The usual stuff near my neighborhood

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Lots of ring neck ducks floating in the channel near my neighborhood. The all brown ones are the females and the ones with black heads and gray bodies are the males.

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Alligators are everywhere.

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I hadn’t seen a horned grebe in a long time. This one was all alone across the channel.

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Two more alligators in the grass.

A quick stop at the Safety Harbor fishing pier

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 A common loon floating around the fishing pier.

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The red-eyed horned grebe is back at the fishing pier this winter. There were 4 of them floating around but stayed away from each other and the other 3 were pretty far out.

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Common tern fly by.

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Pelican going in for a fish.

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Head first!

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Synchronized fishing.

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There’ s always a laughing gull trying to get a freebie from the pelicans.

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“I’m outta here.” says the pelican to the gull.

Another sunny morning stop at the Safety Harbor fishing pier. I did not see any manatees this morning but a few dolphins were far out.

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Red eyed beauties at the fishing pier

I see the first one swimming in front of the fishing pier

Later I spot this one in the sailboat basin. Scratching an itch.

Another one making sure his backside is pretty.

Giving me that red eyed devil look.

Short video of the grebes bathing.

I stopped at the Safety Harbor fishing pier after seeing the baby owls just to see if anything interesting was there. I found several horned grebes swimming around. These little ducks seem to be popping up everywhere in the bay. I’ve seen several swimming along the causeway. It really is feast or famine. I looked for these guys for two years with no luck and now I see them everywhere. I love those red eyes staring back. They are migratory though and will soon be heading back up north.

Camera Critters

Safety Harbor fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

Hardly anyone on the pier. It was such a beautiful day. Where was everyone?

The day started out cloudy. But then the sun started peeking out.

Such a perfect view!

Surprise! A rare horned grebe floats up to the pier.

The manatees are back early this year. They usually don't show up at this pier until late March. In the summer, you can always see manatees around the pier.

Hey lady, gimmi a kiss!
Safety Harbor, a small little part of the Tampa bay area, is one of my favorite pit stops. Actually, the fishing pier is. The town sits on the water in  the upper Tampa bay, north of all 3 bridges (Gandy, Howard Franklin and Courtney Campbell) that cross the bay from Pinellas County to Hillsborough County. Unless there is an event going on at the little marina, I can always find a good parking spot and it’s free. Most of the time there are pelicans and shorebirds flying around or digging around in the sand. In the warm months you can always see manatees swimming around the pier.  When the time changes and it’s light outside after work, I sometimes stop by for a quick walk along the pier just to de-stress.  Usually just to take a deep breath before heading to do battle at the grocery store. On a recent Saturday morning I stopped there on the way home from checking on the baby owls. It turned out to be a perfect morning.
 
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Possum Branch Preserve

Crazy bees on a low branch.

Yellow rumped warbler.
Swamp or song sparrow? I got conflicting information from the other people there. They both look alike in my Stokes Birding Guide.

Horned grebe in the canal .

Possum Branch Preserve is about 12 minutes from my house. I had never even heard of it until people started posting on Bird Brains about seeing a green tailed towhee there. The parking lot fits about 3 cars if you can call it a parking lot. It sits right on the corner of two busy roads in Pinellas county. It’s a tiny place but had a lot of bird action for the size. The preserve runs along a canal and has two small ponds there. The highlight of the trip, other than seeing the towhee, was seeing two horned grebes swimming in the canal. This was my 2nd horned grebe sighting. The first was from far away on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. I’m going to have to head back here again soon.