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.

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.

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