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.
A northern parula going for a mulberry at Possum Brand Preserve. This is one of two trees there but only one blooms in the fall.
I’m not sure what the second picture is. I thought it was a red eyed vireo like the 3rd one but the yellow around the eyes is throwing me off.
Yellow-rumped warblers are pretty easy to spot. Mostly drab colors but that pop of yellow on his backside gives him away.
A house wren with a teeny snack in his beak. These guys are usually pretty shy and stay deep in the bushes but this one popped out for a minute.
The grebes are always looking up. Ready to take a dive if a hawk flies by.
The anhinga was across the pond but I managed to catch him with his catch.
After leaving Possum Branch I headed for a quick walk at Chesnut Park. I found a purple gallinule at the end of the dock there. Last year a pair had babies there in the spring so hoping for another crop this year.
I spotted this great blue heron with breakfast.
At the beginning of January, if finally looked like winter at the pond at Chesnut Park. The bald cypress leaves had fallen and blanketed the pond with brown and orange.
At Possum Brand Preserve, some of the cypress trees still had their leaves but they were already brown.
Some of the wintering ducks at the wildlife drive include a blue winged teal couple, a female northern shoveler and a grebe.
The coots seemed to be in couples all over the drive.
A glossy ibis in the bur marigolds.
Some of the smaller birds include a flicker and many blue gray gnatcatchers.
I got out of the car and was walking around watching the ducks when this kingfisher flew right by.
Shooting right into the sun, the marsh looked like it had a layer of gold on top. Those tiny black dots were coots which were all over the place. It really looked like winter on my drive in late December with all of the leaves off the trees and bushes here. The wildlife drive is just north of Orlando and is a little hike from my house so I don’t get here often. It’s been worth the drive recently since I was trying to stay off my hip due to hip bursitis at the end of last year.
Some of the ducks at Crescent Lake Park near downtown St. Pete. That grebe was here in June. He should have been up north for the summer. Maybe some of the grebes stay all year round. Normally they are only here in the winter.
The wild parakeets nest in the water tower near the park. I was able to catch them right along the lake in the trees and feeding right on the ground.
Other usually birds at the park.
Checking me out. No snacks for him.
A beautiful tree across the street.
Views from the park. I always love this view. Seeing the fish water tower in front of the few tall buildings in downtown St. Pete. As I’m coming around the corner at the far end of the park I always remember to turn around.
Anhingas are like clowns. They have the funniest personalities, that is when they are not half asleep drying their wings out. They sway their head back and forth and honk when you walk by. The males have a black neck and the females have a brown or beige neck. I think that last one was yawning.
Egrets along the trail. A snowy, cattle and a great egret in the last one above.
Other birds along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early January were a limpkin looking for food, a grebe doing his yoga stretch, a glossy ibis glowing in the sun and a hawk looking out over his domain.
And one of the hundreds of blue-gray gnatcatchers.
This little moorhen was walking along the trail with someone.
Cormorants and anhingas drying off in the sun. The first bird in the top picture is an anhinga. The rest are cormorants. Anhingas have a straight beak and spear their fish. Cormorants have a curved beak and hook their fish.
Threes a crowd.
All taken at Lake Morton and Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland. The small lakes are just a few minutes apart so it’s easy to do quick walks around both before heading home.
The barred owls have been hanging out next to the parking lot for a while now.
The reserve is full of green herons. They are now a usual suspect.
Along with male anhingas showing off.
And the glossy ibis sparkling in the sun are a dime a dozen.
The cute pied grebes aren’t as skittish as they use to be.
There’s always snowy egrets in a body of water.
Now I see purple gallinules every time I walk Alligator Alley trail.
Even a great blue heron baby in the nest during spring is common here.
Seeing a bald eagle somewhere in the park is pretty common, even if its way up high half hidden in a cypress tree.
But I still love walking the trails at Circle B Bar Reserve and seeing all of the above every time I’m here. Even when it gets crowded on the weekends. I just get there a little earlier and leave before lunch when the crowd starts coming in.
The lake was full of coots down from the north for the winter.
This guy was right over my car. I took this hanging out the window.
“Stop lady, don’t drive into the lake” said the great blue heron.
The black bellied whistlers near the end of the drive stayed far out in the marsh.
This lady anhinga had a big gulp.
These big guys were all along the drive. I stopped the car and got out to take these but they were actually across the water.
There’s a lake north of Orlando that has a driving trail along the north shore. I decided to take my sister up there when she was here over the holidays. It was a good way to get out with doing a lot of walking. She had foot surgery recently so she wasn’t up for a long walk. We drove an hour and a half on the Saturday after Christmas to get there early that morning. At first there wasn’t too many cars there but the closer to lunch it got, the more cars were on the drive. I did see a few more birds than the ones above but only got distant blurry shots of a northern harrier, several bald eagles, a merlin and lots of tiny birds far out in the marsh.