Better than birds

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I had heard there were buntings down at Felts Preserve, almost an hour south of my home.  I don’t know whether I was too early or too late. After walking around for over an hour, the only birds I saw were doves and grackles. I decided to make a loop around the outer trail and heard something splashing along the little creek. I sat down in the grass and watched the otter family play for a while before they dove under water and headed down the creek. They were so cute. They kept their eye on me but they seemed okay that I was sitting farther down the trail.  All of the above are extremely cropped.

Felts Preserve – A new park for me.

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A pileated woodpecker high up in the tree. I heard they nested close by here this summer. I totally missed the boat on it this year. Next year I’m going to try to get down here to see baby pileateds.   To see some amazing baby woodpeckers screaming at mom, see Jim Gray’s shots here . He has the patience of a saint and will sit there all day waiting for those babies to wake up.

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The preserve was full of these grasshoppers. They were on ground all over the trails and would hop up in front of me to get out the way. At one point, one hopped on my shoulder. They have a pretty dotted pattern on their back wings, almost like a leopard print. When they hop away, they look yellow.

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A skipper on the blade of grass.

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A nearby goat farm. They all looked so cute grazing.

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Or do they?

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This one looked cute. He was standing close to the fence.

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Across the street from the goat farm was a horse pasture with a few horses grazing. I’m not sure what that is on his face. I’ve never seen that before. I’m guessing something to keep the bugs out of his eyes? I bet Theresa from Run A Round Ranch  knows why that cover is on his face.

I had heard of Felts Preserve (in between St. Petersburg and Sarasota) but had not made it there. I had heard it was a big painted and indigo bunting stop-over during migration and still had not gone. Someone told me it was near the outlet mall. Oh! I usually get to the outlet mall about twice a year. It’s almost an hour south of my house. It’s a beautiful drive down (over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge) and tons of great stores but life (or birding) usually gets in the way of shopping. After two hours of shopping, I found the preserve. It’s a small preserve, only 27 acres and is in the middle of cow, goat and horse farms. The land was donated to the Audubon Society when Otis Felts died in 2002. I was crazy to go in July. It was hot and I had to put on two coats of bug spray. The only bird I saw was the pileated woodpecker. The air was filled with grasshoppers, gnats and mosquitos. But, I can’t wait to get back there in the fall. I think it has potential when migration starts (and it’s always  nice to be able to pick up a few bargains at the outlet mall before hand).

Shine the Divine Mandarin Orange Monday