I thought this was a new bird

No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one.  I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it.  All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.

The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.

A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.

Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.

A little blue heron found a worm in the water.

Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.

He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).

My Corner of the World

A quick walk after work.

At the end of October, before the time changed, I could get out for a quick walk after work before dark. I headed over Safety Harbor hoping to get some lightning shots. I could see the storms south of the causeway but they were heading towards Tampa.

Since it was low tide, there were a few birds walking around in the muck right off the fishing pier, probably eating crabs.

The mangrove crabs are very skittish but I manage to catch a few of them scurrying away.

The big beautiful oak tree in front of the library. There’s usually a lot of people in the tiny park here but I think the threat of storms kept everyone at home.

Walking around by the yacht basin, I saw an eagle sitting on one of the poles. I was able to snap the above before he took off. I know they nest near Philippe Park north of here but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one in the fishing pier area.

Even though lights were showing the way to the boardwalk, it was starting to drizzle so I headed home.

Just being out at Sand Key Park

A nice warm windy day in late July. The beach wasn’t crowded early in the morning. Plus there was a storm heading our way so most people probably were staying home this morning. The wind was blasting but the sun was out early before the clouds moved in at lunchtime.

Looking across the channel at Clearwater Beach. Most of the tourist were over there.

I walked over to the fishing piers that sit near the bridge and found a few birds waiting for handouts from the people fishing.

A typical scene looking across at Clearwater beach. The pirate ship passed under the bridge but turned around just outside the channel and headed back into the intercoastal waterway. I’m assuming they stayed inside the intercoastal this morning since the water was choppy. There were a few people on it but I’m sure not nearly as crowded as past summers.

This looks like fun but you would need a lot of upper body strength on a windy day like this was. They stayed inside the channel as well.

SkyWatch Friday

A walk down Marsh Rabbit Run

Different herons down the trail, A great blue, tricolored, a night heron and then another tricolored almost swimming.

Turtle on the trail.

Why do always get the butt shot pose?  I almost never see these guys walking around and when I do they have their back to me. Usually I just see the below, snoozing and cruising.

All along the trail.

Trees and flowers along the trail.

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Parks close to home

A quick early walk at Chesnut Park in early May. The park started to get crowded pretty quickly so I left and headed out to another park close by.

Possum Branch Preserve was void of people but not many birds there either. At least it was a nice walk outside.

A few birds there included a juvenile night heron and a red bellied woodpecker.

I caught this common snapping turtle cruising down the back trail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a snapper out in the wild. This one was pretty small.

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Hanging out in the backyard.

Spending more time at home, I’ve been going out for a walk around the backyard after work. These were all taken in April.  Now that it’s late May, I would get eaten alive by mosquitoes if I’m not covered in bug spray.

A few critters on my plants (or weeds).

I noticed this juvenile night heron on my neighbor’s screened in porch. 

The sun going down on the ducks.

Sunset over my neighbor’s palm trees.

SkyWatch Friday

Flirting at the local watering hole

The snowy egrets were showing off and flirting.

The little blue herons were doing the same thing.

Some of the other birds were also showing off with their breeding faces.

The turtles were watching all of the action.

Even the cormorants were flirting and chasing each other high up in the trees.

Unlikely pair in the same tree, a wood stork and an osprey.

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Annual trip to the electric plant

After a really cold week, I headed over to the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant to see the manatees that hang out there in the winter. The warm water coming off the electric plant in the lagoon keeps the manatees warm during the coldest weeks. Years ago, the plant built a manatee viewing center with a big deck that wraps around part of the lagoon. All of those dots in the water are manatees. There were hundreds of them the morning I was there in late January.

The plant says that the smoke coming out of the stack is actually clean steam.  It doesn’t feel smoky when you are there and the sky was clear blue.

Part of the deck overlooking the lagoon. This was still early in the day before the big crowds get here. I got here well before they opened at 10am and waiting in line to park and was out before lunch. They can get crazy crowded and parking is a challenge when the manatees are here in large numbers. The news channels report on them when there’s been a prolonged cold spell so everyone heads over including me.

Some of the birds around the plant.  White pelicans were flying high, a young night heron flew by the deck and a vulture was sitting on a platform built for an osprey nest.

Down at the very end of the lagoon, it’s roped off so boaters or kayakers cannot follow the manatees into the area. There is no swimming with the manatees here.

There’s usually some stingrays splashing around.

I took a ton of manatee pictures so more to come on those.

SkyWatch Friday

 

Crescent Lake Park

Some of the ducks at Crescent Lake Park near downtown St. Pete.  That grebe was here in June. He should have been up north for the summer. Maybe some of the grebes stay all year round. Normally they are only here in the winter.

The wild parakeets nest in the water tower near the park. I was able to catch them right along the lake in the trees and feeding right on the ground.

Other usually birds at the park.

Checking me out. No snacks for him.

A beautiful tree across the street.

Views from the park. I always love this view. Seeing the fish water tower in front of the few tall buildings in downtown St. Pete. As I’m coming around the corner at the far end of the park I always remember to turn around.

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