For the past several years we’ve had hooded mergansers spend part of the winter swimming around a small pond in my neighborhood. The pond is fresh water but they also cruise up and down the salt water canals occasionally while they are here. Coming home from running errands in late November I saw them and ran home and got my camera. I parked a little ways down the street and snuck up behind a tree. They are very skittish but didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t get to close. There were 2 males and one female. They kept swimming around diving for food but I didn’t see them get anything. They were still there through late January. Hoping they return next year.
I think this tricolored heron was wondering what I was doing there.
I ran into Blondie on my walk around the neighborhood pond.
Later I came back with my camera (really to shoot the hoodies below and she just happen to be there).
It’s not often I see hooded mergansers in my own duck pond. Usually we just have mallards and muscovy ducks. I was heading home one Saturday afternoon and saw the big white circle on his head out of the corner of my eye and turned around. Luckily I had my camera in the car and was able to hide behind a tree for a few minutes when they swam by. They are very skittish.
The tricolored heron standing near the old fountain (that’s never turned on anymore) was looking at me like I was crazy.
Some of the sightings in our backyard this past spring. A crow gathering nesting material. The last time I saw our neighborhood kingfisher before he headed back north was in early April, Hooded mergansers were a common sight but they leave in early spring as well. A starling looking for bugs.
One morning as I was leaving for work I saw these robins in my neighbor’s driveway. Luckily I had my camera with the long lens in my car and snapped these out of the car window before leaving.
A creepy caterpiller on my car in the garage. I think this is a Sycamore Tussock moth. While it’s doesn’t sting, the fur could cause hives. I’ve read it’s best not to touch prickly caterpillers.
Things in the sky including this fireball that appeared when the sun started peaking out of the clouds after a storm right before sunset in the backyard.
Aquarium creatures in the manatee exhibit building.
Turtles swimming around in the manatee exhibit.
Watching pelicans being fed from behind the glass at the under water viewing area at the manatee hospital. It was strange watching from this perspective. Their little feet were going a mile a minute.
It’s not often you get to see a hooded merganser this close. He was swimming close to the window of the under water viewing window.
The Lowry Park Zoo is getting a new water filtration system for the manatee hospital so there are currently no manatees at the zoo. Any injured manatees are now being sent to other manatee rehabbers until their new system is in. Normally you can go underneath and see the injured manatees that are being cared for at the hospital which is part of the zoo.. It’s unfortunate that any people visiting the area are not able to see these big guys up close but the zoo really needed to update its water system. And, it unfortunate that soon it will be installed and there will be new injured manatees swimming around there again. You can read about the hospital here.
The hooded mergansers showed up in our channel in early November. I saw that flash of white and started yelling “The hoodies are back!” This is the 4th year we’ve had them floating in the water behind our house during the winter. These were taken through the bedroom window. If I just open the back door, they take off down the channel.
At first we just saw 2 males. Since then we’ve had a few females show up.
This one came pretty close to our dock.
A female anhinga hanging out on our neighbor’s dock.
I noticed the little kingfisher sitting on our neighbor’s dock post and realized he had a fish in his beak. I snapped the above through the window. He saw me.
He flew down to our neighbor’s dock with the fish. Then he flew off down the channel so I didn’t get to see him swallow it.
Later in the afternoon he was back on our dock.
I noticed the white ibis sitting on my neighbor’s dock. They were watching something.
On the other side of the dock was an osprey with a fish under his foot. That juvenile ibis was pretty brave to fly over to him. The osprey eventually got tired of the crowd and left with his lunch.
Just a few visitors to the backyard in the middle of November.
A male hooded merganser goes swimming by the dock.
A male and female go by. She kept sticking her head under water. I guess she was looking for a snack.
Two happy couples go swimming by.
I caught a kingfisher sitting on my neighbor’s dock. She didn’t sit there long.
We’ve been getting a lot of hooded mergansers swimming in the canal behind our house. At one point I counted four couples swimming together. If the weather across the country stays this warm they’ll be going home soon. Last year I think I saw them through most of March. I haven’t been seeing the kingfisher very often in the last 2 months. This past weekend, she showed up for a few seconds. I just happened to be taking pictures of the mergansers when I saw her. Now that our big dead grapefruit tree is gone, we haven’t been getting very many tiny birds in the backyard. I moved the bird feeder to the other side of the house near the bushes but all we’ve been getting there are doves and blue jays. All pictures taken through the bedroom window.