There are some great benches here at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Right in front of this huge milkweed bush. The bush was covered in monarch caterpillars in mid-March. I sat for a while waiting for butterflies to come by but there wasn’t many flying around this morning.
This squirrel came over and sat near me and started eating something. He was the only interesting thing there so I left and headed over to McGough Park.
I couldn’t find any birds in the area around the turtle ponds and the turtles were already snoozing so I didn’t stay too long here either. I figured at this point I was close to the beach so I decided on a quick stop at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.
The injured pelicans were doing their morning flaps or taking a bath.
I could barely make out the baby great egrets high up in the trees over the exhibits. They had long outgrown the tiny nests they were growing up in but you could still see their pin feathers when they flapped their wings so they were not quite ready to start flying yet.
NIght herons were still sitting on nests although there was a lot of baby ones (the last one in brown and white with orange eyes) all over the sanctuary.
This night heron was showing the way to the shade garden although it’s really just a lot of overgrown mangroves.
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.
Last shots of the baby birds from the bird rookery at Gatorland from May.
The juvenile baby great egrets were fighting with each other waiting for Mom to bring food.
Mom brings back a fish and both babies fight for it.
The sibling that didn’t get the fish was yelling “Where’s my fish?”. Off mom went.
Tricolored herons are always fun to watch. They are really pretty when they are ready to mate. I mean, how many other animals have their legs turn from gray to bright pink in the spring?
Snowy egrets are always making a fuss.
The great egrets were also showing off with those red eyes.
This is a sad story but happens in nature. There was a nest near the boardwalk with three almost grown babies that had apparently been abandoned by the parents. Maybe something happened to the lone parent? Meanwhile, a mean adult snowy egret decided it wanted that nest instead of building her own and she was going to steal it from the babies. She spent all morning trying to push the babies off the nest. One had been poked in the face and was bleeding. The sad thing is that if the original parents did not come back, those 3 babies were probably going to starve. They are too young to feed themselves. They were sticking together and fighting off the intruder. She eventually left that morning but may have come back later to try again. Gatorland won’t interfere because it’s common for this to happen in nature. I’ve seen it happen before in a park where we couldn’t reach the nest. It’s a tough life out there for these birds.
It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and these birds are about to be very busy moms.
There were a few babies in the far back of the wood stork rookery in north Tampa in late March. You can barely make out the fuzz in the back nest. I was a little early for babies but was in the area so I stopped by for a quick visit.
Many of the wood storks were still fighting over nesting spots.
Many were still bringing in sticks to add to the nest.
A few great egrets were also looking for sticks.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there.
The young wood storks have such an intriguing face.
Young cattle egrets and little blue herons starting to use their wings and learn their way around the mangroves.
Great egrets feeding their young go on for a long time. The baby egrets being fed already look like adults. I’m sure the parents are glad when they become empty nesters.
More shots from the bird rookery in north Tampa this summer.
An almost grown great egret scratching. This one must be one of the first ones born at the zoo this spring. He still had just a little bit of baby fuzz on his head.
Very young little blue herons were waiting to be fed.
Baby little blue herons that were a little older but not yet flying. They were in lots of different stages of growing up.
Screaming “Feed Me” in Mom’s ear.
Two baby great egrets still on the nest waiting for a parent to fly in with food.
My favorite part of Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is the bird rookery at the alligator exhibit. It’s much smaller than the one at Gatorland but it’s close to home. The wild birds come in and nest right in front of the exhibit. While all of the kids are oohing and aahing over the alligators I am busy trying to get shots of the baby birds.
Linking to Wednesday Around The World.
A limpkin hiding in the bushes over the lake.
Pretty flowers fill the pond.
This is what cattails look like in the middle of summer.
Great egrets at the park.
The moon was still showing in the morning at Chesnut Park.