On the beach in late July

Out on the beach at Fort Desoto in July, I found a few birds including a laughing gull, a semi palmated plover and a sanderling.

The marbled godwits were busy feeding.

A reddish egret flies in from across the lagoon.

Out on the fishing pier, the birds were lined up waiting for someone to drop their bait fish.

This great egret was looking a little rough. I’m thinking he’s molting.

A cormorant busy preening on the light post.

A ship heading out for a long voyage.

Crazy summer skies

I was heading out to the Dunedin causeway for a walk when this rainbow popped up.

Out on the causeway I could see rain far out in the gulf and I didn’t see any lightning so I started a quick walk but stayed close to the car.

When I got to the nearby bridge I could see rain all around me out in the water but the sun was out over the causeway. Even with the sun out the wind was blowing pretty hard so it stayed cool for my walk.

This great blue heron hangs out under the bridge. There’s usually people fishing under here so he’s hoping for a handout.

There’s a small tree on the causeway that has tropical white morning glory (also know as moonflower) all over it.

Right when I got back to my car most of the rain had moved out and a rainbow came out. I love mornings like these when the sky does crazy things.

SkyWatch Friday

Summer walk on the causeway

I was heading out to the Dunedin causeway for an early morning walk in late June and saw that a baby turtle had been painted on the water tower right before the causeway. I had to turn around and take a quick shot. He’s so cute.

It was crazy hot even at 8am in the morning. I caught the drawbridge going up as I was about to cross it. It was a good spot to take a rest,

The usual great egrets and pelicans were hanging around the short bridge, hoping to steal some bait fish from an unsuspecting fisherman.

A fun bike rack in front of the kayak rental station.

After a long walk at the causeway I headed down to the marina for a quick walk. (I was really just stalling until my favorite lunch pick up place nearby opened at 11am).

Inspire Me Monday

More crazy birds at the rookery

A juvenile night heron sits alone at the front of the rookery. He’s been there on my last 2 visits. They nest deep in the bushes so I can’t see them as little babies.

A snowy egret still flirting.

The cormorants and anhingas nest high up inthe cypress trees so it’s a little harder to see those young babies. As they get older the bigger babies end up down on the rookery and Mom feeds them there. The top one is a cormorant. They have orange curved beaks and hook their fish. The middle shot are both anhingas (male on the left in all black and the female on the right has a brown chest and neck). They have pointed beaks and stab their fish. The juveniles with the great egret in the bottom shot are both anhingas.

A female grackle getting some bugs. They also nest deep in the bushes.

A wood stork getting a drink in the pond.

I saw a tricolored heron fly over to the top of a tree away from the rookery. She’s got food in her beak and she’s trying to get her young one to fly over to be fed. She was yelling at the baby to fly across the pond to her to get food instead of her bringing it to the baby.

The baby eventually flew over and got his meal.

All of the tricolored heron babies that I saw were almost fully grown. They all had their adult colors in their feathers but they still had those baby spikes on the top of their heads and were still squawking for food.

Morning walk around Dunedin

One last look at the purple martins at the Dunedin marina. After this trip in late May they have left the condo. The babies were flying around the marina but still landing back on the nest house to be fed. Next year I’ll have to remember to stop by here earlier before the babies are fully grown.

House sparrows were taking a dirt bath below the purple martin nest box.

After walking around the marina I left and stopped at the nearby long fishing pier at Weaver Park. Looking north I could see the drawbridge up at the causeway bridge. This was a common sight back in the “old days” along the intercoastal waterway. Now as older bridges are being replaced, they build them up high so a drawbridge isn’t necessary anymore. This is one of the last remaining drawbridges in the area.

A few guys were fishing at the end of the pier and this great egret flew in looking for a handout.

After hanging around the fishermen for a while, he must have gotten tired of waiting for a handout and started getting his own snacks.. He was leaning over the floating dock and catching the bugs on the side of the dock to eat. Yum!

A least tern takes a break from diving into the water for his fish.

Earlier that morning when I was walking around the marina, some of the houses close by had these cactus vines growing in their yards. These cactus, night blooming cereas, only bloom at night but I was able to catch a few closing up early that morning. I’ve heard they are really beautiful and smell great when they are in full bloom but I would need to be here around midnight for that.

Inspire Me Monday

Regurgitated sushi for dinner

Wood storks and great egrets were flying into the bird rookery in north Tampa non-stop in late May. They were bringing more nesting material but mostly food for all of those screaming babies. It was loud to stand there in the late afternoon as those big growing babies were ready to eat. And they let everyone know it.

There were still a lot of young wood storks honking for food.

The almost grown baby great egrets were really aggresive. These parents have a tough job. Getting fish, then swallowing that fish, then regurgitating it back up to feed the baby.

If you look closely at the beaks you can see fish parts coming down from the parent’s beak and into the baby’s beak. All while big brother is trying to get a bite as well. That does not look yummy.

Even after they are fed, they still yell for more food.

Riding by the cows

Scenes from my bike ride in late May. Pedaling past cow pastures.

I had my camera in my backpack and had to stop for a shot of the cattle egret with the cow. This is where they get their name. Egrets hanging out with the cattle, trying to eat the bugs that the cows stir up as they eat the grass.

I found the meadowlarks again.

I found several juvenile tree swallows sitting on the fence. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them actually sitting down. They spend most of their time cruising around catching bugs. EDIT: Thanks to Lea’s Menagerie for a correct ID. The above is an eastern kingbird. I’m still learning a lot of the migrating birds. This was late May so it makes sense he could still be hanging around. I think that Florida sun is starting to get to me.

A pond along the cow pasture fence was a busy watering hole.

There are several gopher tortoise holes along the fences but this was the first time I have seen one out of his hole. They are listed as Threatened in Florida and both the tortoise and their burrows are protected by law.

Morning walks at the marina

The Dunedin marina area is one of my new favorite places to walk in the mornings. Even though it’s miserable hot, there’s usually a breeze here on the water. During the week, before 9am, it’s pretty quiet and easy to get a good parking spot.

Two juvenile osprey were trying to catch some food. After a while they both ended up on the same tree on the water’s edge.

This anhinga had no problem catching her fish. I think she was showing it off.

Juvenile house sparrows were digging in the sand for bugs to eat.

I found these fuzzy plants on a fence near the water. It looked like cotton but a month later I would find out what they were. More to come on these.

A great egret ready to take off.

Inspire Me Monday

Early May at the rookery

I made another trip to the bird rookery in north Tampa in early May. While there were already a lot of babies, the wood storks were still flirting.

The baby great egrets were the loudest, yelling at Mom to feed them.

A young tricolored heron trying to fly. I love the wire looking feathers on their heads.

Young anhingas were high up in the cypress trees.

Birds were constantly flying in and out of the rookery. I was hoping to see cattle egrets or maybe the glossy ibis but I saw neither of them on this trip.

Quiet morning out

It was a quiet morning in early May at Largo Central Park Nature Preserve. I found a baby limpkin hanging out with Mom along the boardwalk. He was so cute, trying to mimic how Mom picks up shells and bangs them open but he didn’t quite have it down yet. He kept picking up empty shells and then ran over to Mom and started whining to be fed.

Later on the other side of the preserve I found another limpkin getting a snack.

A tricolored heron was skipping around over the water trying to catch some tiny fish (or maybe some tiny bugs). Using his wings, it looked like he was walking on water.

A great egret lands on the other side of the pond.

The magnolia trees were in full bloom.