Foggy start to the morning

Walking out on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve, the fog was just starting to lift.

On the other side of the marsh, the sun was trying to break through.

Great blue herons in the fog.

A few critters along the trail. That big one always sleeps in that same spot across the ditch.

Lots of the usual birds along the trail.

A bright red flash of fall in the moss. It usually starts to look like fall around here in January.

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Vultures and strawberries!

Not much to see on an early morning walk at Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa in late January. Not many birds but tons of turkey vultures hanging around.

You can really tell it’s winter here with all of the leaves gone from the cypress trees that line the lake. And by winter, I mean I didn’t need more than a long sleeve tshirt to keep me warm.

Before heading home, I stopped at Medard Park to see if there was anything there since I hadn’t been in a long time. It was quiet there as well. A great blue heron preening was all that I could find.

Medard Park is in Plant City, in the middle of “strawberry” country.  Hillsborough county produces around 15% of the nation’s strawberries with over 11,000 acres. Chances are if you are eating strawberries in the winter, they came from here. There’s a farm right outside of the park and I pulled over for a few minutes and took a couple of shots of the almost-ready berries.

This is the view for miles before hitting the highway.

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Birds at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Nested season had already started for the great blue herons at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. Some were just starting to work on nests, some were still showing off for their mate and some were already sitting on eggs.

Resident pelicans.

The permanently injured resident white morph great blue heron was showing his breeding colors in his beak.  The colors were really pretty against his white neck.

A caracara yelling at something. It’s rare to see a caracara in the Tampa bay area so this is a new bird for a lot of people They can usually be found more inland in central Florida. unfortunately this bird is here because he was injured out in the wild and lost a wing.

An eagle with a missing wing.

A wild phoebe flew right in front of me and posed so I had to take his picture.

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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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Critters at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Some of the critters in the water at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park north of Tampa. I made my annual winter trip in mid-January, hoping to see manatees along the river but the weather had warmed up for a few day and the manatees had scattered around the area.

Yes, this guy was on the other side of the glass. You usually see them sleeping in the back with their eyes closed.

It seemed to be mating day that morning. Both pelicans and some wild vultures were getting frisky in the warm weather.

The calm water in the springs.

Visiting Brett’s aunt and the ducks.

Every other Sunday, Brett and I visit his aunt at the nursing home in St. Pete. The weather has been so nice that we spend the time with her hanging out at the duck pond in the parking lot. On a recent Sunday, a little lady came over and fed the ducks while we were there. It looked like seed and cracked corn. All of the birds and ducks came in close and we sat and watched them having their snack.

It was fun watching the duck drama going on.

Later, we moved to another bench and this wood stork walked right up to us. He was hoping we had something to feed him. He watched us for a few minutes and then left. I only had my phone with me so all of the above were taken with that.

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Looking for manatees

When my sisters were here over Thanksgiving weekend we went out looking for manatees. The most dependable place to find them is at the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa electric plant on the other side of the bay. The manatees congregate here in the winter months due to the electric plant’s discharge canal where the water that cools the electric plant is sent back out into the bay warm and clean. I’ve been there before over the years when you could see hundreds of manatees near the boardwalk but this time there were none. You could see a few far out in the canal but they just looked like bumps floating in the water. We would have been crushed if we hadn’t seen the below the day before.

Another reliable place to see manatees (and much closer to my home) is the Safety Harbor fishing pier. We were out running around one afternoon and stopped by on the way home. We counted at least 6 swimming around the pier so we hung out there for a while watching them come up for air.

Linking to My Corner of the World.