Almost grown duckies

I went out for a quick walk around the neighborhood pond early one morning before work in July. There wasn’t many ducks in the pond and I was thinking “Where did they go?” when I turned around and saw Blondie walking across the street with her babies and heading for the pond.

I was excited to see all 6 of her babies were doing well and were almost grown up. They hopped in the pond and swam around looking for food and preening.

I also saw another creme colored duck that was a little darker. I have to wonder if she’s one of Blondie’s babies from previous years.

My Corner of the World

Working from home

More storms were coming in mid-July. It had been raining for days and Thunderstorm Elsa was about to hit the Tampa bay area in the middle of the night. Earlier in the afternoon, it had been upgraded to a Hurricane 1 but we got lucky and the storm fell apart right before it hit and we only got rain. Two days before, the city was getting ready for the storms and moved all of the cranes working along the Howard Frankland bridge closer into the bay. They tied them all together to create one big crane raft. It was weird to see driving across the bridge. I crossed this bridge everyday for 18 years going to work but now I rarely do since I’ve been working from home.

With all of the rain we had, mushrooms were popping up everywhere around the  neighborhood. The orange ones were in our mulch.

This guy was squirming his way across the driveway.

One morning before work I went for a quick walk in the neighborhood. I saw this muscovy duck sitting high up in a tree. I’ve seen them in trees before but not usually that high up. Then I saw the egg sitting right where the branches split off. Sadly it probably fell at some point.

Back at my house, we had 4 ducks hanging out in our backyard for several days. I think they were looking for fallen bird seed. The doves usually eat that pretty quick so there isn’t much left for the ducks.

While sitting at my desk in the bedroom I had been seeing this lizard walking across the screen almost every day for a week. She has that same short tail so I knew it was the same one. She kept me company for a while. Of course one day I had to stand up and snap a picture.

Then one day I saw this. I guess she found a boyfriend. After this I didn’t see her again. I miss that short tailed lizard.

At lunch I can usually catch squirrels chasing each other across our screened porch. While it’s cute, long term they can do damage to the screens so I try and chase them off but it doesn’t always work.

I’m still working from home. We were suppose to go back in the office, at least part time, in the middle of this month but it has been pushed out to early 2022. I don’t miss sitting in traffic, especially crossing that bridge for 45 minutes every night. If it was crawling, I would look for dolphins or count the osprey eating fish on the light posts (22 was the highest count several years ago). I don’t miss seeing my co-workers since we have video calls on Teams several times a day.

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Blondie and her babies

My favorite neighborhood duck came by our dock for a visit in mid-June. I call her Blondie (thinking she is a light colored hybrid mallard) and she been hanging around the neighborhood for several years. I saw her with the babies one afternoon and ran out to the dock with my camera.

Her babies were so cute, swimming around our dock. I wonder if the lighter color ones will keep their creme color or turn dark brown once they grow up. The all yellow muscovy babies turn black once they grow up but I’m not sure if these mallard will. There’s a light brown colored duck that hangs out in a neighborhood pond that could be one of Blondie’s grown babies.

I know they were looking for a handout since some of the neighbors feed them but I wasn’t going to start that.

It was fun watching the babies swim around with Mom.

Come back soon!

Yard birds in May

Doves sleeping on our fence. Taken through the kitchen window.

This night heron was hanging out on our dock, staying busy preening.

An ibis flew in and landed on the same dock.

The night heron was not happy with the ibis near his spot and chased him off. I just happened to be walking out of the side of the house to sneak around to the back to take pictures of the heron when I caught the ibis landing.

A few minutes later the night heron flew down to the water. It was an extreme low tide and you could see some of the rocks exposed. He was looking for tiny crabs on the rocks.

A mockingbird was eating something off my neighbor’s bottle brush tree.

A red bellied woodpecker in the tree.

Not an exciting bird but the house sparrows nest nearby and I always get a lot of them at my feeder so I consider them “my” birds. They are not skittish at all.

I was hosing down the front porch early one Sunday morning when I looked down the driveway and saw a duck couple drinking the runoff water. I know they want a handout but we don’t feed the ducks here. On one side it would be fun if they nested in our bushes but on the other side, our driveway would be covered in piles of duck poop.

My Corner of the World

Blondie pays a visit

On June 1st, Blondie brought her 10 kids around in front of our dock. They were busy trying to pick bugs off the sea wall. I wondered if those lighter ones would also grow up to be light mallards but I didn’t get a chance to see.

Two weeks later she came back by but only had 3 babies with her. The three were scattered so I only got a shot of the one. They were all of the darker brown ones. It’s sad to think of all of those lost babies but there are a lot of hawks, owls and even an eagle hanging out in the neighborhood.

The backyard in June

There’s a duck couple that’s been spending afternoons sleeping under our tree in the backyard. Sometimes I peek out the bedroom window to check on them but they are very skittish. They can see me barely move the blinds.

A few of the birds that have been visiting the bird feeder.

I looked out the window and saw something moving in the channel. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the dock to catch 2 manatees rolling around at the end of the channel. After I snapped the above they started heading out to the bay.

Some of the critters in the yard including this juvenile black racer that was climbing up the wall next to the front door.

A faint rainbow in the backyard. It’s the beginning of rainbow season with the summer rains starting in June.

An osprey on my neighbor’s sailboat mast just after the rain.

The sun was trying to peek out.

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Mama goose

Some of the water birds at Horsepower for Kids during my visit in mid-March.

One of these doesn’t belong. An ibis hanging out with the geese on the edge of the pond.

It’s always fun to see the peacocks showing off.

I saw this goose sleeping on the grass in the shade. I was wondering why she wasn’t sitting on her egg, hoping she realized it was there and wasn’t going to reject it.

Later I saw why. She was sitting on a lot of eggs and they all didn’t fit. She did move the one egg closer to her after she got up and stretched. She’s going to be a busy mom.

Lena’s ducks

Every couple of weeks we visit Brett’s aunt Lena that lives in a nursing home. The property is really nice and includes a small duck pond. We take her around the pond and sit on the bench watching the ducks swim around. I recently saw a redhead duck there all alone among the mallards.

These four ducks always stay close together.

Someone has been feeding them because as soon as we sat down, they came out of the water and right up to us.  They were looking for a snack which we didn’t have. Other than the one that kept banging on my shoe when I wasn’t looking,  they were pretty docile. All of these were taken with my phone.

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A spoony in my neighborhood

Recently I was talking a walk around my neighborhood late one afternoon and saw the above spoonbill in my neighborhood pond. I think this is the first time I’ve seen one here. I snapped the above with my phone.

The next day I threw my camera in the car and sure enough, he was still there so I stopped and took a few more pictures. These were taken with my 300mm lens.  He stayed for about a week before leaving for good.

The usual ducks were there. My favorite mallard couple.

In late December there was a spotted sandpiper on my neighbor’s seawall. He spent the afternoon picking bugs out of the grass.

A mallard in our backyard.

Duck controversy in the neighborhood.

There are several muscovy duck families in the neighborhood. Many young babies were running around in May and June. The above was too sad. I was driving home from work and saw these babies eating something in the middle of the street. They were eating another baby that had been hit by a car. Muscovy ducks are an invasive species and are not native to Florida. Yet they are everywhere. They can be mean and aggressive and leave big messy poop piles in driveways and on sidewalks. They try to drive out the mallards. Many of the neighbors want to call in a trapper to remove them (they can’t be relocated and would be euthanized). For years people were feeding them which led to the increase in numbers in the neighborhood. There is now a huge campaign to stop feeding them. Recently ducks crossing the road were driven over on 6 different occasions. Someone caught a glimpse of it on their front door camera but all you can see is a blurry SUV so we’re not sure who was doing it. Might not have been a resident. The neighborhood is divided. Those who don’t mind a little duck poop want them to stay and those who want them all gone (more will just move in anyway).

Several families with different ages of babies came running when I stopped my car to snap the above with my phone.

In my neighbor’s yard, these guys came running as well.

On a Saturday afternoon I went outside to get the mail and these mallard were napping in our driveway. They jumped up when they saw me but I’m not even going to feed the mallards.

Photographing New Zealand