Ducks and swans at Lake Mirror

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What a pretty pair. These are the only two black necked swans at Lake Morton.

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Male wood duck snoozing as he’s cruising.

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One of the fairly new mandarin ducks that live at Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland. These ducks are not native here. They were acquired by the city since they look “pretty”.

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Now he’s just showing off. When I first saw the couple early this spring they had just been placed on the lake. They were very skittish and stayed far away from the other ducks and people. This trip they were in front of the crowd when people were feeding the ducks. They came close to the edge so I guess they are getting used to the place.

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Female mandarin duck.

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A new duck! The city now has two shelducks. They are very pretty. Although, they don’t look that much different from all of the other hybrid mallards that are there. I was wondering how you would buy a duck pair.  You can buy a pair of shelducks on efowl.com for $175.00. Interesting.

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They were not shy. They came close the edge of the lake.

I had heard about the new ducks at Lake Mirror and stopped by there recently on my way home from Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s only a 15 minute drive from the reserve. Lake Mirror is smaller than Lake Morton, which is only a couple of streets over. Both have swans and ducks that live there. It was a perfect beautiful day in late October and I wasn’t quite ready to go home. The area around the lake was packed with people. Everyone was out enjoying the day and tons of people were feeding the ducks. It will be interesting to see if the new couple have babies next spring.

Camera Critters

A hovering kingfisher – Skywatch Friday

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Standing on the edge of the lake watching an osprey go by, I saw a belted kingfisher out of the corner of my eye and was able to catch him.

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Several times he whizzed by. Male kingfishers have an all white stomach. Female ones have a rust color stripe across their stomach.

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He flew far out in the middle of the lake and was hovering.

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He spots something.

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Down he goes in a deep dive. He hit the water but did not come up with a fish.

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He flew around and came back, hovering again.

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He hovered for a few minutes then took off over the trees. That was the last I saw of him that morning. Kingfishers are “snow” birds down here. They only stay for the winter and then head back north to have their babies in the summer. I started  seeing them in early October. Every winter we have one that visits our dock a couple of times. I haven’t seen her yet but it’s still early. They have a very distinctive voice but are very skittish.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Great Blue Heron Day

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There were two great blue herons sitting together on this tree in the middle of the lake. I think they were already working on a nest.

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After he stretched his wings, he had an itch.

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This one had a siren (a type of eel with feet) in his beak.

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It was a big siren!

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He struggled for a few minutes with it.

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Down the hatch. It looks like it’s stuck in his throat.

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A perfect pose. Another one chilling on the trail.

This Saturday morning at Circle B Bar Reserve felt like Great Blue Heron day. They were everywhere. I felt like there were more at the park than I have ever seen before. Last spring we had a pair build a nest and raise a baby right on the trail. Here’s hoping for another nest or maybe more this year.

Plovers and terns and gulls, Oh my!

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Another banded piping plover. There’s been a lot of them hanging around Fort Desoto this fall. Several birders have been keeping tabs on them and reporting them as they travel through.

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I sat down on the beach and watched him go about his morning.

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He was eating something goopy looking.

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Portrait of a sandwich tern.

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I think this is a Forster’s tern in winter feathers, hanging around the boat ramp.

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Sandwich terns all lined up, waiting for boats to come back with bait fish.

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“Who let all of the sandwich terns into my park??” says the loud laughing gull.

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The spotted sandpipers are back for the winter, sporting their winter feathers.

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Laughing gulls lose their black feathers on their head during the winter.

Lots of little birds on the beach at Fort Desoto in early October. Nothing unusual though.

Camera Critters

Slow morning at Fort Desoto

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Typical butterfly on the flower shot.

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It was a slow morning. Not too many birds on the trails.

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Even the beaches are quiet with the same ole birds. Sandwich terns where everywhere.

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This laughing gull was picking up trash on the beach.

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“Lady, can you take to the garbage can?”

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The usual oystercatcher on the beach.

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Not usual, we saw two parakeets near the fishing pier. These look like they were someone’s pets. They aren’t the usual monk or nanday parakeets we seeing flying around the park.

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A juvenile starling on the wire.

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There were large flocks of starlings flying around the park.

It was a quiet morning at Fort Desoto in mid-September. We went early to walk around looking for birds and then went to the beach with our beach chairs and books to read. Even though fall migration was just starting we saw nothing in the woods. Even the beaches seemed empty, of both birds and tourists. It was a beautiful sunny day even though it was still miserably hot. We spent most of our time there in the water watching the stingrays go by.

Green textures in the woods

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Raindrops on leaves.

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Fir tree

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Is this duckweed? The swamp was covered in it.

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Lichen on the moss.

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Things that fall on the plant.

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Palm leaves in the sun.

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Fern growing on a dead branch.

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Tiny lizard on a palm leaf.

It was a really slow morning at Chesnut Park. Walking along the boardwalk I started to notice the different green things in the swamp. The water levels were high since it’s been raining most days during August. I wouldn’t have been walking through there if there wasn’t a boardwalk. I was trying to be creative and find different things to take pictures of but it was so hot and muggy it was hard to focus. I only got a few things that morning but I’m going to start paying attention to the scenery at the parks.

Tiny wild critters at the zoo

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This is what I did while killing time at the zoo waiting for the baby elephant to wake up from her nap. I got a few shots of her before she plopped down in the mud and went to sleep next to mom. The volunteer at the exhibit said she would not sleep long, maybe 15-20 minutes at a time. So I started looking around, finding things to take pictures of. There were lots of butterflies and bees buzzing around so this is what I came up with. There’s always something to snap there. I looked for grasshoppers which are usually everywhere in the summer but came up empty.