It was a perfect morning for spending some time sitting on a bench at the Oldsmar pier. As I walked out on the pier I noticed a small “fever” of stingrays in the shallow water. I took the above with my phone. They were pretty close and it was cool to watch them slowly swim out in the bay.
In late February the wintering ducks were still there. A few came close to the pier. Looks like they were lesser scaup.
I often see dolphins here but they are usually so far out in the bay that they look like little dots. This morning there were two that came swimming close to the pier. They were feeding and herding the fish close to the shallow part to feed easier. They splashed around for a few minutes before heading back out to the bay.
The dolphins headed straight into the floating ducks and off they went.
An osprey and a Forster’s tern flew close to the pier.
Far across the bay I could see an eagle chasing an osprey. The eagle was after his fish which he stole from the osprey but then took off in the opposite direction.
When I first got to the pier it was clear blue skies but later the clouds moved in.
My first stop of the morning was at the water treatment plant in Tarpon Springs in late February. I knew the ducks that hang out there in the winter would be heading north before too long. The majority of the ducks were redhead ducks but you never know what you can find mixed in.
There were a handful of lesser scaup floating together away from the redheads.
Far away there were two female buffleheads.
I stopped by the eagle’s nest just north of Tarpon Springs. I pulled over and got out and quickly shot the above before hopping back in the car. There’s no parking along this road and the parking lot at the nearby park was too far away for me to walk so I didn’t stay. These twin babies were much older than the ones in my neighborhood. I didn’t see any adults in my quick stop but I’m sure they were nearby hunting for food.
Another stop was nearby Anclote Gulf Park. The fishing pier is right in the parking lot so I took a quick walk onto the pier. It was a quiet morning here but I managed to see an osprey taking a bath farther down the shore. (Notice the blurry kingfisher sitting on a log in the upper right corner of the 2 middle pictures. I was wishing I was closer to get him as well)
One more stop as I circled back towards home was the Starkey Market just north of me. I had never been before and it was fun to check out the cows next door before going in and getting some vegetables to cook for dinner that night.
I was heading north to Tarpon Springs for a walk and decided to stop by the water reclamation facility to see if the winter ducks were here. There were a lot of ducks but not as many as in past years. The water pond is huge and they really need to be on the far right side to get any shots of them. They were almost in the middle of the pond the morning I stopped. They were mostly redheads and a few lesser scaup mixed in.
There were a few stragglers along the fence and I realized this was a greater scaup with that round bright green head and almost white sides. This was a first for me.
Not too far away were a few lesser scaup as well.
After shooting the ducks I was on my way to Craig Park for a walk around the bayou. Last year at this time I had seen two manatees in the small bayou and was hoping to see some again this year. After a few minutes I saw 2 snouts come up for air.
There were at least 10 manatees in the water. They didn’t come close to the sea wall since the water was low but you could see their backs coming up as they dove back down in the water. Here were 4 different backs. The top one had a lot of algae on it. The 2nd one had only a few barnacles on it. The 3rd one had some algae and a lot of boat scrapes. The last one had a clean back.
There was one with a lot of barnacles on his back but for some reason I only got a picture of his tail. I went back a few weeks later and they were still there. I guess the shallow water in the bayou stays fairly warm so they spend a good part of the coldest months here.
The big kapok tree in Safety Harbor was blooming in late February. Much earlier than last year. I was driving by and saw the moon going down behind it so I had to pull over and snap a few.
After leaving the kapok tree I decided to swing by the fishing pier for a quick walk. There were a few manatees coming up for air.
A female lesser scaup cruising by.
I saw this osprey fishing for breakfast far out in the bay. He pulled up a big one and as he was flying away he dropped it. I was hoping he would try for another fish but he just flew over my head and far out of sight. Maybe he was embarrassed.
One day I was coming home and saw two red faces pop up from a pond in my neighborhood. They were hanging out along the golf course. I have since seen them several times but not since late February. I’m thinking maybe they are nesting but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
There’s a fenced in section of woods at the end of my street and when I’m out walking I always look down this open spot, thinking I’ll never see anything in here but it’s a pretty spot. One morning I could just make out 2 deer in between the trees.
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.
A few of the wintering ducks at Possum Branch Preserve, a lesser scaup and a horned grebe. They were both far out in the channel that runs along the preserve.
A moorhen posing on a tree branch in the pond. Seems a little dangerous standing up there with all of the hawks and eagles that could come by.
The robins were still hanging around in early February. They were picking off the few remaining mulberries left on the tree.
At least two sora rails were spending the winter in the pond.
This is the 2nd winter I’ve seen a Virginia rail here. He’s pretty skittish and rarely comes out from the reeds. After standing there for a while, he finally came out for a few minutes before running back into hiding. He’s much prettier than the sora rail.
The fields along the trail was starting to get over-grown in late May at Possum Branch Preserve. Once the grass gets knee high it’s a little creepy to veer off the trail and get close to the marsh.
Baby bluebirds hanging out in a dead tree. Looks like they were just learning to fly.
This guy (male lesser scaup) should have already flown north by mid-May. Not sure why he was still hanging around but he wasn’t there the last time I was at the preserve.
The view from the edge of one of the ponds.
I stopped by the local eagles nest on the way home that’s in a utility tower. I was checking to see if I could see any juvenile eagles hanging around but only the adult was sitting on the tower. Any babies could have been gone by then.
The lesser scaup stayed in the middle of the lake.
Friends hanging out together.
The geese stick together.
There’s always a green heron at one end of the lake.
I hadn’t been to Crescent Lake Park in downtown St. Pete in a long time. I had to run some errands near there right before Christmas so I brought my camera along and walked around the lake early that morning before my errands. Nothing new there but it was a nice morning out.