Fort Desoto Park in early March

I hadn’t been down to Fort Desoto Park since the middle of December so I was due for a trip in early March. The first stop at the park was North beach to look for shorebirds and reddish egrets. Most of the shorebirds were scarse this morning but I did see a cute little piping plover.

I was trying to focus on the laughing gull flying with something in his beak and realized you can see the Don Cesar Hotel far away on St. Pete beach. It’s hard to miss that big pink hotel.

This willet had a great snack and was trying to hide it from the other willets.

 

One last shot of the old bay pier and the old iconic yellow bait shop. It’s all being torn down now and replaced with a new pier.

Some of the shorebirds that were hanging around the small beach next to the big fishing pier. The willets and sanderlings were trying to sleep. At some point something spooked them and off they went before flying in a circle and landing back again. That common tern had been taking a bath and flew into the sleeping guys to catch a nap.

It was windy on the fishing pier and the usual birds were having trouble with their hair.

Someone caught a fish although it looks too small to eat.

I was out on the end of the fishing pier and could see this great egret with a big snack in his beak,

A January morning at Homosassa Springs

It was just starting to look like fall at the end of January. Some of the trees at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife park were really pretty in red and orange.

A few of the resident flamingoes.  Is it me or is that 2nd one a little grumpy? I think he might have been rolling his eyes at me.

The resident whooping cranes were napping.

We don’t get caracaras in the Tampa Bay area so many people have never seen this bird before. I’ve only seen one in central Florida once on the way to Miami.

One of the otters was out playing and came close to the boardwalk.

I caught some ibis taking baths in the main pond. These guys are wild and hang out hoping for a stolen snack.

The water was so clear, you could see the fish swimming around.

Big floating potatoes (manatees)

It had been cold for a while in mid-January so I drove up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park to see if there were a lot of manatees close to the docks. As soon as I got out to the dock this mom (with her baby) did a twirl for me and was showing her belly.

There were hundreds of manatees out in the river, many were close to the bridge that goes over the river in the park. You could see many of the cuts and scratches on their backs from boat strikes. A lot of them had babies.  The one in the above picture had algea growing on her back.

I liked this shot with the reflection of the palm tree in the water.

I took this with my phone since he was right along the dock.

At the underwater viewing area the fish were close to the glass.

 

Yummy fish for breakfast

I was walking down Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve recently when I saw this great blue heron walking in front of me with a big fish.

I froze thinking he would take off but he just stopped and played with his snack for a while. I’m not sure if he was waiting for the fish to stop wiggling or he was just trying to get a good angle to swallow it. He jumped down into the water right before he swallowed it but he got it down whole.

Starting vacation

The Monday before Thanksgiving I headed to the airport to pick up my sister who was coming to spend the week with us. I had a few minutes before she got off the plane so I snapped the above of this beautiful tree near her concourse. Even though it was a bit early, it still put me in the vacation spirit.

It was beautiful outside so after lunch we headed over to Clearwater beach. It’s always fun being a tourist in my own town when she comes to visit. We ended up at the Clearwater marina later that afternoon and watched the fishing boats come in (it was something we use to do with our parents when we were growing up and came here to visit our grandparents).

We decided to stay for sunset even though the clouds were moving in quickly. The sky looked like it was on fire as the sun went down. While we were there we thought we might as well have dinner on the beach too. A great way to start the week.

My Corner of the World

Fishing on the fishing pier

One of the fun things about walking around on the fishing pier besides fishing, is watching the birds steal the bait fish. The snowy egrets get in squabbles over the tiny fish.

All lined up, waiting for someone to pull up a bait net full of fish.

This great blue heron had already eaten and was wiping his beak on the light.

Cruising by with the big boats in the background.

The guy who owned this rolling bucket was not paying attention. He had some fish already in there but left it open and walked farther down the pier to pull up another net full of bait fish. The snowy egrets and great egrets were having a feast until he came back.

 

It was too early for manatees.

The water at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park was so clear you could see the fish.

We had a small cold spell in mid-November and I headed up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park hoping to see manatees along the boardwalk at the park. They congregate in the springs along the park in the winter where the water stays fairly warm. The morning I was there the river was void of wild manatees. The only ones I saw were the 2 living there that were rehabilitating at the park. They were right up against the boardwalk so it was great to see them up close. I think I was just too early for the wild ones to have made their way to the springs.

The otters were so cute that morning. The vultures were hanging out in their exhibit and driving them crazy.

The view from the boardwalk.

Still hot in October.

Busy little birds at Bok Tower Gardens. A black and white warbler, a titmouse (with a nut), a red eyed vireo and a female redstart were the only migrating birds I could find in mid-October. I realized as I was running around in the woods at Bok Tower why fall migration is much harder than spring migration. The birds are more scarce in the fall and it’s just too hot to be running around looking for tiny birds high up in the trees. Here in central Florida in the spring, if you are lucky to be out on a day when there are a lot of birds around, at least the weather is usually cooler. On this morning in October it was 85 degrees by 9:30 and the humidity was brutal. It takes a lot of patience to wait for these little birds to come down from the tops of the trees and it’s hard to be dripping in sweat. With that said, it was still a fun morning out even if I only saw a few birds.

Beauty in the pond.

A grasshopper high up in the tree. He caught my eye while I was watching a hummingbird on the other side of the tree.

I was taking a break on a bench when this little squirrel came up to me. He looks like he had a bot fly problem this summer. He should be okay though.

Reflections on the pond.

Looking down on the pond, the fish were waiting for a handout.

My Corner of the World

 

Upclose with the fish.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota is more than just a bunch of fish in tanks. They are a “nonprofit marine research institution comprised of world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education.” They do a lot of work with injured marine life and study the impact of red tide. While my sisters were here visiting over Thanksgiving weekend, we drove down to Sarasota (a little more than an hour from my house in Tampa) to visit the aquarium, have lunch somewhere fun and stop by the outlet mall on the way home. It was a busy day. It was fun seeing all of the fishies to start the morning.