Disappointing visit to Medard Park

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Some type of moth on the leaves.

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Leftovers.

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Some animal lost his meal on the boardwalk. There was a pile of half digested berries. The moths were chowing down.

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Up close.

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A black bellied whistling duck in Florida in July! This is a first for me. I usually only see them at Circle B Bar Reserve in the winter. I guess this one was staying for the summer. He wasn’t alone. Another one was hiding in the reeds.

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Tiny flowers in the grass.

It was hot. I had not been to Medard Park in east Tampa in a long time. I had heard the park sprayed to get rid of the apple snails (which I know is invasive) but now the limpkins don’t have as much to eat. I didn’t see a single limpkin which was very disappointing. I also heard the snail kites which have nested there for a couple of summers were gone.  The lake was full from all of the rain. The area around the boardwalk looked different. Almost barren of any wildlife. Maybe it’s just the time of year (although other parks are still pretty busy). Last year I got some of my favorite snail kite pictures at this park. I might have to scratch this park off my list. It’s just too far to drive.

Shine the Divine

My first yellow-headed blackbird and some boring other birds

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A horrible picture of my first sighting of a yellow-headed blackbird. Birders had been posting about seeing this fairly rare bird here in a neighbor almost an hour from my house for a few weeks. He had only been sighted late in the day so I finally headed out there on a recent Sunday afternoon while hubby was watching football. I looked around for an hour and didn’t see him so I left and ran over to Medard Park which is close by for a quick walk over the boardwalk. I headed back to the pond to look for the rare bird again and after looking for almost 2 hours, he showed up right before dark. And, he was right in the middle of a pond so this is extremely cropped.

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On my way into Medard Park, I see a few vultures eating an armadillo.

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I think this is a caspian tern, just coming out of the water.

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This anhinga was catching bait fish right below the boardwalk. Since I had my fixed lens I couldn’t zoom in and this was all I got of her. The fish looks nice and tasty!

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Due to the overabundance of apple snails, the park is full of limpkins.

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Great blue heron shaking off some water.

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This alligator was laying in the pond in the neighborhood where I saw the yellow-headed blackbird. How’d you like to walk your dog around that thing? Yes, people were out walking their dogs around the pond while I was there.

So this is what I do when Hubby is watching football (or playing golf). Drive around town looking for birds. It was too nice an afternoon to be indoors doing chores (which is what I should have been doing). The chores usually wait until a weeknight after work when it’s dark anyway.

LorikArt

The kite was getting a snail.

A snail kite comes sailing over my head, right into the sun.

He takes a dive towards the water. Looks like he’s heading straight down.

He lands halfway into the water.

He comes up out of the water flapping his wings hard.

Success! He flies off with a snail.

Away he goes in the other direction but you can see he has a good grip on the snail. He flew off to the other side of the lake to enjoy his snack.  I saw this happening on my 2nd trip to Medard Park on a Sunday afternoon. I had been there for a while when he came by. The sun was about to go down behind the trees. They seem to be more active in the early morning so I’m going to try and head out there early again. I don’t know if these snail kites will stay here all winter. There’s plenty of apple snails for them to eat so maybe they will.

YourSundayBest  LorikArt

A new park with tons of water birds.

Great blue heron flies right over my head.

This purple gallinule looks like a juvenile. His head isn’t quite dark enough yet.

Alligator was dragging a chunk of leaves around with him. He was swimming close to the boardwalk.

View from the top of the tower. It’s a small boardwalk but packed with birds. It was a nice quiet morning. Only myself and one fisherman to the boardwalk for most of the morning.

The boat ramp was covered with vultures.

They were all over the parking lot. There were signs there that said “Not responsible for the damage caused by vultures to your car”. So what do you do? Do you park under a tree hoping that would cover the car? Or do you park out in the open thinking the vultures would be in the trees? I didn’t have any problems the short time I was there. This problem is probably from people feeding them.

The new park I visited, Medard Park, in east Hillsborough is like a tiny oasis out in the middle of nowhere. I passed strawberry farms, old orange groves  and horse stables on the way there. This park is now known for having snail kites nesting there. They were pretty easy to find along with tons of other birds. The lake was full of great blue herons, limpkins, great egrets, cormorants, and moorhens. I kept seeing a kingfisher wizzing by but he never landed anyway near. Near the tower there were warblers, woodpeckers and blue gray gnatchatchers in the trees. I think I may have to make this park a regular stop this winter. Can’t wait to see what ducks show up to spend the winter here.

YourSundayBest  LorikArt

Found a needle in a haystack (a new bird)

My first sighting of a snail kite. He flew by me on the boardwalk and scooped up a snail. The pink stuff on the end of those sticks in the back are apple snail eggs. The lake was full of them. It looked like the lake had been sprinkled with Pepto Bismal.

Another snail kite flies by me really close. For once I was ready and able to get a decent shot.

He went past me while I was still shooting. Later when I cropped this up I noticed you could see his foot holding on to that snail. He took off across the lake to enjoy his snack.

Female snail kite sitting in some dead mangroves.

Another one flies by and gets a snail!

I had been hearing about some snail kites being seen at Medard park in east Hillsborough county. It’s very rare to have snail kites in this area. I have been meaning to get out there and finally had the chance at the end of September. I’m driving 45 minutes towards the center of the state thinking this is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Looking for a rare bird in this huge park which includes a campground. I always feel like I don’t have that kind of luck. Well, I should have bought a lottery ticket on the way home. I drove around the park for a few minutes trying to decide where to start. I saw a boardwalk that crossed the lake and stopped there. Within minutes of walking on the boardwalk, a snail kite flies right over my head. Minutes later another one flies by. Then I realize a female is sitting in the mangroves close by the boardwalk. Since the apple snail population there has exploded I guess it has attracted these kites to the lake. I heard later that there were two nests across the lake and the juveniles have just fledged. Besides, the snail kites there where other cool birds there so I can’t wait to get back out there.

As I was leaving the park I saw this bird flying up high. I thought it might be a snail kite but when I got home and cropped it up I noticed it looked different. I went through all of the hawks, harriers and falcons in my Stokes Bird guide and couldn’t figure out what it was with that white stomach. If anyone had an idea I’d love to have an ID on it or at least somewhere to start.