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.

Shine the Divine

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

Big brown and white birds at Honeymoon Island

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The eagles are back at Honeymoon Island. I only saw one the morning in early December but the other one could have been laying so far into the nest that I couldn’t see her. Last year they got a late start and both babies died when they were almost fully grown. The team at Project Eagle Watch had them sent for a necropsy but I never did hear what happened or if they know what caused it.

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Looking around. The end of the trail where the nest is located is blocked off so these are highly cropped.

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The above juvenile eagle was sitting on an old osprey nest eating something.

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Before I left the park, I stopped by the nature center on the way out to see what was going on behind it. Sometimes there are ducks floating around in the lagoon. I noticed something way out on an oyster bed that was exposed due to low tide and snapped. When I got home and cropped this up I realized it was juvenile eagle. I’m thinking he was a little older than the one above since he’s starting to get his white feathers. Bald eagles don’t get their full head of white until around 5 years old.

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Osprey fly over. They were everywhere on the nature trail.

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This one looks like he’s got a blowfish or a puffer fish.

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He poked it a couple of times and then dropped it and flew off.

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Another one with a striped fish. They were all eating breakfast.

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I caught this one with his beak full.

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This one was chilling. Hanging over the parking lot watching everyone walk by as I was leaving.

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Another one was sitting even closer. This one is a female since she has those brown spots across the chest. Look at those talons!

I hadn’t been out to Honeymoon Island since May. I decided to head out and walk the nature trail and then walk the beach area. Osprey were everywhere. Sitting on the trail, flying all around, eating fish. It was an osprey convention. They were all yelling at each other so it was loud. I found one of the eagles sitting on a branch over the nest. We’re hoping for a better year with the babies.  No sign of the great horned owls but they could have been hiding.

Different things at Honeymoon Island Park

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When I first got to the park I had a beautiful view of the moon.

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This is a butterfly I don’t see very often.

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Backside of a fiddler crab. You can really see the colors on his back.

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I saw a big tortoise on the side of the trail.

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He didn’t move when I walked by so I stopped and got a front view. Is he smiling?

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Another butterfly.

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View from behind the nature center. It was a quiet morning on my weekend walk down the nature trail.

Camera Critters

A few birds at Honeymoon Island

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I got out of my car in the parking lot, walked around to get my camera from the passenger side and saw this staring at me. An eastern towhee. My first one I’ve seen in Florida. I’ve only ever seen them in Atlanta before. This was early June so he must be a late migrater passing through.

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He was watching me get my stuff out of the car. He posed nicely for me and then took off.

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I saw this eastern kingbird out on the trail.

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After walking out to the end of the trail, I headed out to the little beach at the north end of the park. Right as I got out there, a skimmer came by.

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He circled around and came back for another skim. He was all alone.

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He was busy feeding for a few minutes.

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The usual tricolored heron prancing around in the water.

It was a beautiful morning in early June. I hadn’t been to Honeymoon Island in a long time. I was not expecting to see much there. I originally went to check out any baby osprey. I did manage to find a few other things though. The towhee in the parking lot was the highlight. After taking several pictures of him I thought “Anything else I get today is gravy.”

No baby osprey at Honeymoon Island.

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My first osprey of the morning. Sitting high on a perch.

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Another one sitting on a nest right over the trail.

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He looks down at me “Why are you so close?” I look up at him “Why did you build a nest right over the main trail?”

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The trail was full of osprey nests. Most had an adult sitting on the nest.

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One was eating breakfast.

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Looking at his food eye to eye as he takes a bite.

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He was eating fast.

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This was the only nest where I saw a juvenile.

I hadn’t been to Honeymoon Island for several months. My last trip out was to see the baby great horned owls. I was thinking by now the trail should be full of osprey babies growing up. As I walked down the trail I was thinking I was only seeing adults. Did I miss baby osprey season? Had they all grown up and flown away already. I did see one nest at the end of the trail with two juveniles. Later that same day, I read on the Florida bird sighting post about how the two baby eagles in the nest at the end of the trail had died. People were speculating on what happened. Did they eat something with poison? Did the recent controlled burn have something to do with it? Then I read that out of 16 osprey nest, only one nest had babies this year so there must be something going on out there. Last year the trail was full of babies. An autopsy is being done on the baby eagles. If I hear anything I will post it here. It was a sad ending to a beautiful morning out at the park.

Camera Critters