I made another trip to the Roosevelt Wetlands in mid-May. The summer heat had set in but there was still a slight breeze early in the morning. I snapped a few small critters right when I got out on the trail in case I didn’t see much of anything else.
I think this is a type of partridge pea plant. There was a lot of this growing on trail.
There were a few black necked stilts in the pond and I meant to get back there later in the summer to look for baby ones but I never made it back during baby season.
The juvenile little blue heron was digging deep to get food. He was molting into his blue adult feathers and the pattern was really pretty.
What was that head popping up in the water? It was an otter. I hadn’t seen an otter out in the wild since January 2022. There were two of them and they were moving fast across the pond. I couldn’t keep up with them.
I lost sight of them and then a few minutes later I saw them crossing the trail and diving into the other side of the pond. They disappeared quickly again and I saw them pop up on the other side of the pond and head into the reeds.
I feel like I’m never in the right place at the right time but these two kildeer walked right in front of me on the trail and started getting frisky. Another reason to get back here in the summer to see kildeer babies and I missed this one as well.
Across the pond there were two moorhens fighting.
That juvenile osprey was still on the nest. She looked up from her snack and gave me the “don’t come near me and steal my fish” stare.
Even though it was already crazy hot it was a nice morning to be out on the trail. There was quite a bit of action for such a tiny reserve.
Roosevelt Wetlands is a small reserve right next to the waste plant. It has a great trail that runs across the lake and is usually quiet. Just don’t go when the wind is blowing towards the reserve. I got there pretty early and first saw 2 skimmers skimming along the lake.
It looks like this moorhen bit off part of a lily pad.
A kildeer flew close by.
Some wintering birds were still there in early May. A sora rail and a spotted sandpiper.
Cute duck family.
A lesser yellowlegs was creeping around in the muck.
Two new birds in one shot. A white rumped sandpiper on the left and a semipalmated sandpiper on the right. These aren’t super rare birds for this area but for some reason I kept missing them. They were also creeping around in the muck.
A least sandpiper was also with the new birds. I had not seen one of these since 2012.
Another shot of the white rumped sandpiper.
A little sandpiper party.
Another shot of the semipalmated sandpiper.
I finally saw the gull billed tern. He flew by really fast and this was the only shot I could get of him. He circled around the pond and then left. He isn’t an exciting bird but a new one for me.
The only new bird I didn’t see that was sighted there before was a stilt sandpiper. Maybe next time.
I had not been out to Roosevelt Wetlands since last summer. I forget what a cool small reserve this is. I had heard there were some new birds there so I went for a short walk in early May. The raised trail down the middle of the pond is full of Indian blanket flowers and they were in full bloom.
I immediately saw a bunny right on the trail.
The sun had been up for a while and I could see an osprey sitting on the platform nest ahead of me.
I could hear him yelling as I passed the platform and turned around to see the juvenile staring right at me.
This Momma moorhen was busy with 2 little ones.
There were several young little blue herons along the trail. They were just started to get their blue feathers in.
An adult little blue heron shaking it off.
A least tern flies by.
I also saw several spoonbills.
A kildeer was walking in front of me and then disappeared into the flowers.
I did find those new shorebirds that were here but more on those later.
I found a pair of kildeer far out in the cow pasture.
A Savannah sparrow posed for me on the fence.
I spotted some turkeys on the far side of the cow pasture.
Critters taking a nap along the pond (these were both cropped up).
This is the first time I have seen a snapping turtle on this trail.
My first ever sighting of a Sherman’s fox squirrel. They are only found in Florida and south Georgia. I have heard of sightings of them farther north of Tampa and had heard there were some seen along this trail but I hadn’t seen them until this morning. There were 2 and they stayed far on the other side of the cow pasture so these are heavily cropped. They are bigger than the abundant gray squirrels we have in our backyard.
A red shoulder hawk had something furry in his talons and when I stopped to get my camera out he turned around to hide his prey. I quickly snapped the above and then left him to his meal.
It was a little chilly in early March (meaning 60 degrees) and I decided to bundle up and go out for a bike ride on my favorite cow pasture trail. There were a few cows near the trail but the almost grown calves were far back.
This time the turkeys were fairly close to the fence. Tom was really showing off for the ladies. The ladies were ignoring him.
A kildeer was cruising along one of the ponds.
This was an interesting grasshopper. Not the usual lubber but I’m not sure what kind.
Blooming along the trail.
I found a big invasive rosary pea plant near the beginning of the trail. Most of the pods had opened up and revealed the bright red seeds. These seeds are highly toxic to humans and many domestic animals but birds can eat them without any problems. I’ve read that one seed can kill a horse or cow and this plant was right along the cow pasture with a horse barn on the other side. I’m surprised they haven’t pulled this out.
I’ve been out on my bike quite a bit now that the weather is warmer. It’s an easy way to get around with my foot still hurting. There’s not a lot of places to ride with a lot of nature instead of traffic but there’s a bike trail just north of me that goes through cow pastures. As soon as I got on the trail I heard the sandhill cranes. Flying across the pasture. They were pretty far away and I had only brought my shorter lens but it was cool to see them flying by.
A kildeer was far out in the pasture.
And of course lots of cows. And lots of babies! There were a lot of cream colored babies out there and a lot of them were nursing. Next year I need to get out here much sooner when they are tiny.
I saw this sandhill crane by himself standing near the fence.
Another eagle nest up in a utility tower. One of the parents was feeding a little one.
The other parent took off across the trail.
This morning started out sunny but dark clouds started to move in as I got half way down the trail so I didn’t stay too long. Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions on my foot issues. I have seen a podiatrist and gotten a painful shot. Keeping off my feet a few more weeks and hoping for the best (along with the stretches, exercises, icing, etc).
I had heard there was a rare pectoral sandpiper at Roosevelt Wetlands at the end of June. I hadn’t been to the wetlands in several years. I’m not sure why it sort of just fell off my list of parks. I wasn’t expecting to find it and I passed someone who had said they had been looking since sunrise and didn’t see it. After looking for it for only a half hour I found it. It was walking around in some mud flats and really blended in. It’s not an exciting looking bird. Kind of bland but it was a lifer for me.
They added a long trail to the wetlands that runs the length of the lake. It was covered in indian blanket flowers which was pretty cool.
A kildeer was feeding near the sandpiper.
I saw a few black necked stilts on my walk in.
On my way back to the car I saw the stilts again and noticed a baby creeping around near the one of the adults. He was a tiny little fluff ball.
He was so cute. The parents stayed close by and kept an eye on me so I quickly snapped the above and left (these are highly cropped). It was a productive morning out and I need to get back here again soon.
I’ve only heard of two whooping cranes in central Florida although they supposedly migrate to an area farther north of Tampa in the winter. I think the ones I went looking for don’t migrate and live here all year. People have seen them in the area most of the year. I had an idea of the area they were in and drove a while down dirt roads lined with cow pastures and orange groves. I was thinking “needle in a haystack” and was ready to go home empty handed when I saw two white spots far away in a cow pasture. Excited, I pulled over and got out and snapped a few shots. Using my 300mm lens with an extender, the above were extremely cropped
Uncropped, they were in a small pond in the middle of a cow pasture.
Taken with my phone, you could really see how far away they were. See those two tiny white dots right in the middle?
There were a lot of other birds out in the pasture that you could only see with a long lens, including several kildeer in the first shot and lots of cattle egrets in the bottom two shots. It was a perfect day to be out, even if it was standing on a dirt road with the smell of cow pasture blowing in my direction.
Last year, an osprey couple built a nest in one of the lights in the parking lot at work. They did not have any babies that year. The nest did not seem well built and people are walking by all day long. This spring they started working on the nest and I didn’t get my hopes up. My doubts were not necessary this year. One night I walked out to my car and saw a little head sticking up. The next night I brought my camera to work and got the above shots.
It gets better. A week later I realized there were two babies.
After a heavy rain had filled the grassy area next to the parking lot, one of the parents flew down and was drinking some of the water. The ducks seemed baffled by their new friend.
Also in the parking lot was a night heron nest. High up in a pine tree, two babies were looking down at me.
One night while I was taking pictures of the osprey, this crow flew past me and landed in a nearby pine tree. I hate to think it but it looks like he has a small duck in his beak. This was the only shot I got before he flew off.
A kildeer was watching me from the side of the parking lot.
Last week the babies were fully grown. They were flying from light pole to light pole but still getting their food from the parents. Soon they will be gone for good. It looks like he’s got some fish guts on the nest.
Since it’s rare these days that I can get to a park after work, it’s nice to have the wildlife come to work.