Saturday morning walk

Was he chewing on a four leaf clover?

A pop of yellow from a yellow rumped warbler. After a quick walk around Possum Branch on Saturday morning in mid-January, I headed home but stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier for a quick walk on the pier.

It was a quiet morning at the fishing pier.

The bright red beaks on the ibis stuck out on this drab morning.

The grackles were picking snacks off the oyster bed.

 

Pigeons are like snowflakes. No two are alike. There’s always a large flock of them at the Safety Harbor fishing pier. It was interesting to see how many different color patterns they had.

A new bird that looks like an old bird

I had heard of the gray headed swamphen that you could find down in south Florida but hadn’t heard until recently that they are moving into central Florida. This bird originates from southeast Asia. The audubon thinks that many escaped captivity from a zoo during Hurricane Andrew years ago. It looks a lot like the purple gallinule but has an all red nose and his legs are pink vs. the yellow legs on a purple gallinule. Two had been seen at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive so I headed over in late December.  The pair were easily seen right at the beginning of the drive. I pulled over and jumped out the car and walked over and spent a while watching them. It felt freezing this morning. I had a warm hoody on with sweats but had not brought my gloves since I didn’t think it would be that cold. I finally got back in the car and the temp read 39 degrees on my car. It had gotten colder since driving up from Tampa. What was I thinking?? Not prepared for this cold morning.

I managed to catch one of the swamphens catching a tiny fish. He walked over to the vegetation and ate his breakfast there.

He kept cruising back to the water, running off any other birds in his way including a grackle and a coot.

It was interesting to watch him pull up the vegetation with his foot and then use his foot to eat it. He used both feet to do this. I’m assuming he’s eating the seed pods in the water.  The couple were busy feeding for a while. They eventually ventured farther in the reeds and disappeared after an hour of feeding.

The morning did warm up and I was able to get out along the drive to enjoy the beautiful morning out. Just like the comical purple gallinules, the swamphen was fun to watch.

Swamphen on the left and a purple gallinule on the right. Subtle differences are the all red beak (the purple has a light blue spot on his head) and the legs are different colors.

My Corner of the World

Dinner time at Possum Branch Preserve

Across the pond I could see this osprey hovering, looking for fish.

Eventually he splashed down and got a fish but took off in the other direction.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, an anhinga was having trouble getting his big catch down. He eventually swallowed it in one big gulp.

Another anhinga scored across the pond. It was a busy fishing night right before dark.

This guy was just cruising around.

A few of the other critters on my walk after work.

A very cool tree in the woods.

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Just being outside

In late April, I went out for a walk at Crescent Lake Park. It would be hard to close this park down since it’s really just a small lake with a sidewalk around it in a neighborhood. Although the baseball field was empty and the fenced in dog park area was closed. There were several fitness classes going on in the open grass under the trees. The groups were small and everyone was spread out. Looks like people just moved the gym outdoors.

A female grackle in the reeds.

At first I thought this grackle was just standing on one leg but when he flew up into the tree I realized he was missing a leg.

I cannot seem to get a good shot of the otter there. This time he was coming right at me and I would be shooting right into the sun. He was chewing something in the middle of the lake and then disappeared across the other side of the lake. He’s always so quick and doesn’t stay still for a second. I’ve heard there are several here but I’ve only seen one.

Blooming things along the lake.

This was my “just being outside” shot of the day.

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Critters at Chesnut Park.

Driving into the park, I caught a deer getting a snack in trees.

Creepy little critters.

Cute bigger critters.

Someone had left bird seed along the boardwalk earlier that morning. Only the titmouse and cardinals were eating it.

A few other flying critters including the grackle on the right getting nesting material.

This little common yellowthroat was checking me out. They usually hide deep in the bushes but he was not shy.

Some of the pretty things along the boardwalk.

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The usual things at my usual park.

The deer where feeding at my usual parking spot.

The squirrels being their usual cute self.

The usual birds hanging around the boardwalks.

A usual big fat gator on the bank of the pond. He was well camouflaged at first.

The usual wintering belted kingfisher up in a tree.

A quiet morning at Chesnut Park.

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The usual suspects at Chesnut Park.

Lots of different birds at Chesnut Park in early January but nothing new.

Bigger birds flying overhead.

I was trying to get some shots of the deer on the baseball field, She looked at me for a second and then took off to join her friends who were heading into the woods. Oh wait, that’s why they call them “white-tailed deer”.

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More from my drive along Lake Apopka.

I rarely see baby purple gallinules. They are very skittish. I caught this little one running in between the reeds. Look at those big yellow feet!

The parents were close by.

Two juvenile common gallinules (or moorhens) hanging out.

The only birds I saw along the drive were common ones.

Turkey vultures are also common along the drive but it’s not often you get to see one up close and with a snack.

Young tree swallows perching on the utility wire. It’s rare to see these guys resting.

Another common site along the drive, an anhinga with a fish.

A beautiful morning to be out.

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A hot walk around the lake in August.

Critters I saw on my walk around Crescent Lake Park.

This big beautiful old banyan tree is fenced off since it is starting to fall apart. It’s still blooming though.

Across the lake. You can barely make out downtown St. Pete behind the painted water tower.

SkyWatch Friday

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

The morning I drove through Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late June the lake was full of wading birds. Great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, little blue herons and lots of alligators. But only at the start of the long drive.

While most of the birds were far out on the lake, there wasn’t a lot of them close to the trails.

There were lots of gators close to the trails including the bottom one that I spotted when I got out of my car to take some pictures. At a place like this, I always look around first before snapping. He wasn’t really as close as this seems, I cropped it up. But it still felt close.

The clouds started moving in. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife in this wildlife park on this particular morning.

Above is a pano of one of the side drives that I took just to get away from the traffic. The only thing I saw was the alligator above with his head poking out of the weeds. Even though I was there early on a Friday morning, the main drive was backed up with cars. There are places to pull over every so often but people tend to block the drive instead of pulling off and getting out to walk around. Patience is an extreme virtue at this park especially when it’s a quiet morning and there’s not a lot of wildlife to take pictures of. I spent half the morning answering emails on my phone. I would just park and walk the entire drive but it’s 11 miles one way and you come out at the other side of the lake. So needless to say, this isn’t one of my favorite places although people who live close by and go frequently get a lot of great pictures. It’s more than an hour from my house so I only go once or twice a year.

SkyWatch Friday