Guess what’s for breakfast

Mom was digging around in the nest early one morning in February and pulled up a rat. I’m going to be repetitive about using rat poison. Owls love rats. When people use rat poison the rats don’t die right away. They wander off and the owls pick them up and eat them. Owls can easily die from a rat that has eaten rat poison.  You don’t need to use it. The owls (eagles and hawks as well) will take care of the rats.

I spent a good part of the morning waiting for the baby owls to wake up and then  watching Mom taking turns feeding the babies.  Doesn’t that look yummy!?!  It was an overcast day, I was using my long lens and these are extremely cropped up so they aren’t quite as clear as I would have liked. But that’s okay. I’d rather be standing half way across the beach than too close. I didn’t make it back out later to see these little ones completely grown. On a sad circle of life note, I heard that one went missing and a team of people spent all morning looking for it. They think it may have fallen during the night. The area has a lot of coyotes that we don’t see during the day so one of them or an eagle could have gotten it.

Bok Tower Gardens

Even though chipping sparrows are not rare, I don’t see them often.

I found a female ruby throated hummingbird feeding in the english garden at Bok Tower Gardens in late February. It almost looks like she was molting around her face.

I was standing on the path for a while under a pine tree waiting for the hummingbird to come back to the flowers and someone walked by and said “Look at the owl over your head”. I didn’t even notice him when I walked up earlier. I’m glad he didn’t poop on me!

Butterflies and flowers in the garden near the bell tower.

The door to the courtyard at the historic house on the grounds. The Pinewood Estate is closed for now but you can still walk around the grounds.

I found the Fairy Garden on this visit. I usually don’t venture into the children’s garden there but it was a quiet morning so I wandered in to see if there were any good birds back there. I loved the big oversize nest and the little houses made from nature. It’s so creative.

My Corner of the World

Spring is here

Trying to get a shot of an inchworm hanging from a tree is like trying to bite an apple hanging from a tree with your hands tied behind your back (I remember doing this as a kid at Halloween parties).  The trees were full of these guys dangling and swaying back and forth in the wind. It’s not a sharp shot but you get the drift.

They were crawling around in the weeds as well. Every year in early March they take over a few of the parks here in the Tampa bay area. Harmless but annoying when they get in your hair.

The inchworms where hanging in the tree that is home to the owls at a local park. Dad was in his usual spot overlooking the big tree.

My first baby owl sighting of the year. He looks a little grumpy, like he just woke up. It was late in the day when I got to the park. The babies were just waking up from a nap and were ready for a snack.

Mom flew up to a branch over the nest.

The babies were watching Mom and one was climbing up the tree trying to get closer to her. Did I say “babies”? There were actually 3 and I eventually got pictures of all of them together but more on those later.

I was sitting at a traffic light on the way home and noticed an inchworm on the inside of my window. He had the nerve to poop on my window and leave a trail. When I got home I got him out and put in on a bush.

Cuteness overload

A few days earlier I noticed two little squirrels hanging out of a hole in a tree near the owl’s nest. When I came back to check on the owls, I saw 4 squirrel babies hanging out of the nest. They were in a highly visible spot and everyone was going crazy over the cute babies hanging out of the tree.

Two of them kept slipping back into the hole. One of them climbed up to the top of the hole but then he quickly scrambled back down. Trying to be brave but realizing that it’s a big scary world out there.

Mom came in and brought some food. I couldn’t quite tell what he was eating.

He was so cute covering his mouth while he chewed. Probably didn’t want his siblings to try and steal it.

After Mom left, these two were busy preening each other.

The squirrels eventually went back into hiding, probably to nap so it was back to paying attention to the owls. Those baby squirrels had better hide from this guy who was only one tree over. He has babies to feed as well.

My Corner of the World

A brave Mom defending her babies.

It was drizzling on and off in early February when I first caught a glimpse of the baby great horned owls at Fort Desoto. The two babies huddled together and Mom stayed with them on the nest when I first got there.

After the rain stopped and the sun was trying to peak out, Mom flew over to a tree across the trail. Looks like she was trying to wake up and stretch.

The black hooded parakeets were flying by, being loud and annoying. The owl paid little attention to the parakeets buzzing around.

All of a sudden Mom sits up and looks at something close by the nest.

We all turned around to see what Mom was looking at. An eagle had quietly landed on a branch right near the nest. The eagle started screaming and Mom flew off the nest and chased the eagle away. It all happened so fast that I did not even got a shot of the confrontation.

After chasing the eagle off, Mom came back and landed on the nest. This time she stayed on the nest for a while. The baby popped his head up for a few seconds then went back to sleep. It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow up.

My Corner of the World

Great old trees

I had a quick walk at my local pond in early February. It was a quiet morning. Just me and the anhinga watching me take a picture of her.

The glossy ibis was still there.  Maybe they’ll stay permanently.

A teeny critter flying around the clovers.

I stopped by another park close by to check on the owls. Mom was half asleep and there was no sign of babies. I had heard there were two but both were sleeping far down in the nest all morning (later there 3 babies so stay tuned for baby owl shots).

This squirrel had a mouthful as he was running across the parking lot.

The big oak tree where the owls nest. We had heard from a ranger that they were taking this tree down later this year. They say it’s getting rotten inside and could fall on a car or worse a person. Several trees nearby have come down in bad storms. It still looked solid to us. Everyone was freaking out and talking about signing a petition to keep the tree up but if it’s dangerous, it’s coming down. The ranger said the owls will find another tree.

The view near the parking area.  There are a lot of great trees in this park.

One of my favorite trees in the park. It’s cool to see the limbs growing along the ground. The first shot is a pano taken with my phone.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

 

Are there babies yet?

The trees were still bright red in early February, showing a pop of color across the pond.

The usual birds were still at Possum Branch Preserve. A grebe and a tricolored heron were easy to photograph.

We had a new visitor to the pond. A few glossy ibis showed up. It’s the first time I’ve seen a glossy ibis in this part of Pinellas county and the first I’ve heard of one being at this pond. They were pretty skittish but one let me get some good shots when I hid behind the tree. He was busy eating the pond bugs.

I stopped by a nearby park to see if the great horned owls were still nesting. It was quiet this morning and the other photographers there thought there were babies but no one has seen them yet. I was thinking it was a little early anyway. When I got home and cropped up the shot of the mom sleeping in the nest, I could just make out some white fuzz under her chin so there was at least one baby in the nest. It was going to be a while before we really got to see anything.

Dad was on a branch farther up the tree.

Some cute little squirrels were hiding in a tree nearby.

More shots to come of the baby owls and those cute little squirrels from a later trip.

My Corner of the World

All grown up

At the end of February I was able to stop by the owl nest and see the baby almost grown up. He was still pretty fuzzy but was looking more like an adult.

One of the parents was always close by.

Then in mid-March I stopped by again and the baby was looking all grown up. Almost as big as his parents. He was very curious, always looking around at the sounds of the birds and squirrels going by.

The morning was so nice that I hung around the park watching the fishing boats go by. This one was pulling up bait fish and getting followed by the pelicans looking for a handout.

The old trees in the park near the nest have a lot of personality.

It was the beginning of a great weekend.

SkyWatch Friday

It’s baby owl season.

Some shots of the parent high up in the tree.

Mom was sitting low in the nest.

In late February I stopped by a park nearby to see if any baby owls were born.  I could see the mom in the nest and I had heard there was at least one baby but I couldn’t see anything. Finally, right before leaving, the baby popped it’s head up for a few minutes. Maybe a week old at this point.

I stopped by the nest for a quick peak a few days later and the baby was sitting up higher in the nest and looked much older at this point. For the last several years this couple has had 2 babies. Not sure why this is an only child this year.

Nearby this squirrel was hiding in a hole in a tree. I wonder if he’s building a nest in there.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkupOur World Tuesday Graphic

Almost grown up

One of the parents keeping an eye on the kids.

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

“Big brother, you better come down from there. Mom’s here with breakfast.”

“Lady, are you going to watch us eat?”

“I guess he’s not coming down so we’ll eat without him.”

“Yum”

 

The older baby had climbed to the very top of the tree and was sleeping in the moss so the youngest was all alone on the nest.  Mom came down for a while and fed it. Not sure what they were eating, rabbit or squirrel?

“Peek A Boo” from the other side of the tree.

They grow up so fast. These were taken in late March, the last time I saw the babies on the nest. Not long after this the oldest was already moving to other trees. Hopefully we’ll see new babies next winter.