A new bird in my backyard

My neighbors planted payaya trees on the side of the house and this little phoebe has been hanging out on the fence in front of the trees. I can see him when I’m working in the back bedroom (which for now is my “work from home” room). One day I got up and grabbed my camera and shot the above through the window. He’s gone for the summer now so I won’t see him again until September or October.

Even though cardinals are common, I don’t see them often at my feeder.

A red bellied woodpecker has been coming to the feeder every day. He’s picking out the peanuts. You can see his red belly in the first picture.

For several weeks we had a grumpy looking great blue heron on our dock or our neighbor’s dock.

This duck couple stops by every couple of days. They nap in our backyard.

A new bird to the backyard. I went outside to put food in the feeder early one morning in February and noticed a small bird sitting on my neighbor’s sailboat mast. Once in a while we get an osprey or red shoulder hawk sitting up there but this bird was much smaller. I realized it was a kestrel and ran inside and grabbed my camera and walked out on the dock and he was still sitting there while I took his picture. Then a crow came by and chased him off. I don’t see kestrels often, usually at Fort Desoto so I was surprised to see him here.

Starlings took over our tree right before dark.

Things in the backyard including some weird fungus growing in our mulch after a long rain. We often get small mushrooms in the grass after a rain but this orange thing was a first. Being the nerd that I am, I looked it up and it’s a columned stinkhorn.  It’s common in Florida in mulch beds and it’s suppose to smell horrible if you break it.  Luckily I left it there and it’s gone now. I wonder if an animal ate it.

I thought this was a new bird

No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one.  I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it.  All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.

The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.

A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.

Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.

A little blue heron found a worm in the water.

Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.

He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).

My Corner of the World

A storm was coming in

Storms were coming on a Saturday morning in mid-February. I still had to get out so I headed down to Fort Desoto and brave the weather (to really look for some owls). The clouds were starting to roll in when I stopped at the bay fishing pier. The wind was blowing so hard that there were no one out fishing. Walking halfway out I saw a common loon all alone. I was hoping he would get closer but he stayed pretty far out.

A great blue heron flying in and landing in front of me.

A cormorant sitting in front of the bridge.

White ibis fly by in front of the clouds.

I headed up to north beach to look for shorebirds but only kiteboarders were there. The sun was trying to peak out but it didn’t for long.

In the other direction, a kite surfer was struggling to stay up.

Back at the gulf pier, the storms were coming in from the south and it started to sprinkle so I pulled my umbrella out of my backpack and walked around a little while longer before heading home in the rain. Even on a dark cloudy day this is a magically place (unless you are just looking to get tan).

SkyWatch Friday

Two parks in one morning.

A northern parula going for a mulberry at Possum Brand Preserve. This is one of two trees there but only one blooms in the fall.

I’m not sure what the second picture is. I thought it was a red eyed vireo like the 3rd one but the yellow around the eyes is throwing me off.

Yellow-rumped warblers are pretty easy to spot. Mostly drab colors but that pop of yellow on his backside gives him away.

A house wren with a teeny snack in his beak. These guys are usually pretty shy and stay deep in the bushes but this one popped out for a minute.

The grebes are always looking up. Ready to take a dive if a hawk flies by.

The anhinga was across the pond but I managed to catch him with his catch.

After leaving Possum Branch I headed for a quick walk at Chesnut Park. I found a purple gallinule at the end of the dock there. Last year a pair had babies there in the spring so hoping for another crop this year.

I spotted this great blue heron with breakfast.

At the beginning of January, if finally looked like winter at the pond at Chesnut Park. The bald cypress leaves had fallen and blanketed the pond with brown and orange.

At Possum Brand Preserve, some of the cypress trees still had their leaves but they were already brown.

SkyWatch Friday

An interesting morning at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

It’s always fun to see lots of robins in the trees. We only see them here briefly in the winter. The trees were full of them at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in late December.

A few of the resident birds. The caracara in the bottom picture is a not a bird you see in this area. They are mostly in south central Florida so it’s interesting to see them here. This one had some type of injury. Possibly missing wing or vision.

The otters were being so cute this morning, although seeing those teeth makes you realize they can be pretty tough. They were feeding in the pond right up against the boardwalk. I love watching them eating while swimming on their backs. That’s a real talent.

I’m sure this happens more than we see out in the wild. The alligator was not fed this bird by the staff. I missed the early action but people saw him grabbing this bird. Based on the pink legs and white wings with a little black, thinking it’s a white ibis that got too close. The alligator was all the way across the pond in the first shot but was swimming fast away from the other alligators who were chasing him trying to steal his snack. He then heading into the far corner right in front of me. Sad but circle of life.

My Corner of the World

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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Nature at the house

A few of the birds that visited our backyard in the recent months. A little blue heron on our dock, a great blue heron on our neighbor’s completed demolished dock (after Hurricane ETA), and the phoebe on our fence. I see the little phoebe almost every day. Maybe because I don’t have dogs he looks for his meals here. He eats flying insects instead of seed so he doesn’t visit my feeder.

The starlings have a nest on my neighbor’s boat lift.

An osprey sitting our a  neighbor’s sailboat mast.

We usually get spotted sandpipers in the winter. They hang out in the muck at low tide.

A few creepy visitors include a mangrove crab and a spiny orb.

Squirrels constantly run across our screened porch which is cute but long term they pull out the screen and tear it up so sometimes we yell at them to get off.

A rainbow in the front yard.

My Corner of the World

A drive along the lake

Everyone was eating breakfast at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late October.

A great blue heron off in the distance.

A young purple gallinule showing off his big feet.

A kingfisher sitting still. I took this from the car since I knew the second I opened that door he would be gone.

A tricolored heron guarding the sign.

A few of the smaller gators along the drive. I never seem to see the really big ones there.

More along the drive. I was having hip pain in late October so I decided to head over to the wildlife drive in Apopka and stay off me feet for a while. I ended up with hip bursitis which has slowed me down for a while in early November. It was taking forever to heal since I can’t seem to sit still very long.

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Backyard visitors in October

Some of the birds visiting my feeder in the backyard. I usually only get house sparrows and blue jays but the woodpecker was fun to see.

The common ground dove was waiting his turn for the feeder. I’ve since redone that hanging plant with mums.

Once in a while I get a cardinal as well.

Other bigger birds cruising by were a little blue heron, a white ibis on my neighbor’s broken dock and a great blue heron. All of the above were taken through the bedroom window.

When I saw the osprey on my neighbor’s sailboat mast, I ran out and took the picture from the backyard. For years there was an osprey that slept on the mast every night but she hadn’t been doing do that for about 2 years. Just recently one has been stopping by for a while during the day. I wonder if it’s the same bird.

Things growing in the yard including the pink muhly grass in front of our screened porch.

Sunset in the back yard.

Usual things at Fort Desoto

Lots of little birds on Outback Key at Fort Desoto. After a morning of looking through all of these little birds for anything unusual with no luck, I headed over the fishing pier to see what was going on there.

My friend TOTO was hanging out near the fishing pier (he is tagged with a band that has TOTO on it). He’s been around for years.

A snowy plover was skipping around in low tide.

Sushi for breakfast.

Pelicans were also diving for their sushi breakfast.

“Whatta you want lady?”

I think that’s a piece of apple in this crow’s beak. At least it’s not a chip.

What is he doing up here? I have never seen a reddish egret hanging around the fishing pier. They are usually feeding along the shoreline.

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