Critters in Lakeland in early March

Out at Circle B Bar Reserve in early March, I was greeted by a tricolored heron and a kingfisher, both flying by.

Green herons are common along the trail but I can’t help but take more pictures of them.

I saw this great blue heron high up in a tree doing a mating dance. They look straight up and bob up and down. It looks like he, or she, was sitting on a nest already. I guess she was ready to start a family.

Here comes another one. Maybe a looking for a mate? She did not want any part of him as she screamed at him.

He flew around in a circle and still came back to land on the same tree. She chased him off so maybe that wasn’t her boyfriend.

I stopped by Lake Morton near downtown Lakeland on the way home. This male black necked swan had already started a family. I saw him walking over to the nest and his mate, a mute swan, left. He checked the eggs out and then sat on them while she went out for a walk (or to look for a snack). The black neck swan had a mate, also a black necked, for several years before she was hit by a car in early 2020.  They were the only pair so now the lone male has taken a mute swan as a mate so it will be interesting to see how those babies turn out.

A blue winged teal taking a nap.

I’ve been told the gray swans here are offspring of mute swans and black swans that had paired up. There are several on the lake.

An anhinga posing for me.

The baby black swans are growing up fast. They looked so cute cuddling together.

A 3 park morning

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.

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Things in the backyard

I was out in the backyard in early September and noticed this mallard trying to eat something that was bobbing in the water. I ran and got my camera and headed down to the dock and realized it was a mango. He was chowing down on it.

After 17 years in our house, we finally had a dragonfly come in. He was flying around for a while. We opened the doors and was waving around a broom and mop and was finally able to shoo him out into the screened in porch. I then opened the porch door and eventually he flew out but not before I was able to get this close up of him. He had a beautiful green color on his head.

Later in the week it was raining. We had a wet green heron hanging out on our dock in the rain and the mallards have been visiting for a while.

Squirrels like to hang out on the top of our down spout when it’s raining to stay dry. I took this through the sliding door and the screen.

We’ve been getting regular visits from 2 female mallards lately. They scrounge around under the bird feeder for fallen seed. One morning I looked out the window and realized they had brought friends. We also get ibis on a regular basis.

Looking out the side window from my desk, I see a dove sitting on the fence. Later a little blue heron was on our neighbor’s shed.

Taken through the window, this lizard had the cutest toes.

Sunset from the backyard.

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Grabbing my camera

I was peeking out the bedroom window to see if it was raining and saw this green heron hop up on the dock with a fish. I ran and grabbed my camera and snapped these through the window. I knew if I walked outside he would get spooked and fly off.

A few days later I saw a butt sticking up and was able to catch this little blue heron eating a crab off the dock.It seems like there’s lots of good seafood in our channel. I should be charging them a la carte.

Of course when I see baby ducks heading down the channel I grab my camera and run outside. This family was in front of our dock in late July. The babies were trying to eat the mangrove leaf.

As I was sitting at my desk in the bedroom working, I was watching this slug cruising across the pane. I grabbed my camera and took this wih my macro lens. Cool to see the other side.

North Shore Park

The tiny beach at North Shore Park, near downtown St. Petersburg was not as welcoming as these pictures look. They had just raked the beach of the dead fish from red tide but the fish were still floating up on the beach. At least the smell wasn’t bad and it was such a beautiful Saturday morning. The storms were coming in a little early since this was right before lunch.

The resident hybrid great egret/great blue heron was lurking around, trying to find a live fish to eat. Most of the birds don’t eat the dead fish but a few do and they get sick. The bird rescues are all full of sick fish from the red tide.

I stopped at Crescent Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk to look for otters. No luck on the otters but I did see the above in the vegetation in the lake. A juvenile little blue heron, a great blue heron, a blue jay, a snowy egret and a green heron.

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Saturday morning at the botanical gardens

Pretty things at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo at the end of May.

Little critters.

Squirrels were busy eating fruit all over the gardens.

The squirrel in the two bottom pictures were eating the above. A lychee tree.  My husband grew up eating his Mom’s homemade lychee ice cream but you don’t really see it here in central Florida.

A very young titmouse was following Mom around. She was trying to get him to feed himself but he just kept yelling for her to feed him.

A green heron creeping along a branch in the parking lot.

The sun coming through a papaya tree.

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A late afternoon walk

At the end of April I went out late in the day instead of the morning. I had something I had to do in the morning but I didn’t want to miss a walk outside. I headed to Largo Nature Preserve not expecting much since it was hot. I caught the screech owl peeking out of her hole. I knew this was the tree that had a nest but hadn’t seen anything until now. I didn’t know at this point if there were babies. I waited a while but she just sat there staring off so I kept on going.

I did a quick walk along the boardwalk before heading out. It was interesting to see the spotted sandpiper on the boardwalk rail. Those guys are usually skittish and only here in the winter. Lots of dragonflies around and I saw a moorhen sitting on a nest.

A quick stop at Possum Branch on the way home. I had the entire preserve to myself.

Green herons were everywhere.

A black and yellow flash went by me and when it landed on a branch I realized it was a bobolink. It was with another male and a female that landed farther down the canal. They stopped for a few seconds before taking off again. It was the only bobolink I saw this season.

Little critters in the weeds.

The trails around the ponds were covered in this mimosa ground cover. The purple flowers were covered in moths and bees. You could see the tiny path where people had been walking on it. Quickly they will die off and the trail will get mowed again but the blanket of purple was really pretty this afternoon.

These yellow and white flowers are weeds and they were also everywhere.

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Out and about

“Why did the butterfly cross the road???”

The glossy ibis has been hanging around Possum Branch Preserve for a while now.

The green heron was creeping around under the bushes.

I found the bluebird family again. One of the young ones was popping his head out of the nest. He’s flying around now so I’m not sure if the parents are still feeding him.

Oh the faces we see in a Florida pond!

I stopped by the old Kapok Tree in mid-March. It still had a lot of blooms on the tree but most of them were on the ground. I keep forgetting to go by here and catch it in full bloom. Back when I was a toddler there was a famous restaurant here called the Kapok Tree Inn. It was an old ornate building with lots of different rooms. We would come here to eat when we came to Clearwater to visit my parents. It closed in 1991 but the building is still here and is a music store. It still looks the same inside.

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Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Swamp sparrows were hiding in the bushes in early April.

What a mouthful!

House wrens usually stay hidden but this one popped out for a minute.

You can always find a lot of green herons at Circle B Bar Reserve.

This kingfisher sat still for about 30 seconds and I was able to catch this.

A goldfinch was feeding in the wild grass near the nature center.

Typical shot of the great blue heron on top of a tree along the trail.

Driving along Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

A green heron was all alone with his reflection.

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.

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