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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A new bird and some old ones

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I finally made it down to Fort Desoto to see the smooth billed ani. This counts as a new bird for me.  I had seen the grooved billed ani at Boyd Hill Park back in 2011.  The smooth billed had spent a while at the park during the holidays but I wasn’t able to get down there until January. He wasn’t too hard to find. Just look for the group of people staring at it.

Above is the groove bill ani. They look exactly the same except for the bill.

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This was only the 2nd time I had seen a lark sparrow. One was hanging out near the same spot as the ani. This one spent the morning feeding on the ground.

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A kestrel high up in a tree.

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This snowy egret has a shrimp. He was fishing along the shoreline next to the pier.

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The pelican clan hanging out on the jetty.

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Some small things on the beach. A mangrove taking root and a small fiddler crab.

Fort Desoto in mid-January.

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Driving around a lake in central Florida

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The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is an 11 mile drive along a lake north of Orlando.  The weekend Brett and I stayed in Orlando, we got up early and drove through the area before heading back to Tampa. The 11 miles zig zags back and forth with channels running on either side.

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The first things we say were birds of prey.  A northern harrier, a young red shoulder hawk and a kestrel right when we drove in.

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A great egret fighting with a snake.

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Fulvous whistling ducks were far out in the lake.

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Alligators of all sizes were along the drive including that big one in the last picture. His head was huge. I wish his entire body was out of the water. He has got to be the biggest one I’ve seen out in the wild.

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Pretty plants along the way.

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

Another Saturday morning walk at the Fort Desoto fishing pier

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I caught this kestrel flying over my head.

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He flew over to the top of a pine tree.

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Then a frigatebird flew close to the pier.

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A juvenile hawk.  He let me get pretty close.

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The young reddish egret is still hanging around the pier. I’m beginning to wonder if this is a hybrid of some sort. Is it an offspring of a reddish egret and a white morph reddish egret?

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A cormorant preening on a light post.

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The osprey  couple that nests near the Fort were hanging around together. If this warm weather keeps up this December, nesting season will be starting much earlier this year.

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A usual sight at the pier. A big boat passing the lighthouse at Egmont Key.

Just another perfect day at the beach. SkyWatch Friday