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.

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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.

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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.

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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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All of the usual things

Right when I got to Largo Nature Preserve and was getting out of the car this swallow tail kite flew so close to me that I cut him off. He flew over some trees and I couldn’t find him again.

The usual birds were there. A cattle egret, limpkin and a night heron.

The usual Florida critters were also there.

I did a quick lap around the paved trail and saw this almost grown baby screech owl peaking out of the hole in the tree. I looked for a while for the parent in the area but couldn’t find one. Those tiny owls are good at hiding. I did not stick around to find out if the parent came in to feed the baby but I’m sure it did at some point.

A red bellied woodpecker was popping in and out of this hole but we were all interested in the flickers nesting in the tree next door. More on that to come.

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Yard birds in May

Doves sleeping on our fence. Taken through the kitchen window.

This night heron was hanging out on our dock, staying busy preening.

An ibis flew in and landed on the same dock.

The night heron was not happy with the ibis near his spot and chased him off. I just happened to be walking out of the side of the house to sneak around to the back to take pictures of the heron when I caught the ibis landing.

A few minutes later the night heron flew down to the water. It was an extreme low tide and you could see some of the rocks exposed. He was looking for tiny crabs on the rocks.

A mockingbird was eating something off my neighbor’s bottle brush tree.

A red bellied woodpecker in the tree.

Not an exciting bird but the house sparrows nest nearby and I always get a lot of them at my feeder so I consider them “my” birds. They are not skittish at all.

I was hosing down the front porch early one Sunday morning when I looked down the driveway and saw a duck couple drinking the runoff water. I know they want a handout but we don’t feed the ducks here. On one side it would be fun if they nested in our bushes but on the other side, our driveway would be covered in piles of duck poop.

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The bird rookery

Catching a little blue heron lift off.

Snowy egrets were showing off.

Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.

The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.

The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.

There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.

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?).

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