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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Are there babies yet?

The trees were still bright red in early February, showing a pop of color across the pond.

The usual birds were still at Possum Branch Preserve. A grebe and a tricolored heron were easy to photograph.

We had a new visitor to the pond. A few glossy ibis showed up. It’s the first time I’ve seen a glossy ibis in this part of Pinellas county and the first I’ve heard of one being at this pond. They were pretty skittish but one let me get some good shots when I hid behind the tree. He was busy eating the pond bugs.

I stopped by a nearby park to see if the great horned owls were still nesting. It was quiet this morning and the other photographers there thought there were babies but no one has seen them yet. I was thinking it was a little early anyway. When I got home and cropped up the shot of the mom sleeping in the nest, I could just make out some white fuzz under her chin so there was at least one baby in the nest. It was going to be a while before we really got to see anything.

Dad was on a branch farther up the tree.

Some cute little squirrels were hiding in a tree nearby.

More shots to come of the baby owls and those cute little squirrels from a later trip.

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Rainbows in the woods

I was in the mood for a road trip but didn’t want to go anywhere that I would have to walk far. I headed down to a small Audubon preserve about an hour south of Tampa. There’s a small preserve run by the Audubon Society that has feeders set up with a blind in the middle of a neighborhood (mostly horse farms and small cow pastures). It was 40 degrees when I got there early in the morning in late December. No one else was around. I got to the blind and sat for a few minutes thinking “Is it too cold for the birds?”. I walked around the small preserve for a while and when I came back to the blind a half hour later I just sat on the bench. I was about to give up when a saw a flash of color head to the feeders. Several male painted buntings and young blue buntings started coming to feeder.  One was sitting on an empty feeder waiting his turn at the full feeder. I think this is the most painted buntings I’ve seen in one place. I ended up spending an hour watching these beautiful birds in the quiet.

Walking out of the preserve, I noticed this tree had turned bright orange. Yes, fall was starting to hit in late December.

Two parks in one morning.

A northern parula going for a mulberry at Possum Brand Preserve. This is one of two trees there but only one blooms in the fall.

I’m not sure what the second picture is. I thought it was a red eyed vireo like the 3rd one but the yellow around the eyes is throwing me off.

Yellow-rumped warblers are pretty easy to spot. Mostly drab colors but that pop of yellow on his backside gives him away.

A house wren with a teeny snack in his beak. These guys are usually pretty shy and stay deep in the bushes but this one popped out for a minute.

The grebes are always looking up. Ready to take a dive if a hawk flies by.

The anhinga was across the pond but I managed to catch him with his catch.

After leaving Possum Branch I headed for a quick walk at Chesnut Park. I found a purple gallinule at the end of the dock there. Last year a pair had babies there in the spring so hoping for another crop this year.

I spotted this great blue heron with breakfast.

At the beginning of January, if finally looked like winter at the pond at Chesnut Park. The bald cypress leaves had fallen and blanketed the pond with brown and orange.

At Possum Brand Preserve, some of the cypress trees still had their leaves but they were already brown.

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A little bit of fall.

I always forget that there’s a park close by that has a lake lined with cypress trees. In late fall the cypress trees turn orange before they lose their leaves and it’s a little bit of fall leaves that we get in central Florida. I stopped by Kapok Park in late November and missed the peak orange but caught it at the end. It was a cool morning out so it was a few minutes of feeling like fall season.

Panos taken with with my phone. I wished I had remembered to come a few weeks earlier.

This tree was pulled over during a storm several years ago. It’s still alive and many birds and critters live in it.

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Craving yellow, red and orange

Now that we are well into November, I’m really craving fall leaves. Normally, Brett and I would have taken a trip in early October to see fall leaves. Last year we were in Boston and the the year before in Utah and we saw a lot of yellow and orange. Here in central Florida, we don’t really see fall leaves until late December if that and this year we just had day trips close to home. I was looking through some old folders and found these pictures of the leaves in the north Georgia mountains. Years ago Brett and I were visiting relatives and went hiking at Amicalola Falls State Park. It’s about an hour north of Atlanta so it was easy to get there. It hadn’t been raining for a while so there wasn’t much water coming over the falls but the leaves were amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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It’s starting to look like fall in mid- December.

The usual birds at  Chesnut Park in mid-December.

A sleepy alligator.

Color from across the lake. It finally looks like fall as the cypress trees start to turn.

The sun peaking through along the trail. These were taken with my phone.

It’s not often I see two pileated woodpeckers on the same tree. I took this with my phone since I couldn’t fit both of them in with my 300mm lens and I couldn’t back up into the swamp.

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More from our Boston vacation

Fall colors in the city.

More shots from Boston.

This big mural was near our hotel. It was beautiful to see it up close.

We finally stood in line at Boston’s famous Mike’s Pastry Shop for dessert one night. This was not a long line. We only waited about 15 minutes. Besides all of the cannoli flavors they had listed across the wall, there were cases of other desserts as well. Brett got several different cannolis and I got a slice of Nutella cheesecake. It was awesome!

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Heading into Salem

The ferry ride from Boston harbor to Salem was a lot of fun. Beautiful houses along the shore and you could see the Boston skyline almost all the way there.

We were hoping to see a lot of yellow and red trees on this trip but we were a little early. Only a few yellow trees.

We got to tour an old ship that was being renovated in the Salem harbor.

We found a black squirrel just outside of the cemetery and these pretty dogwood trees were still in bloom.

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