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.

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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.

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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.

Another great horned owl family

Both parents were close to the nest. Mom out in the open in the top picture. Dad was trying to hide in the moss while napping.

Mom eventually flew down to the nest. She turned her back when she was feeding the little ones so I don’t have a shot of that. After a few minutes she left again, flying to a branch nearby.

The little ones sat quietly for while, watching people walk by.

Someone found a pellet right underneath where the Dad was sleeping. We were trying to figure out what he had eaten.

I ran into some friends who were there walking their dog. They stopped to chat for a while but the dog was ready to go. He wanted to be out running in the park, not sitting under a tree while his owners were talking.

The view of north Tampa bay from the park. The owl’s nest sits in a big oak tree in the middle of a parking lot. It’s a main thoroughfare for joggers and walkers so the area is very busy.

Photographing New Zealand

Growing up in a tree.

One of the great horned owl parents keeping an eye on the nest.

The baby great horned owls are very cute at this age. They were very curious and would bob their heads when a mockingbird or osprey flew by. They spent a long time looking around and then finally facing Mom in the other tree. They eventually dozed off.

Mom didn’t move all morning.

These were all taken in mid-February with my zoom lens and extremely cropped.

What’s for breakfast???

Walking down the trail, heading for the owl’s nest, I spotted a kestrel. Of course I had to stop and take a picture of it. Usually they are so skittish but this one didn’t move.

I made it out to the owl’s nest just in time to catch Mom feeding one of the babies. There were 2 babies, one was hiding on the other side of Mom. Baby great horned owls are not cute until their face catches up with their beaks. The baby seemed to be enjoying his breakfast. Mom was eating some of it as well, including that rabbit ear in the last picture above. Yuk right? But an owl’s gotta eat.

Right in the middle of breakfast, a mockingbird flew in and was brave enough to pretend he was going to steal a bite. Mom chased him off with just a look.

Mom tucked away what was left for breakfast, to be finished at a later time.

She had already fed the younger one before I got there so after feeding the older one they all sat up looking content.

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Fort Desoto in early January

Little birds along the shore at Fort Desoto Park.

Weird sea slugs that were on the sand at low tide. The muck was full of these.

The tide would be coming in soon to wash this guy back into the water.

A very large raft of ducks far out in the water near the Sunshine Skyway bridge. I think these were mostly ring neck ducks.

Scenes from the beach.

In early January I was walking the trails and noticed an owl sitting in an old osprey nest.

Not a bad way to be stuck in traffic. On my way home I got stuck on the bridge for a few minutes while the bridge was up waiting for some tall boats to pass underneath.

SkyWatch Friday

Little birds at the boardwalk.

I’m thinking this is a pine warbler. Fairly common but confusing. Looks like a lot of other female yellow birds.

A very common but pretty white-eyed vireo.

I think this is an immature pine warbler in the 2 above.

Blue headed vireos are becoming common this time of year.

This little chickadee was being too cute. He came down close to the boardwalk looking to see if I had a handout. All of the above were taken at Chesnut Park on a Saturday morning  in early January. Someone had left seed on the boardwalk before I had gotten there and the birds were very active.

On the way home I stopped by another park to see if the owls were nesting again this year. She was up in the nest still on eggs, taking a nap. This couple gets a little later start than most owls in the area.

Linking to My Corner of the World.