Luckily not many people thought the Botanical Gardens in Largo were still open. There was almost no one there in late April. I could sit quietly in the butterfly garden without people walking in front of me scaring away the butterflies.
I sat for a while hoping to see a hummingbird but there was no sight of any. I got the next best thing. A clearwing hummingbird moth buzzing around right next to me. This is the only place I’ve seen them before. They hover and feed like hummingbirds, not landing on the flower and then zip away to rest.
Still working on getting that perfect magnolia picture.
Some type of hawk was flying high up in the sky. This is extremely cropped. I couldn’t make out what it was but I don’t think it was a red shoulder. Might be a cooper’s hawk with that dark head.
Usual birds at Chesnut Park including that juvenile bald eagle that cruised by overhead. That hawk was sitting on a swing on the playground but unlucky for him there were no kids there that early in the morning for him to grab!
The titmouse showing off their fun personality.
Gators everywhere in central Florida. I think those two little ones on the bottom were trying keep warm on this chilly morning.
There were several small alligators hanging out close to the dock. I didn’t see any big ones but I’m sure the mom was close by.
This deer was right off the boardwalk and I snapped this with my phone.
After walking around Chesnut Park in early January, I stopped by a small park along the water on the way home to see if there were any wintering ducks in the bay. No ducks to be found but this gull had found a piece of a fish in the low tide and was snacking. It was weird that there were several live conch shells on the dead fish.
I realized why there wasn’t any little birds around the firebushes early one Saturday morning at Crescent Lake park. A hawk was keeping watch.
You can usually see monk parakeets hanging around the ball park there.
No birds but plenty of moths.
This dog looked bored when I was taking his picture. He was standing guard while his human was fishing.
Starlings are everywhere.
I got all the way across the lake from my car and it started raining. Luckily I had thrown my tiny umbrella in my backpack so I stood under a tree for a few minutes hoping it stop quickly. It was raining on one side of the park and the sun was on the other side. After 15 minutes I just walked back to my car and was soaked from the waist down.Typical Florida weather. By the time I got to my car the rain had stopped so I decided to head over to the North Shore beach park in nearby downtown St. Pete before heading home.
When I got out of the the car there were a few parakeets eating on the ground in front of me. They were chomping on the ground covering.
Meanwhile, this squirrel had found a piece of pizza in the garbage can, probably left over from last night’s picnic. He seemed pleased with himself.
There were still storms out in the bay so I headed home for lunch.
This was our first trip to this park, just outside of Naples,Florida. It has trails and boardwalks that goes through a swamp in central Florida. I was hoping there would be more birds here since it was the end of April and spring migration was still going on but the boardwalk was pretty quiet.
One cool thing about the park was all of the old trees which kept the boardwalk shaded.
It wouldn’t be a swamp with alligators but it was fun seeing the otter near the boardwalk.
Views from the boardwalk taken with my phone.
After the park, Brett and I left Naples behind and headed home to Tampa. I wanted to take some pictures of the Sunshine Skyway bridge as we drove over but the love bugs were so bad that our windshield was covered in them. The funny thing is that our car wasn’t nearly as bad as other cars and vans that had come from much farther south. Of course, Brett washed the car as soon as we got home.
I had heard about Raptor Fest at Boyd Hill Park for several years but never went. I’m not keen on going to big festivals at my favorite parks. I’d rather go when it’s quiet and not crowded. This year peer pressure got the best of me when I had several friends saying you have to go this year. I got there early and got a good spot for the Earthquest program in the open field. Earthquest is a non-profit environmental education program that introduces the public to different raptors, all of which have come from rehabilitation situations that cannot be released in the wild. They gave examples of how we impact the raptors lives and ways to lessen that impact. Above is a hawk, I think a red-tailed hawk which is not rare here but not as common as the red shoulder hawk. He was to fly into the tree and then fly to the perch in front. He flew to the tree but never made it to the perch and took off across the park. He eventually came back but everybody got a good laugh at the handler’s expense.
Above is a Harris’s Hawk which I had never seen before.
Black vulture and turkey vultures, both of which I see a lot of around here. One thing I learned is that black vultures find their food by sight, which is why they soar high in the sky. They have amazing sight. Turkey vultures (with the red face and big nose) find their food by smell, which is why they are mostly seen on the ground.
The above condor stole the show. He’s an andean condor but we learned about California condors and their brink of extinction as well.This guy had so much personality. He was supposed to hop up on the perch to get his food but he showed the handler there was an easier way (although I suspect it was planned all along).
A golden eagle which you can’t find in Florida.
Several local bird rescue and rehabilitation groups were also there with injured birds to get close to. Most were missing a wing or an eye.
My friends were right, it was a fun morning. Crowded but fun to watch the kids see these great birds up close. It was also a good morning to practice flight photography as some of the birds flew from tree to perch. There were tons of big cameras and lenses there. Can’t wait until next year’s in early February. I also got some good pictures of an eurasian eagle owl in flight which I’ll post later.
Wild hogs hiding in the bushes. Not sure where the term “pigtails” comes from?
One of the main trails, Alligator Alley, was finally back open after closing in September of 2017. When Hurricane Irma came through, the trail was washed out and a lot of damage was done to that part of the park. The raised trail across the marsh was finally rebuilt and it was great to walk down it again in late January.
Out on the dock you could see the bald cypress trees going bald for the winter.
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.