I was finally back out at Circle B Bar Reserve in late January. I hadn’t been since the middle of December. I missed the trails.
The “hot” bird to get at that time was the male northern harrier (or gray ghost as some people called him). I had gotten some extremely far away pictures in December (pin dots really) and was hoping to get a little closer this time. He still stayed far out in the marsh this trip as well but made a few quick passes closer to the trail. He’s cruising along the marsh looking for food (lizards, etc).
I could see a few hogs out in the marsh as well. I call them Oreos since they have the color pattern of Oreo cookies.
I’m not sure what this was. Some type of insect nest on the bushes?
The usual birds were there: woodstork, night heron, blue gray gnatcatcher, yellow rumped warbler and a pied grebe.
They were spraying some type of chemical to get rid of invasive plants. I hate seeing this. Especially here.
Cute squirrel in the parking lot when I got back to my car.
I was out early one morning right before Christmas. My first stop was the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but thought I would do a quick lap around the gardens. The gardens were decorated for Christmas and you could see the lights all over the bushes and trees. I thought this owl statue was cool and would have loved to see it all lit up but I didn’t make it here for the night holiday lights this year.
The usual birds were in the main pond. A green heron at attention, a wood duck (the entire family was floating around the pond) and there were lots of moorhens.
After the botanical gardens, I stopped at nearby Largo Nature Preserve to see if there was anything new. A grebe spent some time preening close to the boardwalk and there have been some northern shovelers there for several weeks now but nothing new or different.
My last stop before heading home wasn’t really a park but the Dunedin marina. I was hoping to see dolphins or manatees hanging around the marina but I didn’t see any on this trip so after walking around for a while it was time to go home for lunch.
Some of the little birds that are often seen at Circle B Bar Reserve are the house wren and common yellowthroat.
We were looking for the yellow billed cuckoo along the trail and someone spotted this summer tanager from across the marsh. It’s the first time I’ve seen one here.
We found the pair of cuckoos but they were doing their best to hide high up in the trees.
The usual birds to find in the water here. A common moorhen taking a bath and the grebes have returned for the winter.
“Mom, pay attention. That lady is watching us.”
“She’s not going to bother us unless she’s willing to wade through alligator infested marsh”
“Okay, so we can relax. It’s been a busy morning eating bugs.”
Later I passed the black bellied whistling duck family (looks like the other parent is here) and the babies were all napping. It’s such a treat to see these babies here since the main trails are closed in the summer. This is a late family for late October.
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.