All kinds of critters.

Tussock moth caterpillars are fairly common in late March but I’ve never seen this many at one place. I usually only see one or two. At the Florida Botanical Gardens the boardwalk was full of them. I tried to keep my distance as I was taking pictures of them. While they are pretty and cool looking, they can leave a nasty rash if you brush up against them. I kept checking to make sure one hadn’t fallen on my backpack.

They turn into these coccoons before turning into a moth. The leaves on the palm trees around the boardwalk were full of these as well.

White peacock butterflies are very common but I think they are pretty.

After leaving the botanical gardens I headed to nearby McGough Nature Park to look for migrating birds. I first stopped at the turtle pond and saw two turtles climbing a tree. They got about half way up before heading back down.

I also watched this raccoon climb up a tree and then head back down.

The bottle brush trees near the entrance were in full bloom. I stopped to snap this butterfly and then heard the faint sound of hummingbirds whizzing by.

There were 4 hummingbirds feeding on the two trees. They were only feeding on the back side that hangs over the lake so it was a challenge to get them feeding. They would rest high up on the front and then go back to feed.

After standing there for an hour I only got the above two shots of them feeding. It was very frustrating to watch them fly to the back of the trees and disappear.

They have several resident injured birds that live on the property, all taken care of by volunteers. This barred owl was watching his person talking to him. He seemed to understand every word she was saying. They were sitting outside in front of the turtle pond.

It was still a little early for migrating birds so I didn’t find any of them.

Color and turtles in October

Yellow and orange from my trip to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo last month.

The large cactus in the front of the gardens had big blooms on them . The details inside the bloom are amazing. The cactus also had this big pink ball which I assume are the blooms before they open up. Or, maybe they are the seed pod after the bloom dies off?

Little critters. Bees had taken over that bird house.

I found another face in the tree along the boardwalk.

I stopped by and said hello to the resident wood ducks.

After leaving the botanical gardens, I stopped at McGough Park to see if there were any fall migrating birds. I didn’t see many birds but the turtle pond was full of turtles taking a sun nap.

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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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Butterflies and turtles.

You can usually find butterflies here in central Florida all year but in early March the gardens were full of them at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Lots of colors fluttering by.

It was a quiet birding morning. The highlights were a pileated woodpecker across the pond and a cute grebe not acting skittish.

This guy ignored me while he ate his breakfast.

After a walk around the gardens I stopped at the nearby McGough Park to visit the turtles. I thought the ones above were kissing but I think it’s just the angle.

Turtles were everywhere. On the grass and climbing on the rocks.

A shot of the turtle pond with my phone.

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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.

One last visit to the turtle pond.

The squirrels were getting frisky in late May at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.

Not many birds at the gardens. A pileated woodpecker and a young moorhen.

Grasshoppers are everywhere right now. They can wipe out a plant in no time. You can see them eating the leaves in both of these shots.

It was a quiet morning at the gardens but I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet so I went for a quick walk at nearby McGough Park and to visit the turtles there. Most of the trails here are very narrow so I stayed off those to keep away from having to pass people. I probably won’t make it back to this park until next spring.

The wooden owl in the parking lot.

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A new bird at the turtle pond.

I stopped by my new favorite turtle pond at McGough Nature Park in early May.  I went there looking for birds but had to stop and watch the turtles napping for a few minutes.

I saw this hummingbird go by in a flash and landed on a branch right in front of me on the trail. She only stayed for a few seconds and then took off.

This black and white warbler was looking for bugs.

A redstart in the bushes.

A red eyed vireo high up in the tree.

My first yellow throated vireo. I watched him for a while as he picked up worms and caterpillars in the tree. This beautiful bird was having a feast. Fattening up before he heads north for the summer.  I found him near the closed playground.

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This park should be called “Turtle Park”.

Different patterns on the mangrove leaves along the boardwalk.

I finally was able to see a few migrating birds coming through in late April. Since the best place to see spring migration was closed (Fort Desoto Park) here in the area, we were thinking we wouldn’t get to see any birds coming through. Since some of the smaller parks were still open I was able to see a few birds. They were very skittish and stayed hidden in the bushes. Above are a hooded warbler, a redstart and an ovenbird (or at least I think it’s an ovenbird. May be a thrush of some type?).

 

I had not been to McGough Nature Park in Largo in years. It’s a small park that sits on the intercoastal waterway. I had heard there were a few migrating birds there so I headed out not expecting much. I had forgotten that the park has this great turtle pond. There’s a small dock that goes out over the pond and benches all around it. Turtles were all along the bank and it was very peaceful watching them hang out.

My Saturday morning “just being outside” shot from the boardwalk.

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