Critters in Lakeland in early March

Out at Circle B Bar Reserve in early March, I was greeted by a tricolored heron and a kingfisher, both flying by.

Green herons are common along the trail but I can’t help but take more pictures of them.

I saw this great blue heron high up in a tree doing a mating dance. They look straight up and bob up and down. It looks like he, or she, was sitting on a nest already. I guess she was ready to start a family.

Here comes another one. Maybe a looking for a mate? She did not want any part of him as she screamed at him.

He flew around in a circle and still came back to land on the same tree. She chased him off so maybe that wasn’t her boyfriend.

I stopped by Lake Morton near downtown Lakeland on the way home. This male black necked swan had already started a family. I saw him walking over to the nest and his mate, a mute swan, left. He checked the eggs out and then sat on them while she went out for a walk (or to look for a snack). The black neck swan had a mate, also a black necked, for several years before she was hit by a car in early 2020.  They were the only pair so now the lone male has taken a mute swan as a mate so it will be interesting to see how those babies turn out.

A blue winged teal taking a nap.

I’ve been told the gray swans here are offspring of mute swans and black swans that had paired up. There are several on the lake.

An anhinga posing for me.

The baby black swans are growing up fast. They looked so cute cuddling together.

Low tide in late December

I headed down to Fort Desoto Park in late December hoping to see the huge flocks of white pelicans. No luck on North beach but I found a small flock of them way out sitting on a spoil island. The first shot is zoomed in and cropped up. Later I was walking on the beach and a lone one flew over my head.

I saw the above kingfisher flying around out in the North Beach marsh, diving for fish.

A few dunlins were feeding in the shallow end.

I love this time of year when it’s sunny and cool and the tide is really low. You can walk out forever before you get to ankle deep water.

Watching the ships go by from the fishing pier.

I stopped by Crescent Lake Park on the way home to look for otters and found a pair of white pelicans instead.

A few other birds at the lake were a wood stork and a lesser scaup with a snack in his beak. I think he had a crawfish.

SkyWatch Friday

Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Swamp sparrows were hiding in the bushes in early April.

What a mouthful!

House wrens usually stay hidden but this one popped out for a minute.

You can always find a lot of green herons at Circle B Bar Reserve.

This kingfisher sat still for about 30 seconds and I was able to catch this.

A goldfinch was feeding in the wild grass near the nature center.

Typical shot of the great blue heron on top of a tree along the trail.

Driving along Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

A green heron was all alone with his reflection.

Some of the wintering ducks at the wildlife drive include a blue winged teal couple, a female northern shoveler and a grebe.

The coots seemed to be in couples all over the drive.

A glossy ibis in the bur marigolds.

Some of the smaller birds include a flicker and many blue gray gnatcatchers.

I got out of the car and was walking around watching the ducks when this kingfisher flew right by.

Shooting right into the sun, the marsh looked like it had a layer of gold on top. Those tiny black dots were coots which were all over the place. It really looked like winter on my drive in late December with all of the leaves off the trees and bushes here. The wildlife drive is just north of Orlando and is a little hike from my house so I don’t get here often. It’s been worth the drive recently since I was trying to stay off my hip due to hip bursitis at the end of last year.

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A drive along the lake

Everyone was eating breakfast at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late October.

A great blue heron off in the distance.

A young purple gallinule showing off his big feet.

A kingfisher sitting still. I took this from the car since I knew the second I opened that door he would be gone.

A tricolored heron guarding the sign.

A few of the smaller gators along the drive. I never seem to see the really big ones there.

More along the drive. I was having hip pain in late October so I decided to head over to the wildlife drive in Apopka and stay off me feet for a while. I ended up with hip bursitis which has slowed me down for a while in early November. It was taking forever to heal since I can’t seem to sit still very long.

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In the backyard this spring.

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.

 

  

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The usual things at my usual park.

The deer where feeding at my usual parking spot.

The squirrels being their usual cute self.

The usual birds hanging around the boardwalks.

A usual big fat gator on the bank of the pond. He was well camouflaged at first.

The usual wintering belted kingfisher up in a tree.

A quiet morning at Chesnut Park.

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Alligator Alley trail is back open.

Birds up high.

A few down low.

Wild hogs hiding in the bushes. Not sure where the term “pigtails” comes from?

One of the main trails, Alligator Alley, was finally back open after closing in September of 2017. When Hurricane Irma came through, the trail was washed out and a lot of damage was done to that part of the park. The raised trail across the marsh was finally rebuilt and it was great to walk down it again in late January.

Out on the dock you could see the bald cypress trees going bald for the winter.

SkyWatch Friday

Backyard visitors this spring.

In late spring, I heard some birds screaming in the backyard. I peeked out the bedroom window and saw the above, baby starlings being fed by the parents.  I ran and grabbed my camera and took the above through the window. I didn’t want to go outside and spook them.  These almost fully grown babies were very aggressive, almost attacking the parents to be fed. This went on for 20 minutes. They must have wiped out all of the worms, bugs and caterpillars we had in the backyard. Maybe I should have scared them off.

This was the last I saw of my neighborhood kingfisher back in late April, sitting on our dock. Hopefully she’ll show back up in late October again.

Now we get a lot of house sparrows on our dock.

A little blue heron walking through our yard.

Blondie and her babies came by the house recently. This beautiful cream colored mallard lives in our neighborhood. She usually has 2 sets of babies each year.