A bike ride through the neighborhood

In mid-April I headed out for a quick bike ride around the neighborhood. I wasn’t expecting to find much but I still put my camera in my backpack. As soon as I got down the street I saw the above swallow tailed kite flying around in circles and followed him farther down the street to the utility field. I was thinking he was going to head past the trees and disappear but I stopped and pulled my camera out and waited anyway. He did come back around and for once I was ready. He was still far away but I was able to get one shot of him eating something while flying, assuming it’s a dragonfly.

The swallow tailed kite flew away and as I was putting my camera back in the backpack I saw something fly into the bushes out of the corner of my eye. It was an eastern kingbird. A first sighting in my neighborhood. He flew over to the sign and posed for a while.

I stopped by the only osprey nest in the neighborhood that’s actually in a tree. There are tons of them here but the rest are on a platform or utility pole. I still haven’t seen a baby in this nest but it’s up high and they could be sleeping.

Other usual neighborhood birds include a yellow crowned night heron, an anhinga sunning himself and a juvenile little blue heron that is just starting to turn blue.

I saw an adult eagle flying from the other end of the neighborhood and land on a utility tower with another eagle.

Of course the tower was right into the sun but I could see them out in the field sitting on the tower. I’m thinking this is the other couple that has a nest farther down the field.

Of course a bike ride wouldn’t be complete without an alligator sighting or several. This was a tiny one sitting on the bank of a small pond, almost blending in.

SkyWatch Friday

More shots from the bird sanctuary

I’m finally getting around to posting the additional pictures from my visit to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in late January. The wild great egrets were just starting to nest in the trees over the exhibits. They nest here since the eggs will be somewhat safe from predators and they may get a free snack.

This night heron was sleeping in the mangrove trees. It was a little chilly this morning so he had his face tucked in.

The sanctuary has tons of young night herons since the night herons also nest in the trees and they also nest over the nettings that enclose some of the injured birds. The juveniles look very different from their parents. They are funny to watch and act like clowns.

Looks like one of the injured oystercatchers has a broken wing.

The view from the observation tower at the back of the sanctuary. It’s a rare sight to see the beach so empty. It was chilly and spring break hadn’t started.

SkyWatch Friday

Cruising through the neighborhood

Late one afternoon in mid-February I hopped on my bike and took a spin around the neighborhood. My first stop was the eagle’s nest to see if I could see the babies yet (No, not yet) and then was stopping at all of the ponds to see what else I could find. I came across a sandhill crane couple walking along the golf course near the road. I stopped for a few minutes and watched them as they headed for the back of the golf club.

Today was alligator day in the neighborhood. Four of the ponds I stopped at had alligators snoozing along the bank. Alligators are everywhere in central Florida, if there’s water there is an alligator in there, even if you can’t see him. They are pretty skittish and would jump in the water if I started heading down the grass (no, I would never do that though). If you live here you know to stay away from the edge and keep your pets away as well.

A black crowned night heron snoozing over one of the ponds.

It was a warm afternoon and this great blue heron was already panting from the heat.

I see this great blue heron almost everyday near the entrance to my subdivision. He’s got his pretty breeding colors on his face. I kept hoping to see a nest nearby and if there is one it’s hiding far down the creek.

Far across the utility field I could see some nanday parakeets.

The sun was going down on my way home.

SkyWatch Friday

More crazy birds at the rookery

A juvenile night heron sits alone at the front of the rookery. He’s been there on my last 2 visits. They nest deep in the bushes so I can’t see them as little babies.

A snowy egret still flirting.

The cormorants and anhingas nest high up inthe cypress trees so it’s a little harder to see those young babies. As they get older the bigger babies end up down on the rookery and Mom feeds them there. The top one is a cormorant. They have orange curved beaks and hook their fish. The middle shot are both anhingas (male on the left in all black and the female on the right has a brown chest and neck). They have pointed beaks and stab their fish. The juveniles with the great egret in the bottom shot are both anhingas.

A female grackle getting some bugs. They also nest deep in the bushes.

A wood stork getting a drink in the pond.

I saw a tricolored heron fly over to the top of a tree away from the rookery. She’s got food in her beak and she’s trying to get her young one to fly over to be fed. She was yelling at the baby to fly across the pond to her to get food instead of her bringing it to the baby.

The baby eventually flew over and got his meal.

All of the tricolored heron babies that I saw were almost fully grown. They all had their adult colors in their feathers but they still had those baby spikes on the top of their heads and were still squawking for food.

Things in the yard

Blooming at the end of March in the front yard.

I was out watering my hanging baskets and saw the inchworm. I had to run in and get my camera and macro lens. Later that day I saw the green lizard and ran out to get shots of it. We have a ton of brown lizards and it’s rare to see a green one.

I’ve been seeing a lot of woodpeckers in the backyard. At one point there were 3 hanging out in different spots.

Occasionally I get a bluebird stopping by. They mostly hang out in my neighbor’s yard several townhomes down. These were all taken through the window. They are very skittish.

I was pretty excited to get a shot of a hooded warbler in the yard through the window. I saw one back in October as well but only got a blurry shot of him.I wonder if it’s the same one.

Pine warblers and northern parulas were stopping by the bird bath. I haven’t seen either in a while now so I hope they come back this fall.

Blue jays are always at the feeder.

A titmouse sits on top of the bluebird box. So far no birds have nested in it.

Turkeys were strutting by our windows in late March/early April. The first one was right in front of the window, the bottom 2 were taken across the golf course. I think these are 3 different ones since they have different face colors. I haven’t seen any in a while now. They may be nesting.

Down the street I found a juvenile night heron. Next year I’ll have to look for some nests early in the season.

Largo Nature Preserve in early April

It’s always fun to see baby mallards (although with that yellow beak on the Mom, these may be mottled ducks). There were two families at Largo Nature Preserve in early April. One was feeding in the water and the other was walking around on the walking path. They eventually made it down to the water.

The two northern shovelers were still there. They are probably up north for the summer by now.

Looking up in the utility tower I saw a young eagle. I often see adult eagles sitting here but today it was a younger one. Maybe 4 years old? They don’t get a full white head until their 5th year. This one still had a little brown on his. Maybe he was born in the area.

While watching the eagle, a Canadian goose flies by. They hang out on the golf course along the park so it’s not a surprise.

Across the canal a cattle egret had a dragonfly in his beak.

Brown thrashers are common here. This one was singing away.

Night herons can usually be found napping along the boardwalk.

A monk parakeet coming down to the ground to get a snack.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

January visit to the “Bar”

I was finally back out at Circle B Bar Reserve in late January. I hadn’t been since the middle of December. I missed the trails.

The “hot” bird to get at that time was the male northern harrier (or gray ghost as some people called him). I had gotten some extremely far away pictures in December (pin dots really) and was hoping to get a little closer this time. He still stayed far out in the marsh this trip as well but made a few quick passes closer to the trail. He’s cruising along the marsh looking for food (lizards, etc).

I could see a few hogs out in the marsh as well. I call them Oreos since they have the color pattern of Oreo cookies.

I’m not sure what this was. Some type of insect nest on the bushes?

The usual birds were there: woodstork, night heron, blue gray gnatcatcher, yellow rumped warbler and a pied grebe.

They were spraying some type of chemical to get rid of invasive plants. I hate seeing this. Especially here.

Cute squirrel in the parking lot when I got back to my car.

Walking in the drizzle

It was cold and drizzly right after Christmas but I was determined to get out for a walk. I headed to the Safety Harbor fishing pier as the rain was slowing down. It was barely a drizzle when I got there. There were a few other people out, joggers and dog walkers, as well. I left my camera at home and only had my phone so I was traveling light.

People have started putting locks on the fairly new boardwalk nearby. I guess they are copying the Love Locks bridge in Paris where people write their names and loved ones on the lock, lock it on the bridge (to lock in your love) and throw away the key. There were over one million locks in bridges around Paris and it was starting to do damage to some of them. All of the locks were taken down and now it’s illegal to do so. I’m assuming these will eventually get taken down as well. Many were starting to rust.

The sites around the spa and downtown Safety Harbor.

A great blue heron walking along the dock at the marina and a night heron were a few of the birds hanging around the marina.

My Corner of the World

Early November walk

It was a beautiful morning for a walk at Circle B Bar Reserve in early November.

A pretty mushroom on the trail. I rarely see them with color.

Critters on branches include a black bellied whistling duck, a tricolored heron and an anhinga that looks like she’s going through a full moult.

The whistlers have been regulars along the trail during the winter.

I thought this juvenile night heron was sleeping but he popped his head up after a few  seconds. That pattern on his wings is very cool and goes well with his bright orange eyes.

Far across the lake I could see both eagles sitting high up in a cypress tree.

I saw the crowd as I was walking down the trail and realized they were watching a tiny alligator cross the trail. He looked so tiny compared to the big ones along the trail. It was almost comical to watch him cross.

My Corner of the World

The moon was still up

There’s something magical about being at Circle B Bar Reserve when the sun is coming up. Besides it not being crowded or hot yet, the birds and critters are very active this early in the morning. It was my first time back since April and it felt good to be out on the trails. I usually don’t come during the summer because it is so hot and the main trails are closed due to alligators nesting on them.

Turning around, I could see the moon still up in the sky.

Of course I had to stop and take pictures of my favorite spot before heading down the trails. The last one is with my phone and you can see how big the marsh is on this trail.

The great blue heron was sitting right on the trail. I walked right under him and he didn’t move. I stopped and snapped the 2nd one with my phone so you can see how close he was.

After passing him I turned around to see if he had flown off. Nope, he’s still there watching the sun come up.

A few fly bys. A night heron and a pair of cormorants.

Some of the tiny birds, a common yellowthroat (who looks more like a masked bandit) and some blue gray gnatcatchers.

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