Two new birds in the backyard

Two new birds in the backyard (although I’ve seen them both before somewhere else). Two brown headed cowbirds stopped by but didn’t stay long. A hermit thrush has become a regular visitor since early December.

An eastern phoebe has stopped by a few times this winter. I caught him taking a bath one morning.

Regular visitors include a black and white warbler, cardinals (who are usually shy and don’t come out in the open but I caught this one on the bath) and bluebirds.

Every few weeks a yellow throated warbler stops by. He usually hunts for bugs in the small palm tree next to our house. I went outside to get these since he was hiding under the palms.

I heard her before I saw her. I heard the pileated woodpecker’s loud scream as she flew into our oak tree. I snapped this quickly through the window before she took off.

I went outside to get this shot. Actually, I went out to try and shoo him away from the window and took my camera out with me. He is not easily scared. I’m glad he hangs out in our corner of the neighborhood but I don’t want him too close to the window where Buddy and Harley stay (in the sunroom).

A young little blue heron that hasn’t lost his white baby feathers yet.

I’m glad I put that nest box up so the squirrels can nap on it.

Things blooming in the backyard in late December.

Inspire Me Monday

Fall migration in my backyard

I was bummed that I would miss fall migration due to my shoulder surgery but it seems that fall migration came to me one afternoon. I came home from physical therapy and looked out the back window and saw some birds hopping around near the bird bath. I was thinking it would be the same birds that visit (titmouse, chickadees, etc) so I barely looked but then I noticed a few that looked different. I still had my camera set up on my tripod so I started snapping. There were a few immature indigo buntings.

There were several flashes of yellow and one was a non-breeding male scarlet tanager that was taking a bath.

Above are female summer tanagers.

A red eyed vireo stopped for a quick drink.

Pine warblers are fairly common in the backyard during the winter.

Catbirds are also common in the winter. He was photobombed by a bluebird.

Chickadees come by almost every day but it’s always hard to get a decent shot. They are very skittish.

There were several house finches this afternoon.

Later in the day the neighborhood red shoulder hawk stopped by and that cleared out all of the birds. I always know when he’s here since Harley (my young cockatiel) has a certain high pitch scream when he sees him. I jumped off the couch when I heard that scream and there he was, low in the tree. I ran outside and shooed him away but not before snapping the above.

I made it home right before lunch and when I saw all of the birds in the backyard I started snapping (all through the window). An hour later I was starving but it was hard to pull myself away from the window. I eventually did but I kept peeking out. I looked up on the BirdCast Migration tool website for Pinellas County. It said that over 5 million birds had passed through that night so I think that explains the fall out on this day in mid-October. We normally get one million passing through on a big fall out day.

Waiting for eagles to wake up.

I spent many mornings standing under a bottle brush tree along a fence waiting for the eagles in my neighborhood to wake up. I would go for a long walk and then ride my bike over to the nest with my camera and wait for the parents to bring in food. I saw a lot of other birds there as well. A kestral was there on the wires every time I came to take pictures. In the beginning he was very skittish and would fly away when I walked up but after a month he started getting a little closer. One morning I caught him eating a cricket.

A phoebe hung out in the reeds along the utility area beyond the fence. He was there most of February and March.

One morning a hawk landed in a tree nearby. I thought he was going to catch something when he flew to the ground but he took off empty handed.

The moon was still up early one morning.

Early in April on a cloudy morning there were two swallow tail kites that flew far up overhead.

One morning a turkey cruised by.

The usual annoying birds were always there, mockinbirds and blue jays.

A mallard flew by.

I was out there right before sundown one day and got to watch the beautiful sunset. That’s a bat box on the stick. Sometimes I could hear them sqweaking in there.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Backyard birds

A bluebird blending in at my neighbor’s bird bath.

This hawk keeps hanging around our yard. I know he can see my cockatiels through the window. I ran outside and chased him off the tree in front of the window but he’s not easily scared. He just flew one tree over to a pine tree. He stayed there for a while watching me take his picture.

As I was taking pictures of the hawk, this red bellied woodpecker landed right above him.

A palm warbler looking for bugs in my hanging plant.

A chickadee close to the window.

Pine warblers are regulars at the feeder.

I’m not sure what this is. Still trying to figure this out. I found it high up in my neighbor’s tree. I first thought a black throated green warbler with that black on his throat but a it wouldn’t have so much yellow on it’s chest. Any ideas?

Watching a squirrel taking a nap through the window.

All in early November.

Critters from my yard.

More shots of the little titmouse around my bird bath. I have taken around a gazillion pictures but it’s hard to stop when I’m out walking around. They love to pose for me.

A few other visitors in early November. There are a ton of downy and red bellied woodpeckers in the neighborhood. I’ve seen a few pileated woodpeckers go flying by but I have yet to get pictures of them.

I’ve seen several black and white warblers in my big oak tree.

A yellow throated warbler in the palm tree up against our townhome.

A chickadee looking around under the patio chairs.

This juvenile little blue heron was creeping around the grass. All of the above were taken through the window.

If I stand on the end of my patio, I can see my neighbor’s bird feeder a few houses down from ours. He’s always got birds on his feeder (although mostly blue birds and pine warblers). After taking these and zooming in, I realize he had dried mealworms in his feeder. I only have mixed seed and I’m only getting titmouse at my feeder although I have gotten a few pine warblers as well. I may have to step up my feeder game.

A pine warbler on my feeder (through the window).

I was walking back from getting my mail and this hawk was in the short palm tree next to my driveway. He watched me walk right by him and didn’t move. I ran in and got my camera and he was flying off as I walked out. He flew down to the grass and looked like he was stalking something but eventually he flew to a lightpost empty handed.

After the hawk flew off I realized there was a bluebird on the power line right over my head. It was almost dark at this point but he sat there for a while.

A few more critters in the backyard. The squirrels like to sit on this low palm  tree up against our house while snacking.

A new park for me

For years I have heard about Chinsegut Wildlife Area about an hour north of Tampa but had never made the drive until recently. In mid-April I wanted to go somewhere different so I finally made the trip up north. I got there right when the nature center opened the gates at 8am and was the only person there. For the first hour I had the whole place to myself. I walked over to the dock first and realized that the lake was choking with vegetation. There was only a little water across the lake. The only bird I saw was a hawk cruising around and then landing in the middle on the other side.I had read this small lake was full of water birds this time of year but that must have been old information. Even the little bit of water I could see across the lake didn’t have birds there.

After a quick walk around one of the short trails, I headed over to the nature center to see what birds where hanging around the feeders behind it. The first one I saw was a chipping sparrow.

The usual birds were at the feeder. House finches, doves and cardinals were the only ones. They usually get a lot of migrating birds through here but maybe I picked an off day.

Several red bellied woodpeckers came to the suet.

A lone chickadee.

Looking behind the feeders, I saw a bluebird peeking out at me.

It was a really nice park with tons of trails but I didn’t walk to much since my hip was bothering me. I sat on a bench behind the center for a while and just enjoyed the morning out. I will definately get back in the winter when I can walk a little farther.

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Lake Morton and Circle B Bar Reserve

I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while.  I had taken the above in early December.

Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.

This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.

It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.

Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.

I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.

Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk.  I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.

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The same things from a different park

I headed down to Fort Desoto early one Saturday morning only to find it was closed for a marathon. So I decided to head to a park I had not been before. Maximo Park sits on the water right next to the interstate and was only minutes away from Fort Desoto. I had not been here before but had not heard much about it. It’s a small park near a marina and the people were lined up at the boat ramp to get their boats in for the day. Across the bay you can see the new bridge near Fort Desoto going up. You can buy bait fish right out of the water (for the lazy people who don’t want to pull their own bait fish up with a net).

It was a quiet day for birds but above are a few that I found including the vulture sunning himself.

Was it starting to look like fall? Looks like poison ivy with those red leaves of 3.

I stopped by Sawgrass Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk and saw this soft shell turtle crossing the parking lot. A man came over and picked him and moved him on his way. It’s rare to see these guys out of the water up close. They are usually pretty skittish.

This is one spoiled duck.

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Sunrise in Tampa

I was up early on a Saturday morning in October and headed out to a small beach near my house that sits right under the airplane pathway to the airport. Although it wasn’t that early since the time hadn’t changed yet and the sun wasn’t coming up until 7:30. I stopped at Cypress beach and walked out to catch the sun coming up over the water.

There was hardly any one there this early so I had the little beach area all to myself.

I only saw one plane coming in. The water is mostly grass beds and drops off very deep. I’ve heard there are sharks here so you don’t see a lot of people in the water. I think people come here just to get out and it’s a popular sunset spot.

Pretty butterfly on the ground.

A few of the birds were a hawk and a little blue heron.

Pelicans guarding the slow wake signs. I’m sure there’s also manatees out there with so much of the area being grass beds but I didn’t see any this morning.

SkyWatch Friday

Waiting out the rain

Walking down Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early June. Not much along the trails but gators. I had a rare day off in the week and the reserve was quiet. And, the threat of rain kept people at home.

As I got down to the end of the trail (as far away from my car as possible) the dark clouds were moving in fast.

I quickly ducked under the small rain shelter as the bottom fell out. That was fine. I’ll rest here for a while until it stops.

It started pouring sideways and the rain was coming into the shelter which has a roof but no walls. I had my small umbrella in my backpack that I pulled out but I was still getting soaked from the waist down. There was no one else around except for my friend Henry, the great blue heron, who stayed near the shelter during the pour.

I played games on my phone for a while and took a lot of pictures and after almost an hour of pouring, it dwindled down to a light sprinkle and I headed back down the trail back to the parking lot.

The birds along the trail were all wet. By the time I got back to main trail to the nature center, the sun was coming out and  people were coming in looking at me like I was a wet rat. It was still a fun morning.

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