Honeymoon Island beach before the tourists get here.

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After walking the nature trail at Honeymoon Island State Park, I headed over to the beach to see if there were any shorebirds hanging around.

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The usual birds were there: marbled godwits, royal terns and dowitchers.

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The waves were splashing over the jetties. It was fun to be out in one of the last cool windy days before the heat sets in (and the tourists).

SkyWatch Friday

Trail full of birds

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There were a few tiny birds at Honeymoon Island Park at the end of January. Tons of yellow rumped warblers and the last one is an eastern towhee.

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The parking lot was full of yellow rumped warblers. They thought the cars were something to play on.

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A very young bald eagle flew by as I headed out on the trail.

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I always see kestrels in the winter here.

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The trail was full of osprey. They were eating, preening and doing a few other things. That last one I took directly in the sun but it was too funny not to post.

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I found a headless osprey in a tree.

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Oh wait, he was just turned around.

All of the usuals at Honeymoon Island State Park.

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The “Dead Tree” trail at Honeymoon Island

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Over the years Honeymoon Island state park has had many controlled burns on the trail. It keeps the area from over growing and keeps uncontrolled fires from getting out of hand such as a lightning strike. Most of the trees grow back but a few of them along the trail are dead. They leave the trees up to keep the park in a natural state. Many of the dead trees have osprey, owl or woodpecker nests. It gives the park a different eery feel.

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At the same park is a beautiful beach. The morning I was there in late January it was cloudy and windy. The beach was almost empty except for a few shell collectors. It was fun to see the beach in a different light.

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It was too windy and choppy to kayak. They were all stacked up waiting for a sunny day.

Even a dark, cloudy, windy, cold morning at the beach is still a great morning.

SkyWatch Friday

Nothing but skeeters at Honeymoon Island in December

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And this eastern towhee. I don’t see these very often.

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Catbirds are very common here.

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It’s common to see a kestrel high up in a tree.

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The eagle is on the nest. I’ve heard that the rangers have reported there are eggs. I could just barely see her head sticking up. I did not see the other parent that morning.

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A downy woodpecker hanging around.

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I saw this juvenile bald eagle way out in the lagoon across from the nature center. The tide was very low and the oyster beds were exposed.

It’s not fun to go on a hike in early December and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had two coats of bug repellant on with high DEET content. I still came home with 15 bug bites. They were biting my hands, my ears, my face. I stopped and sprayed my hair since they were dive bombing my head. Usually if I keep moving they don’t bother me too much but they were chasing after me as I walked very quickly down the trail. We need a good cold spell to get rid of these guys (like days with a high under 50).  It was 85 degrees.

SkyWatch Friday

What fall looks like here

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In mid-December I headed out to Honeymoon Island for a long walk on the nature trail. I was hoping to see the eagles or the owls. Both should be nesting by now. The only thing I saw up close were a million mosquitoes. It should have been cool and windy but it was over 80 degrees and the humidity was high by 9am. I had 2 coats of repellant on and still came home with 15 mosquito bites. I did manage to see the very tip of the eagle’s head while she sat on the nest which is a good sign that she’s sitting on eggs.

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What winter looks like in central Florida

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Some plants looked dead. Some plants were still blooming. The weather is back and forth. Some days cloudy and cold (58 degrees) and some days sunny and warm (75 degrees). I never know whether I need a jacket or not. I think the plants are confused as well. These were all taken on a long walk on the nature trail at Honeymoon Island in late January. I went looking for eagles and owls. Both were sleeping all morning so I started taking pictures of the plants. I’m going to try to get back over there before the baby eagles leave the nest. They should be there for a few more months.

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December walk at Honeymoon Island – Skywatch Friday

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A common sight on the nature trail at Honeymoon Island.

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Some of the burnt trees have osprey nests in them. It’s not quite nesting season so they were all empty. All of the osprey were out catching breakfast.

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Another typical sight at Honeymoon Island.

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One of the many yellow rumped warblers. I’ve taken a ton of pictures of them in the last few weeks.

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I don’t see eastern towhees very often. This is my 2nd sighting of a towhee in Florida.

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Not sure what this was up so high. It’s probably a palm warbler.

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The red berries everywhere make the trails look like Christmas. This is a nasty invasive tree, a brazilian pepper tree. They spread like wildfire and take over native plants. Birds eat the berries and disperse them everywhere. It’s now illegal to sell, buy or move them. Many parks have pulled them out. They are pretty when the berries are in full bloom.

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This dog was having fun in the water.

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Ring billed gull guarding a shell.

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Another one in the water.

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Raccoon prints on the beach.

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It was another beautiful morning in Florida during December. It started out cloudy and cold but the sun came out after the first hour I was there and it got hot. I’m glad I brought my bottle of Off. The mosquitos were still there.  We need a week in the 40’s at night to make them fly south. Maybe January.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday