My first “Raptor Fest”

I had heard about Raptor Fest at Boyd Hill Park for several years but never went. I’m not keen on going to big festivals at my favorite parks. I’d rather go when it’s quiet and not crowded. This year peer pressure got the best of me when I had several friends saying you have to go this year. I got there early and got a good spot for the Earthquest program in the open field. Earthquest is a non-profit environmental education program that introduces the public to different raptors, all of which have come from rehabilitation situations that cannot be released in the wild. They gave examples of how we impact the raptors lives and ways to lessen that impact.  Above is a hawk, I think a red-tailed hawk which is not rare here but not as common as the red shoulder hawk. He was to fly into the tree and then fly to the perch in front. He flew to the tree but never made it to the perch and took off across the park. He eventually came back but everybody got a good laugh at the handler’s expense.

Above is a Harris’s Hawk which I had never seen before.

Black vulture and turkey vultures, both of which I see a lot of around here. One thing I learned is that black vultures find their food by sight, which is why they soar high in the sky. They have amazing sight. Turkey vultures (with the red face and big nose) find their food by smell, which is why they are mostly seen on the ground.

The above condor stole the show. He’s an andean condor but we learned about California condors and their brink of extinction as well.This guy had so much personality. He was supposed to hop up on the perch to get his food but he showed the handler there was an easier way (although I suspect it was planned all along).

A golden eagle which you can’t find in Florida.

Several local bird rescue and rehabilitation groups were also there with injured birds to get close to. Most were missing a wing or an eye.

My friends were right, it was a fun morning. Crowded but fun to watch the kids see these great birds up close. It was also a good morning to practice flight photography as some of the birds flew from tree to perch. There were tons of big cameras and lenses there. Can’t wait until next year’s in early February. I also got some good pictures of an eurasian eagle owl in flight which I’ll post later.

Linking to My Corner of the World.

The usual suspects at Chesnut Park.

Lots of different birds at Chesnut Park in early January but nothing new.

Bigger birds flying overhead.

I was trying to get some shots of the deer on the baseball field, She looked at me for a second and then took off to join her friends who were heading into the woods. Oh wait, that’s why they call them “white-tailed deer”.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

A quiet morning at Fort Desoto

Someone had staked out their spot on the spit island just off the north tip of the beach. By early November, the red tide algae bloom was mostly gone from the beach but there were still some spots that smelled of dead fish. The water looked clear but the bloom came back later for a short time after a big storm. The morning I was there was clear.

The birds on the trails were scarce with the exception of a few common ones including a northern parula and many of the state bird, the mockingbird.

The usual waterbirds were also around.

Frigatebirds were flying high overhead.

On my way out of the park I saw a bald eagle sitting on a utility tower. All of the eagles are back for the winter.

Rainbow of birds

I finally got some shots of the painted buntings that have hanging around the nature center at Circle B Bar Reserve.

A lady painted bunting was also present.

A juvenile indigo bunting was eating on the ground.

Other usual birds were the gnatcatcher and the yellow rumped warbler.

Sandhill cranes were around, digging in the dirt for bugs.

Lots of birds flying around.

Across the lake, an eagle sits in a bald cypress tree.

Just a few pretty things at Circle B Bar Reserve in mid-March.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

More of the same

A red shoulder hawk greets me as I walk on the trail. Right after I shot the hawk, an eagle flies high over my head.

A snowy egret skimming along the marsh and a great blue heron posing.

I think this is a female indigo bunting. I had heard there were buntings in this part of the trail but I didn’t see any male blue ones.  Any confirmation?

One of the many sparrows that hangs out at the intersection of Heron Hideout trail and Eagles Roost trail. Not sure if it’s a Savannah or Swamp,

This little lady flew right in front of me and landed on the tiny stick. She sat there forever.

More black bellied whistling ducks in the marsh.

Same ole gators along the trail.

From my early November visit to Circle B Bar Reserve.

Linking to Wednesday Around the World

Trail full of birds

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There were a few tiny birds at Honeymoon Island Park at the end of January. Tons of yellow rumped warblers and the last one is an eastern towhee.

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The parking lot was full of yellow rumped warblers. They thought the cars were something to play on.

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A very young bald eagle flew by as I headed out on the trail.

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I always see kestrels in the winter here.

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The trail was full of osprey. They were eating, preening and doing a few other things. That last one I took directly in the sun but it was too funny not to post.

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I found a headless osprey in a tree.

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Oh wait, he was just turned around.

All of the usuals at Honeymoon Island State Park.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

More assorted fun at the zoo

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Pretty birds in the aviaries.

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Cutest family at the zoo.

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This gives a whole new meaning to “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

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The resident injured eagle had climbed the tree and was hanging out on a low branch right over the walkway. He was observing everyone walking by.

All at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.