few lesser scaup mixed in. I think this pond has the highest number of wintering ducks in the area.

There were a few hooded mergansers staying away from the other ducks and kept close to the fence.

One morning I was heading to the Oldsmar fishing pier and I caught these guys right before the pier. “A spoonbill, a woodstork and a great egret walk into a bar…..”

I was heading to the fishing pier because I had seen an eagle sitting in the tree in the parking lot there back in October. I hadn’t seen him since until this day. He was cruising around the fishing pier before taking off over the houses nearby.

The same ole things

The welcoming committee at the entrance to Circle B Bar Reserve wasn’t doing a very good job. They were too busy stuffing their faces. Pigs.

It was a generally quiet morning for birds in late December. A sparrow, a downy woodpecker (making that landing), an anhinga posing and the usual black bellied whistling ducks.

Across the lake anhingas were hanging out in a bald cypress tree. The tree was losing it’s leaves for the winter, although this one looks like it’s been broken off at the top.

Far across the marsh I could see a northern harrier and an eagle. After standing there on the trail for an hour hoping either would get closer, I finally gave up and headed home for lunch.

My Corner of the World

Early morning on the beach.

I got to Fort Desoto Park after the sun had come up but it was hiding behind a big cloud. I was able to catch the orange glow behind the cloud though, right over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

I was hoping to find the big flock of white pelicans who had been hanging out at the park for weeks now but I could only find 2 out at the north end. 

I know I have a million pictures of the reddish egret but I can’t help stopping and snapping a few more when he’s dancing around for his fish. He was hanging out in a tide pool and was putting on a show.

A few other birds on the beach was a turkey vulture cleaning up the beach eating a dead fish and a great blue heron strutting around.

I was walking on a back trail hoping to find the white pelicans in the back lagoon and saw this eagle flying in to a tree right in front of me. He landed in a dead tree which was good since he would have been hidden in the leaves if the the tree was still alive. He stayed for a few seconds and grabbed a branch before taking off. Assuming he was heading back to the nest across the park.

Pelicans flying across the clouds.

I stopped by the fishing pier before leaving but it was quiet. I couldn’t help but snap the cormorant drying his wings and then I noticed this crow trying to eat a piece of paper. He played with it for a few minutes but finally realized he couldn’t eat it so he dropped it in the water. Ugh. More trash.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

A hot morning in August

A quiet (swampy) place to reflect. Just ignore the Beware of Alligators sign on the right.

This one was watching me as he cruised in front of the dock.

I found a few wood ducks in front of the dock at Chesnut Park.

Young cardinals were all over the park. They were all pretty scruffy looking, not having gotten their adults feathers in all the way yet.

A limpkin trying to hide behind some weeks.

The little chickadees were so cute. There were a lot of them here in early August. I saw my first one here at this park more than 10 years ago and then didn’t see any for a long time. Now I’ve seen a few around on most of my visits in the past few years.

After leaving Chesnut Park and heading home, I stopped at a small park nearby on the bay to see if anything was around the fishing pier. I had fun watching this dog romp around in the low tide. He stuck his tongue in the water for a drink but he did not like that salty water.

The one that got away. After taking a bunch of pictures of the dog in the water, I look up and see the back of an eagle heading the other way. I’ll have to keep an eye out here during the winter to see if there’s a nest nearby.

My Corner of the World

A brave Mom defending her babies.

It was drizzling on and off in early February when I first caught a glimpse of the baby great horned owls at Fort Desoto. The two babies huddled together and Mom stayed with them on the nest when I first got there.

After the rain stopped and the sun was trying to peak out, Mom flew over to a tree across the trail. Looks like she was trying to wake up and stretch.

The black hooded parakeets were flying by, being loud and annoying. The owl paid little attention to the parakeets buzzing around.

All of a sudden Mom sits up and looks at something close by the nest.

We all turned around to see what Mom was looking at. An eagle had quietly landed on a branch right near the nest. The eagle started screaming and Mom flew off the nest and chased the eagle away. It all happened so fast that I did not even got a shot of the confrontation.

After chasing the eagle off, Mom came back and landed on the nest. This time she stayed on the nest for a while. The baby popped his head up for a few seconds then went back to sleep. It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow up.

My Corner of the World

Lake Morton and Circle B Bar Reserve

I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while.  I had taken the above in early December.

Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.

This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.

It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.

Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.

I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.

Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk.  I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic