Hooting at the moon

I stopped by a park in mid-February to check on the owls that nest there every year. They had been sitting on eggs for a while but I wasn’t sure of the exact days. No sign of a baby yet but I found both of the parents. Mom was far down in the nest and I could just barely see the tops of her ears.  Dad was sitting close by. It was late in the day and he was just waking up from a long nap.

He took off and flew to a tree nearby and was sitting out in the open. He started hooting. I realized that they don’t hoot with their beaks open but the white part of their chest fluffs up from the vibration. It was cool to sit quietly in the woods right before dark and watch him hoot.

I realized the moon was coming up way off across the bay.  After a few minutes he took off heading towards the moon.

Mom was still hiding in that big tree as the sun went down.

Growing up a skimmer

In mid-July the baby black skimmers were growing up quickly and heading out on their own. Many were already down at the water line and practicing their wing flaps.

There were still a few younger ones including the one on the left with a young royal tern and much older juvenile skimmer on the right.

Soon the babies will start flying and leave along with the parents and then all that’s left on the beaches are those annoying laughing gulls, looking to steal some kid’s sandwich or chips.

A small part of the skimmer army, lined up along the water.

Photographing New Zealand

Fun at the zoo in June.

The last remaining blue heron babies at the zoo in Tampa. Across the alligator exhibit I spotted a young tricolored heron looking grumpy. He still had that fuzz on the top of his head.

Some of the resident critters at the zoo.

One of my favorite birds in the aviary had babies this spring. The bottom 2 are offspring of the top one.

A wild mockingbird eating the berries.

 

A few fun things from Zoo Tamp in June.

Growing up at work

For several years an osprey couple have raised a family in a nest on top of a light post in the parking lot at work. The nest is fairly high up so we don’t see the babies until they are pretty big. I kept my camera in my car and in April I caught Mom feeding them when I was leaving. One night Dad was right over my car feeding himself.

Later I realized there were 3 babies. This was the first year we’ve had triplets. Now I know why Dad was eating alone across the parking lot.

Another week goes by and boy was that nest crowded. At this point the babies are as big as the parents.

All 3 grew up and eventually left the nest. Now in early July, the babies are still visiting the nest. I’ve been seeing one or two sitting on the nest in the morning but they are gone when I leave.

We had some Canadian geese hanging around the parking lot as well in late spring.

 

Zoo Tampa in early June

Fun at the zoo in early June. The manatees are back at the zoo which is good and bad thing. The zoo has been updating their water system in the manatee hospital so any injured manatees had to go to Homosassa Springs for rehabilitation for 6 months. Now that the manatee hospital is updated they can take in injured manatees. The bad thing is that the manatees have to be here at all. It’s great that visitors can see these big guys up close and that the zoo treats them but it’s sad that so many are injured due to boat strikes or sick from red tide.

On top of the manatee pool, a few juvenile blue herons are learning how to catch their own fish. These were all probably born in the nests over the alligator exhibit next door.

Vultures were drying off in the bear exhibit. They do this in the morning to easily warm their body up. Not sure why, it was already 85 degrees at 10am. The bear eventually came over to check them out. The vultures didn’t fly off but just moved over. They didn’t seem to scared of the bear.

The last of the wild baby blue heron birds that were growing up over the alligator exhibit.

Photographing New Zealand

The clown babies at Gatorland.

For some reason, the tricolored herons seem to be the last birds to nest at the bird rookery at Gatorland. Maybe they take over great egret nests once they are finished using them.  There were a few nests that had older babies including the ones above.

Some were just a few days old.

Some of the older ones still being fed by parents.

These triplets, who were growing up in a nest on a palm tree right up against the boardwalk, were pretty funny to watch. They are so comical at this age. These were all taken during my last visit in late May.