Be still my heart

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I had heard that the barred owl couple had two babies that were doing well. I finally made it over to Lettuce Lake in late April. I was thinking it was going to be close to impossible to find them. I was hoping they were in the same area as last year. No sign of them there so I decided to walk around the park for a while. I then saw some men on a tiny dirt trail through the swamp and headed that way. People would say “Are you crazy, heading into the swamp towards some men?” but I recognized them and I knew they knew where the action was. We stood in silence for a while watching the mom feed the baby owl. They said they had not seen the other baby that morning. After a while, they left to go find another bird. For an hour, I stood behind a tree in the swamp watching. I could see people on the main trail going by through the trees. I kept looking around high up in the trees for the other baby. I was going to leave and heard a sound like a sneeze right over my head.  That other baby bird had been right over my head the entire time. I’m surprised he didn’t poop on me. I finally headed home since I had sweated off my two coats of DEET.  The above are a little fuzzy. They were very far away in the shade and these are extremely cropped.

Small critters at Lettuce Lake


A carolina wren looking guilty with that mouthful of greens. He’s building a nest somewhere close by.


A northern parula deep in the woods was chowing on a worm.


A lot of people were looking for the prothonotary warbler that had been reported there earlier in the week. No one had seen it that morning. Right before I left, I saw this yellow bird in the bushes and snapped a quick picture. When I got home I realized it was the prothonotary warbler everyone had been looking for.


Diana, the park ranger showed me this tiny ball high up in a tree in the woods. I had to look through my 300mm lens to see it. When I got home and cropped it up, I realized you could see the tiny blue-gray gnatcatcher sitting on the nest. It looks bigger in the picture but was smaller than a baseball. I can’t imagine you could see the tiny babies until they were ready to fly off.


Dragonfly season is in full swing.


Hanging around.

This was an early morning walk at Lettuce Lake in north Tampa in late April. I went to see if I could find the barred owl family. I found them and a few other birds along the boardwalk. More on the owls later.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

Roly Poly alligator


Oh look, an alligator close to the boardwalk. Of course, he’s not going to move. They never do for me.


Oh wait, I think he moved.


Maybe not.


He is moving! Looks like he’s rolling over in the water. Maybe trying to catch a fish.


He’s opening his mouth wide.


He straightened back up.


He swam off into the shade.

That was exciting. Other people get to see them walking across the trail or eating a turtle. I get to see him take a big gulp of water. Actually, it was the highlight of the morning at Lettuce Lake Park.

Linking to Saturday’s critters

Lettuce Lake in the morning – Skywatch Friday


The moon was still out when I got to the park at 8am.


You would think by these pictures that it was started to feel like fall around here. Oh no, we’re still at 85 degrees. We’ve been getting a lot of rain so I’m not sure why some of the leaves were turning so early.


It was nice to see the red leaves. Something we don’t see often here. Most of the time it goes from green to dead.


Ferns growing on a tree branch.


There were more spiders than birds.


This looked like a big cotton ball in the middle but it’s some kind of spider web.


Little squirrel looking for a handout.


You had to keep an eye out over your head as you walked along the boardwalk. I kept doing spider checks in my hair.


Into the sun.


View of the lake from the tower. Taken with my phone. You can just barely see the moon in the sky.

I had a nice weekend morning walking around Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa. The weather was perfect but the birds and animals were scarce. The swamp was flooded so the wading birds were not around. I got a good 3 hour walk in before heading home for lunch.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Up in the trees and under the boardwalk at Lettuce Lake Park


High up in a tree, it looked like this squirrel was eating a leaf.


I found this anhinga up in a tree next to the observation tower.


I heard a wheezing noise and had to look close to find this black bellied whistling duck high up in a tree. His friend was on the other side of the tree facing the lake.


I don’t know what he was looking at. They do the funniest things.


By 9am, when the sun was starting to shine on the boardwalk, it was so hot steam was coming off the rails.


A view of the boardwalk in the shade.


Down below in the water.


A few little fishies swimming by.


A night heron hiding out in the shade next to the boardwalk.


More steam off the rails. I was drenched in sweat 10 minutes after I got to the park. I barely made it to 2 hours walking around.


Reflections in the lake.


Alligator trying to blend in. He was a tiny one.

L Lake

A shot of the main part of the lake from the observation tower. This was taken with my phone since I only had my 70-200mm lens with me. I was trying to travel light this morning.

Another hot steamy Saturday morning walk. Is it winter yet?????

Quiet morning at Lettuce Lake.


Tricolored heron posing along the lake.


Northern parula hiding in the trees. They were hard to see but I heard them singing all over the park. I’ve seen very few of them this year.


Cool caterpillar on the boardwalk.


Great blue heron behind some old cypress tree stumps along the lake.


Another one walking in the mud.


Vultures flying overhead.



Things were quiet at Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa. I hadn’t been there in a long time but had heard there were baby turkeys there. No sign of the turkeys but I did find a baby barred owl. More on him later.