Baby eagles flapping their wings.

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“Am I doing this right?”

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“Is this the standard eagle pose?”

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“Do these wings make my butt look big?” (says the baby eagle if it’s a she).

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“Man, the chicks are gonna dig these.” (says the eagle if it’s a guy.)

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“I have lift off.”

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“Quiet down, I’m trying to sleep.”

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“Kids!”

Above is a short video of the baby eagle flapping his wings. I stopped by the nest on a cold windy day in mid-February. Both babies looked good. By now they are around 2 months old? I’m not sure when they hatched. Only when I could see them peeking over the nest so they could be close to 3 months old.  By now they are flying far away.

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Breakfast with a limpkin family

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I turn the corner to head down Marsh Rabbit Run trail and see the above standing in the middle of the trail. He didn’t seem spooked by me.

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In fact, he walked right by me. That’s my shadow. I’ve never seen them this close before. Then I realized there were 3 others close together in the ditch below the trail. They all came up on the trail and I realized it was a family. Two parents and two almost grown babies. This was one of the late summer families.

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They all seemed very relaxed as I sat down on the trail and watched them.

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One of the parents brought up a snail from the ditch.

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The smaller one ran under mom and waited while she dug out the meat.

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Then the parent ate one herself. Doesn’t that look yummy?

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The other juvenile got fed.

What a way to start the walk down the trail. I sat there for about 20 minutes watching them bring up snail after snail. This has to be the most tame family in the park. A crowd of photographers started to gather behind me and we were all amazed that they didn’t seem bothered by us. After a while the family went back down into the ditches and headed out into the marsh. I headed down the trail to see what I could find but nothing else could match that.

Flying penguins in Florida???

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I get to the City Pier and see my first razorbill as it pops up from under the pier.

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He was chasing after the little minnows.

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Down again after that last bite.

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Giving me the eye.

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All wet.

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All morning they kept feeding around the pier.

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After an hour, they went cruising down the beach. We (a big group of photogs) followed them.

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Safety in numbers?

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Bye, bye.

The first post of a razorbill sighting in Florida was around 12/7. By 12/14, razorbills had been seen at the piers at Anna Maria Island, which is about an hour south of me. Soon the Florida bird forums were flooded with sightings of them all over Florida including the gulf coast. With it being right before Christmas and me working in retail, I could not get down there before leaving for Atlanta to spend the holidays with the in-laws. We drove back from Atlanta late Wednesday night and I immediately packed up to drive down early the next morning to find them. Hubby had to go to work and was like “Why don’t you sleep in?”. I said “No way, I gotta go find those razorbills.” Luckily, they were still hanging around and may still be there until spring.

This is a rare bird in Florida. Only 14 sightings on the east coast in the history of recording bird sights. No one knows the real reason they came this far. They usually spend their summers no more south than North Carolina. Some wonder if hurricane Sandy messed up their feeding grounds and they headed farther south for food. But to be on the west coast, they had to swim down around the keys and back up the gulf. People are worried about how they will make it back home. Do they know to go back south the way they came or are they going to try to go north up to the panhandle and get stuck there in the winter? They usually don’t migrate over land so it’s not known if they will fly across.

The sightings of this bird rare to Florida has even made the local news Razor bill article.

I spent about 3 hours watching a small group of razorbills swim around the two piers there along with a large group of photographers and bird watchers. As I was leaving, I heard a young girl yell “Look at the penguins. I didn’t think there were penguins in Florida.”

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Eagles, butter butts and crabs on my walk

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This is the first American robin I have seen in Florida. All of my other sightings have been in Atlanta.

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Marsh wren or sedge wren? I’m going with marsh since they are more common although there have been sightings of the sedge in central Florida recently.

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Yellow rumped warbler (or butter butts as some people call them)

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Tricolored heron walking in the grass beds at low tide.

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The eagle couple together near the nest. By now there are eggs (hopefully). I haven’t heard yet if the Honeymoon Island couple are officially on eggs yet but most others here in central Florida are. It was dark and cloudy when I first got to the park.

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The sun eventually came out right before I left.

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The tide was low and crabs were everywhere at the north end of the trails.

A few things I saw on my late November walk at Honeymoon Island.

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Cool birds on my Thanksgiving walk – Skywatch Friday

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Blast-off of white ibis. We were quietly standing on the trail watching a group of ibis feeding in a small pond. All of a sudden they all took off. I didn’t see if maybe an eagle flew by or maybe an alligator popped up and spooked them.

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There were a few glossy ibis in the white ibis crowd. I’ve been seeing more glossy ibis here each year.

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Limpkin has a snack.

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These little grebes have the cutest faces. They almost look like a cartoon character.

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We found this anhinga sitting on a log beating it’s lunch before trying to eat it. We watched him bang this poor fish for a few minutes.

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Blue-gray gnatchers were everywhere, teasing us in the trees.

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I catch an eagle flying past me.

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We left Alligator Alley and came out to the open field before heading down Shady Oaks trail to head back to the parking lot. White pelicans were circling overhead. This one got too close and I didn’t even have time to zoom back in.

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We could see hundreds of white pelicans on the other side of the large lake. Hopefully, they’ll stay for the winter. This was highly cropped. You can see a few cormorants in the front floating with them. I’m sure they are wondering why these big white pelicans invaded their quiet lake.

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The skies were full of them circling overhead.

While everyone else was shopping on Thanksgiving weekend, I dragged my friend Pam out to Circle B Bar Reserve on Saturday morning. It was my first official trip for the fall season this year. I hit the trails back in late September but it was too hot and quiet then. This is my 4th year walking the trails there and in some ways a lot has changed. Everything is much more overgrown and there is a lot less water in the ponds. It feels like there’s a lot less birds there but maybe it’s because all of the birds were so new to me then and I paid attention to everything. It’s still a magical place and I plan to head out there often until next summer.

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Storms on the way home – Skywatch Friday

This crazy Florida weather. One minute it’s beautiful and the next is all above. I was driving across the bridge on the way home from work and could see the rain all around the bay. Everywhere but where I was driving. Luckily, I had my camera in the car. I was going to go for an after work hike but I could see it raining where I was headed. So, I stopped on the access road on the causeway and snapped a few storm pictures before I made it home. There was no lightning this night. My goal this summer is to get some lightning pictures in the bay. We’ll see.

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Black neck stilt with his reflection

These were taken a few weeks ago at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.  The black necked stilts usually stay far away from the trails. In the past, I have only seen them way out across the marsh. For some reason on this morning, one of them was feeding very close to the trail. Right in front of the main intersection. He stayed busy not paying attention to the long line of photographers taking pictures of him. He kept getting closer and closer.  I was glad it was a nice clear morning and not a ripple on the water.

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