I thought this was a new bird

No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one.  I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it.  All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.

The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.

A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.

Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.

A little blue heron found a worm in the water.

Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.

He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).

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Birds at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

It’s not often you can get this up close with an eagle. This one was missing part of his wing and was spending his time at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. I caught him taking a bath.

Pelicans were hanging out in their big open space. Some were starting to nest.

Other birds were just hanging out and preening when I was there in mid-November.

I caught these two wild night herons fighting over nesting space over the roof of an exhibit.

You can also get close to the spoonbills. And since the flamingos were right behind you, you wouldn’t have to look at them and think they were flamingos.

On the trail in early November

The yellow flowers were out in full force in early November at Circle B Bar Reserve.

Usual birds along the trail. That anhinga has something stuck on his beak. Hopefully he was able to scrap it off. He would be really hard to catch since his is flying and was on a stump in a lake full of alligators.

An eagle flew over my head along the trail.

Later I saw a young eagle sitting on a tree far off the trail close to the lake.

This one was close to the trail. Probably waiting for foot traffic to stop so he could cross.

A tree next to the lake was full of cormorants.

Scenes from the trail on this beautiful morning.

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Just catching sunrise.

I use to set my alarm to get up early on the weekends but lately my internal alarm has been going off early and I got out of bed one Saturday morning in November and headed to Circle B Bar Reserve. Although, not that early since the sun was just peaking out as I hit the trails. It’s the perfect time to be there, quiet and not many people there yet. You can hear the birds starting to talk and the whistling ducks were starting to fly back and forth.

One of my favorite views in the morning.

There wasn’t a lot of different birds out. The usuals were there (moorhens, whistlers, herons, egrets, cormorants) but I didn’t see many uncommon birds. The above are fairly common in the winter (female common yellowthroat, house wren and the purple gallinules) but sometimes a little bit harder to find.

Some of the smaller critters along the trail.

The eagle’s nest is pretty far away but I could still see both eagles on the nest. Maybe she’s looking at her eggs in the nest?  Might have been a little early but soon.

SkyWatch Friday

Nice morning at the zoo

Fun animals at Zoo Tampa in late February. The weather was cool so many of the animals were moving around. This was the first time in a long time I’ve seen the bears playing together.

The eagle was stretching and you can see he has part of his wing missing. He was injured out in the wild and lives at the zoo now. The other eagle was sitting high up in the tree looking over the zoo.

The lorikeets were all flirting and preening.

I can’t go to the zoo and not take a ton of manatee pictures.

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A “quicky” before lunch.

I was standing on the edge of the lake at Chesnut Park looking around for ducks when an eagle started circling around me. It landed high in the cypress trees along the lake.

Not a great view but I could still see it through the branches. A juvenile eagle flew by and the adult eagle started screaming.

The young eagle landed in the tree right in front of me, several trees away from where the adult eagle was sitting.

A few minutes later another adult eagle landed into the tree and in a quick moment, mated. I was bummed that I couldn’t get a clear view with so many branches in the way. I would have had to go swimming in the lake to get a better view and there’s a lot of gators in that lake. A few minutes later all of the eagles took off in the other direction and I was standing there like “What just happened?” I’m not sure where they nest at this lake but I had heard over the years that it’s not in a visible location.

Checking on the nests at Honeymoon Island

True to its name, the Osprey Trail on Honeymoon Island is known for having a lot of Osprey along the trail. There are many nests along the trail and when I was there in late January, the osprey were working on refreshing the old ones.

Both eagles were sitting in a tree near the nest which was a bad sign. They were sitting on eggs earlier so something must have happened to cause them to abandon the nest. They might try again. It was still early.

Towhees, catbirds and yellow rumped warblers were all along the trail.

Lots of vultures here.

New growth in some of the prescribed burn areas.

This guy walked right in front of me on the trail.

I hadn’t been to Honeymoon Island since last spring. I wanted to see if the osprey were nesting yet. Honeymoon Island is a barrier island north of Clearwater Beach. In the 1940’s the island was a place known for people to spend their honeymoon in the cottages on the island. Once World War 2 started people stopped coming to the island and later the cottages were torn down.

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Looking for eagles and owls

I found the owls in the same spot they were last year. The park is not too far from work so I stopped by one night before dark. Found one of the adults on a branch just above the nest. “My, what big feet you have!”

Found a baby sitting on the nest. A little fluff ball.

I looked for eagles along the utility towers across the bay where they usually hang out. I couldn’t find any mixed in with all of the cormorants.

The eagles are not nesting in the middle of the horse farm this year. There was a lot of new construction going on nearby so I was afraid they wouldn’t come back this year. I found them nearby in a utility tower. I think they took over an osprey nest high up in the tower.

Ibis flying by right before dark.

I found a lone robin near the owl nest.

Up close with some crazy animals

It’s not often you can get up close to a bald eagle.  Especially a juvenile one (the all brown one in the last shot). These eagles are all missing a wing and now live at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. They are in an open enclosure and just love to pose.

Pelicans were just starting to nest.

A night heron in the first shot. He crept up pretty close to me. The wild great blue herons were working on nests in the top of the trees over the alligator exhibit.

A burrowing owl trying to sleep.

Other animals were all just chilling out the morning I was there in early January. Lots of fun animals at the park. Unfortunately most are injured but have a home here at the park.

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Crazy chickens at the farm

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It’s amazing how the chickens and roosters all have their  own personalities. I didn’t grow up around them. I grew up thinking chickens came from a grocery store!!! It’s funny to watch them walk around the farm like they own the place.

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The eagle’s nest is close by so I stopped to see if there was any babies yet. I saw one adult sitting on the nest but after a few minutes, the adult on the nest flew over to another tree where the mate was sitting.

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I didn’t think they would leave the nest empty like that if there were eggs or babies but on a more recent trip two babies were there so I’ll post those as soon as I edit them.

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Pretty flowers at Horsepower For Kids Animal Sanctuary.