I was out on my bike cruising my new favorite trail through the cow pastures in late February. I had to wait until the sun was up a little since it was a little chilly this morning.
This time the cows were on the far end of the first pasture.
This meadowlark didn’t move from the fence as I rode by so I stopped and got a quick shot of him.
This sandhill couple were right on the trail. By now they should be having babies so hopefully I can catch some little crane colts.
The eagle’s nest far across the pasture was busy with 2 babies almost fully grown. They are way ahead of the ones in my neighborhood.
There are holes along the fence that I usually don’t pay attention to but this one caught my eye. The gopher tortoise had come out of his hole and was sitting close to the trail. They are state-listed as Threatened in Florida so we have to keep our distance.
It was a busy sparrow day along the trail. I found three all feeding nearby. The first is a Savannah with that bit of yellow above the eye. The second is a Swamp (he was hiding in the bushes so it was hard to get him) with that dark brown streak over his head and orange tinted wings. The last two are grasshopper sparrows. There is a Florida subspecies which I thought this one was based on the white tips on the feathers and darker back feathers but after researching their habitat I don’t think it is. They are only found in the middle of the state and are very rare and endangered.
This one is the reason I was taking so many pictures of sparrows. It’s a vesper sparrow and my first one. It’s not rare for him to be here in central Florida but this was the first I’ve heard of one being in the Tampa bay area and he’s been hanging out at the cow pasture for a few weeks.
A phone shot of the cow pasture and one of the many ponds. These are the perfect Florida winter days, sunny and 70 degrees.
The turkeys were regular visitors to the backyard in early December. One afternoon I saw these 2 looking like they were having a spat. I’m pretty sure they are siblings. Maybe the red head is a male? They were born this spring so they are still pretty young.
Another day I caught them feeding. I think he saw me through the window.
The young doe was also coming by almost every day. She was alone every day until one day I think I saw her with some other females.
One day we had 2 females with a younger deer come by and feed. I was hoping our little Bambi had found some friends.
I heard Harley (our cockatiel) yell his “There’s a hawk in the backyard” scream and I ran over and saw this Cooper’s hawk sitting in the oak tree. I couldn’t get a clear shot of him through the window so I snuck out the back door and was able to get the above. He was not spooked when I walked right up to him. I’m assuming this is the same one that was in our front yard a few months ago.
House finches and pine warblers have been regulars at the feeder and bird bath this winter
I checked in on the neighborhood eagle nest the first week in December. I had been seeing a lone eagle around the neighborhood and this was the first time seeing them both on the nest. I went by right after this and saw a head peak up from the nest but I haven’t seen any other activity. I hope she’s sitting on eggs. I can’t see her from the street so I can’t tell
I finally caught the bald eagle in the tree at the Oldsmar pier. I had stopped by several times with my camera before finding him sitting high up there. He didn’t stay long, taking off not long after I had arrived.
As he left, he flew by so close that I couldn’t fit his wings in. I still haven’t figured out if this is one of the eagles that has a nest in my neighborhood or somewhere else. There is a another nest nearby but that couple did not use it this past year. He always flies north towards my neighborhood when he leaves which is why I’m thinking it’s him.
Walking on the pier I noticed another eagle sitting in a tree at the far end of the park. He was facing the water and wasn’t very visable from the sidewalk but I caught the above from the pier.
A few of the other birds at the pier. I think that tricolored heron was keeping his eye on the sky in case the eagle was heading towards him.
A cormorant cruises by the pier.
The black terns were still there.
The next day I was heading up to Tarpon Springs for a walk and I saw 2 eagles on a tower. I pulled over into a parking lot and shot the above. It wasn’t until later when I cropped up the picture that I realized the eagle on the right is a dummy. I don’t know if they put the fake up there to attract or repel other birds. The real eagle on the left didn’t seem to mind. Now I laugh when I drive by there and see that fake sitting up there.
A few things blooming on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve at the end of March.
Looking across the pond, I took this straight into the sun.
The painted buntings were still there and I was able to catch two males sitting near each other. After feeding they both flew across the canal.
A crow showing me his nesting material before taking off.
A few fly bys. A cattle egret up in the sky and a great blue heron cruising low over two alligators.
It doesn’t get much better than this. A cool sunny morning on the trails.
I could see an eagle high up in the cypress tree across the pond.
Farther down the trail I saw two eagles chasing each other.
They both landed high up in the trees and sat together for a while, often yelling. Mating season was over so I’m not sure what they were doing. Maybe a late nest? Maybe they were making plans to meet up this fall? Or they were talking about how great their new kids were?
I’m thinking this will be my last trip here until late Fall. It’s a long drive to Lakeland and it’s too hot to be out on the trails in the middle of summer. I’ll be sticking close to home and the coast to catch a little breeze (although probably a hot one).
In the middle of March my neighborhood eagle babies were as big as their parents. They were hopping around and moving around the tower near the nest.
One of the parents flew in with a squirrel and both babies attacked the parent. I’m sure both were hungry that morning. The older one usually gets to eat first.
The parent dropped of the meal and left. At this point they were bringing back several snacks each morning. These babies were eating a lot.
The younger one just sits there and watches his big sibling eat first. If there’s any left he’ll get the rest or wait for a parent to bring in more food.
A few days later it was dark and cloudy with a storm moving in so I stopped for a quick visit and caught one of the babies eating while the other was sitting high up in the tower. If the nest was in a tree this would be called branching, where they start hopping around from branch to branch but in this cause they are working their way up the tower.
Another week later and the oldest was still eating first. He eventually stopped and let the younger one eat but not without a “I can already fly” attitude.
A few minutes later a parent flew in with a small fish (in his left talon).
He dropped off the fish and took off again.
After a full meal everything was quiet for a while.
Early March at the neighborhood eagle’s nest. One morning I got there and heard one of the parents screaming from a tree nearby. She left right after I snapped this and showed up at the nest later with a snack.
These were all in the first week of March. The oldest baby got to eat first and then the younger one got what was left. Most days several snacks were brought to the nest. One morning I was there for an hour and they brought in 2 fish and a squirrel.
After the eldest finished eating he was showing off his flight skills. He was getting pretty high up but his landing was always wobbly.
One of the parents flew off. Probably the Mom who had been there all night.
A week later I stopped by on a cloudy day. Rain was coming in but I wanted to see them before the storm hit. One of the babies was really enjoying his meal. It looked furry so I’m thinking a squirrel. Most of the earlier meals looked like fish.
A few days later and they were really getting some air. At this point both parents would be missing most of the morning. Only to stop by to drop off food for the babies.
I got up early and was headed to see some eagles north of Tarpon Springs. It was only barely foggy at my house with the sun peaking out but as I drove north the fog got so thick I could barely see. I was thinking the eagles would be tough to shoot in the fog so I decided to stop for a long walk (I was going to walk after the eagles anyway). I parked along the main strip in Tarpon Springs where the sponge docks were and was one of only a few out that early. It was weird to walk around in the fog here. I’m usually here at lunch on the weekends with all of the other tourists.
A few of the sights along the strip.
At the far end of the strip away from the restaurants and shops, I found some local fish markets. I made a note to get back up here for some seafood to take home.
The water was quiet and I could barely see some pelicans still sleeping in the mangrove bushes across the way.
I thought this was a cool old building, off the beaten path. I’m sure there’s some great history here.
After my walk I finally made it to the eagles nest. There were two babies in the nest but I could only see one of them sitting up. They were fully grown at this point but hadn’t left the nest yet. An adult was sitting in a snag close by, looking all magestic even in the fog.