First time baby sighting

You don’t see many glossy ibis in the Tampa Bay area. For years the only place I saw them was at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland but in recent years I’ve seen a few on this side of the state. Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa was another place I would see them. Recently there has been one hanging out at the nearby Possum Branch Preserve but it’s hit or miss to see it there. Last year I saw one at the bird rookery in north Tampa but I didn’t see any babies. This year there were several adults there and on my last visit in late May I saw babies.

They nest on the back side of the rookery so there’s no way to see the babies until they are juveniles and moving around on the rookery. There were 2 families there with the parents feeding them all over the rookery. They would fly off to get food and the juveniles would travel all over the bushes. The parents always seemed to find their own babies when they got back.

 

One of the juveniles was old enough to fly down into the pond and get some water. He didn’t have the deep burgandy color on his face but his green feathers on his wings were beautiful.

They were patiently waiting for Mom to come back with food. Some were practicing their wing flaps and hopping.

Deep in the bushes I could just barely see a much younger set of twins.

I’m hoping next year we’ll see even more of these beautiful birds at the rookery.

Baby bird season

I headed up to the bird rookery in north Tampa in early April. I knew it was a little too early for a lot of babies but it was a nice afternoon out and this is an afternoon shoot spot since the sun comes up across the lake in the morning.  Great egrets were in all stages of nesting. Some had eggs, some had small babies and some looked like they were still flirting and working on nests.

There were at least 2 nests up front with baby wood storks. They look so pretty when they are babies with that orange beak and blue around their eyes. Woods storks are listed as a threatened species since their numbers are still small and are vulnerable to changing water levels. We are fortunate that they are a common bird in the Tampa bay area. I see them at many of the parks I visit as well as in the ponds in my neighborhood.

Birds were busy flying in and out of the rookery, bringing food to the babies and adding sticks to the nest. I was able to catch a great egret and a tricolored heron going by.

A tricolored heron was picking up sticks from the water and bringing them back to a hidden nest.

A rare thing to see in the Tampa bay area. It looks like some glossy ibis have been nesting here in the last few years. The nest is on the back side of the island so I haven’t seen any babies yet. For a long time I only saw them at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland but I’ve seen a few here lately.

Flying across the trail

I walked out on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in mid-March and saw this. Lots of wading birds out in a small pond that had developed from the recent rain.

So many birds feeding in this one spot. Great egrets, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, great blue herons, wood storks, spoonbills and one large sandhill crane.

All of a sudden the sandhill crane took off across the marsh.

Glossy ibis were flying across the trail.

Spoonbills were flying in and out of the pond all morning. At one point one flew so close I couldn’t fit him all in and he was carrying a stick. He must have been heading for a nest.

Typical sight along the trail. A great blue heron in a dead snag.

Far out in the lake, a great egret sits alone.

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The bird rookery

Catching a little blue heron lift off.

Snowy egrets were showing off.

Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.

The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.

The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.

There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.

Out and about

“Why did the butterfly cross the road???”

The glossy ibis has been hanging around Possum Branch Preserve for a while now.

The green heron was creeping around under the bushes.

I found the bluebird family again. One of the young ones was popping his head out of the nest. He’s flying around now so I’m not sure if the parents are still feeding him.

Oh the faces we see in a Florida pond!

I stopped by the old Kapok Tree in mid-March. It still had a lot of blooms on the tree but most of them were on the ground. I keep forgetting to go by here and catch it in full bloom. Back when I was a toddler there was a famous restaurant here called the Kapok Tree Inn. It was an old ornate building with lots of different rooms. We would come here to eat when we came to Clearwater to visit my parents. It closed in 1991 but the building is still here and is a music store. It still looks the same inside.

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Great old trees

I had a quick walk at my local pond in early February. It was a quiet morning. Just me and the anhinga watching me take a picture of her.

The glossy ibis was still there.  Maybe they’ll stay permanently.

A teeny critter flying around the clovers.

I stopped by another park close by to check on the owls. Mom was half asleep and there was no sign of babies. I had heard there were two but both were sleeping far down in the nest all morning (later there 3 babies so stay tuned for baby owl shots).

This squirrel had a mouthful as he was running across the parking lot.

The big oak tree where the owls nest. We had heard from a ranger that they were taking this tree down later this year. They say it’s getting rotten inside and could fall on a car or worse a person. Several trees nearby have come down in bad storms. It still looked solid to us. Everyone was freaking out and talking about signing a petition to keep the tree up but if it’s dangerous, it’s coming down. The ranger said the owls will find another tree.

The view near the parking area.  There are a lot of great trees in this park.

One of my favorite trees in the park. It’s cool to see the limbs growing along the ground. The first shot is a pano taken with my phone.

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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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Lake Morton and Circle B Bar Reserve

I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while.  I had taken the above in early December.

Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.

This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.

It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.

Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.

I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.

Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk.  I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.

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Driving along Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

A green heron was all alone with his reflection.

Some of the wintering ducks at the wildlife drive include a blue winged teal couple, a female northern shoveler and a grebe.

The coots seemed to be in couples all over the drive.

A glossy ibis in the bur marigolds.

Some of the smaller birds include a flicker and many blue gray gnatcatchers.

I got out of the car and was walking around watching the ducks when this kingfisher flew right by.

Shooting right into the sun, the marsh looked like it had a layer of gold on top. Those tiny black dots were coots which were all over the place. It really looked like winter on my drive in late December with all of the leaves off the trees and bushes here. The wildlife drive is just north of Orlando and is a little hike from my house so I don’t get here often. It’s been worth the drive recently since I was trying to stay off my hip due to hip bursitis at the end of last year.

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Blue and purple

I rarely see bluebirds in the parks near my house. I’m sure they are around but I never seem to see them. I didn’t expect to see one singing on a dead pine tree at Possum Branch Preserve. This was a treat watching him pouring his heart out across the marsh.

The lone glossy ibis was still there, showing off his colors in the sunlight.

I looked down in the marsh and saw this. What was this purple gallinule doing?

Then I realized another one was coming out of the reeds and they started playing “leap frog” in the marsh. Those big yellow feet were such a contrast on top of her back. They did it twice before taking off in different directions. By now somewhere in that marsh is a purple gallinule nest. Here’s to hoping to see babies soon.

There’s always a lot of white peacock butterflies and bunnies here.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters