Color and babies

Random things at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.

There wasn’t many birds when I was there in late May. You can always find brown thrashers there but the kestral was the first time I had seen one here.

After leaving the botanical gardens, I headed over for a quick stop at Largo Nature Preserve to see how the flickers were doing. I got there right as Mom was feeding the babies. I love that flash of red on the back of Mom’s head.

Mom left and the babies kept poking their heads out of the hole. This was probably right before they fledged.They looked fully grown at this point.

The red bellied woodpecker was still hanging around the hole in the tree next door. They will probably nest later in the summer.

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All of the usual things

Right when I got to Largo Nature Preserve and was getting out of the car this swallow tail kite flew so close to me that I cut him off. He flew over some trees and I couldn’t find him again.

The usual birds were there. A cattle egret, limpkin and a night heron.

The usual Florida critters were also there.

I did a quick lap around the paved trail and saw this almost grown baby screech owl peaking out of the hole in the tree. I looked for a while for the parent in the area but couldn’t find one. Those tiny owls are good at hiding. I did not stick around to find out if the parent came in to feed the baby but I’m sure it did at some point.

A red bellied woodpecker was popping in and out of this hole but we were all interested in the flickers nesting in the tree next door. More on that to come.

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A late afternoon walk

At the end of April I went out late in the day instead of the morning. I had something I had to do in the morning but I didn’t want to miss a walk outside. I headed to Largo Nature Preserve not expecting much since it was hot. I caught the screech owl peeking out of her hole. I knew this was the tree that had a nest but hadn’t seen anything until now. I didn’t know at this point if there were babies. I waited a while but she just sat there staring off so I kept on going.

I did a quick walk along the boardwalk before heading out. It was interesting to see the spotted sandpiper on the boardwalk rail. Those guys are usually skittish and only here in the winter. Lots of dragonflies around and I saw a moorhen sitting on a nest.

A quick stop at Possum Branch on the way home. I had the entire preserve to myself.

Green herons were everywhere.

A black and yellow flash went by me and when it landed on a branch I realized it was a bobolink. It was with another male and a female that landed farther down the canal. They stopped for a few seconds before taking off again. It was the only bobolink I saw this season.

Little critters in the weeds.

The trails around the ponds were covered in this mimosa ground cover. The purple flowers were covered in moths and bees. You could see the tiny path where people had been walking on it. Quickly they will die off and the trail will get mowed again but the blanket of purple was really pretty this afternoon.

These yellow and white flowers are weeds and they were also everywhere.

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Spring migration was a bust

McGough Park in Largo is another spring migration hot spot so I stopped there in late April but all I got was turtles. After walking around for an hour and seeing very few birds I left and headed to Largo Nature Preserve.

Not many migrating birds here either but lots of other stuff. I thought the bottom shot was just a weird looking butterfly but then realized it was two butterflies. Not sure if they were mating or feeding on something but they stayed there for a while.

I caught this osprey cruising by me with a really big stick heading to a nest. What is that saying? “Speak softely and carry a big stick”. This is more like “Fly high and carry a big stick”.

A tricolored heron creeping around in the muck.

A big family and almost grown babies in the bottom shot.

This was the first time I’ve seen black bellied whistiling ducks here, much less any where in Pinellas county so I was surprised. They were on the golf course across the canal.

This lone spoonbill was busy feeding and wandering around looking for the best spot.

As I was walking the path something blue whizzed by. Wait, what was that? Finally, a migrating bird. It was a blue grosbeak and when I cropped this shot up I realized there was an immature orchard oriole with him (the yellow one on the right). The oriole took off and I wasn’t able to find him again.

The blue grosbeak had a lady friend with him (the brown one on the top) and they stayed in the area for a few minutes before taking off across the park.

This guy sleeps under the boardwalk. I took this with my phone but I was on the boardwalk at the time.

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A new bird at Largo Nature Preserve

Mucsovy ducks are having babies at all of the local ponds including Largo Nature Preserve.

This blue winged teal couple was still floating around in late March.

The monk parakeets were flying back and forth getting sticks for their nests. Here they nest in a big utilty complex.

The dead trees near the parking lot were full of residents. The first one had a flicker nesting in it. Every once in a while she would poke her head out. The next tree had a hole that was full of bees. The next tree had several red bellied woodpeckers checking out the holes. They may nest later.

After several stops at this park looking for this ash throated flycatcher that had been seen by other birders for the last few weeks, I finally found it on the 3rd try. Luckily this was a “third time’s a charm” instead of “three strikes and you’re out.” It was hopping around in the trees right in the parking lot catching dragonflies. This was a new bird for me and while it’s not quite as pretty as the great crested flycatcher that we get pretty often around here, it was still a great find.

Walking on the boardwalk around the small lake, I found this nest. I’m thinking it’s a moorhen nest since there are a lot of them on this lake but I didn’t see any near this nest. Assuming it’s abandoned but hoping the parent just left for a quick bite.

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A two park morning

The Florida Botanical Gardens was very quiet in late January (as it should be). It was cool out and was really looking like winter. Only a blue jay and brown thrasher made an appearance.

Heading over to nearby Largo Nature Preserve, I happen to see some drama going on with the muscovy ducks. A male intruder was trying to mate with a female who had a mate right beside her. The boyfriend tried unsuccessfully to run off the intruder. After the intruder mated and left, the female’s mate mated her as well. She was having a rough morning.

A pileated woodpecker pair were doing some damage to this utlity pole. Maybe working on a new nest? You can see the male has a red stripe on his cheek.

Lots of plants blooming at both parks.

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A two park morning

I found these leaves at McGough Nature Park in Largo back in October. They look like lacy leaves. They were spread out all along the trail. I would normally think bugs did this but it almost looks natural and I’ve seen it at several other parks. Does anyone know if this is natural?

I stopped by the turtle pond to say hi to all of the turtles swimming around.

A bunny was sitting right on the trail.

Some of the resident tortoises at the nature center.

It’s not often you get to see a Mississippi kite up close. They are pretty rare to see in the Tampa bay area and this one was rehabbing here at the center.

After leaving McGough Park, I stopped by the Largo Nature Preserve for a quick walk before heading home for lunch. It was a quiet morning so I didn’t stay long.

Snail for lunch

I pulled into the parking lot at Largo Nature Preserve and these guys were hanging out in the tree right over my car. If your choice in Florida is parking in the shade and risking bird poop on your car or parking in the sun, you park in the shade.

The tricolored heron was flitting around the boardwalk. I think he was trying to catch dragonflies.

I don’t see red ones often.

This guy was sleeping in the tree but woke up to scratch an itch.

I was excited to see the fuzzy baby limpkin.

Mom was feeding him apple snails.  Mom would pull the meat out of the snail with the end of her beak and give to the baby. By the time I found them it was almost noon and the sun was harsh. I didn’t stay long. It was time for me to head home for lunch as well.

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This could be any park

Usual birds at Largo Nature Preserve.

The usual critters as well.

All of the small city parks in Pinellas county were open (playgrounds and bathrooms were closed) in early April so I was going to the same ones just to get out and walk. The parks were quiet and spring migration hadn’t really started yet. Working from home has made me crave long walks in the parks even more. I would usually stop on the way home once or twice a week to walk after work in the spring before it got to hot but now that I”m home it’s hard to get out after work.

Too hot for the birds

Little critters at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.

Not many birds in early July. A cardinal with a snack and a Loggerhead Shrike

As I was leaving the gardens, I saw this hawk up on a light post. I think this is juvenile Cooper’s Hawk.

I stopped for a quick walk around the boardwalk at Largo Nature Preserve but there wasn’t much there either. I think the smart birds went north for the summer.  I found this green heron creeping around the boardwalk.

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