Only in the winter

White pelicans are true “snow birds”. You only see them in Florida in the winter and even then it’s rare to see them. For the last several years there have been a few hanging around Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland (also know for their resident swans that live on the lake). I had seen a few earlier in the winter but when I stopped by to see if any of the swans had babies yet in mid-March, the lake was full of white pelicans. They were busy fishing and didn’t notice me at all standing on the side of the lake.

They seemed to be herding the fish into the vegetation and then scooping up the fish. You would think that after doing this all day they would eat all of the fish in this little lake. I went back several weeks later and all of the white pelicans were gone. I”m assuming they moved on to another pond or left to head up north. I realized when I cropped that last shot that there was a northern shoveler swimming in front of them.

Many of the pelicans were busy preening or flying around.

Showing off on Lake Morton

Lots of pretty swans on Lake Morton.

The cormorants were getting all their “ducks” all lined up.

In a flash, I saw the male northern shoveler flying away. He was very skittish.  Then a ring necked duck came in for a landing.

A lady was feeding the ducks some cracked corn (which is what they should be eating instead of bread).

Drying off on the lake.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Bad pictures of a new duck.

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I found the American wigeon that had been spotted at Largo Nature Preserve. A first for me on this fairly common duck. All in front of the picture, they were hanging out with some coots and moorhens. Of course, they were on the river where I had to take the picture right into the sun. I couldn’t go around since there are houses along the other side of the river.

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Northern shoveler with an itch.

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Northern shoveler with a mallard in front. They look alike except when you see them together. That big old beak gives the shoveler away.

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They were all busy feeding.

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A great blue heron panting on the boardwalk.  It was warm on the first weekend in January. No jacket needed.

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He kept flying back and forth as people were walking along the boardwalk.

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“Baby blue” A young little blue heron all alone. He started looking up and freaking out. I realized it was because the below had just flown by.

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As I was taking a picture of the baby blue, I saw something fly overhead. When I looked up this eagle was already past me and off into the wild blue yonder.

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A very typical scene. A cormorant silhouette into the sun while drying off.

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This was taken with my 300mm lens. He was in his usual spot along the boardwalk.

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Same guy but taken with my iphone. Someone said he was 11 feet long. What do you think? I think he was exaggerating over the length.

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Green parrots kept flying back and forth across the park. I never could see them landing. I think they live and nest at the electric plant near the park.

A beautiful morning on the first weekend of 2015.

The usual winter ducks

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I made my annual duck sighting trip to the duck  ponds outside Fort De Soto in early December. As usual this time of year, the pond was full of redheads and ring necked ducks. They were all still sleeping when I got there.

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A few of them had their eye on me. We only get redheads in the winter.

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A juvenile white ibis tries to land in the middle. He did not stay.

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There were a few northern shovelers floating as well.

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A male shoveler came by pretty close.

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The female was trying to sleep in.

DSC_9988This one might still be a juvenile. The colors in his feathers were not quite bright yet. He seemed curious.

The pond will hopefully stay full throughout the winter. I’ll keep checking if they do in case something unusual shows up. I had heard there was an American wigeon there but I couldn’t find him. It will be a lifer if I can find him.

Camera Critters

Flappers not from the 1920’s

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Male redhead flapping.

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Northern Shoveler flapping.

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Another male redhead flapping.

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Female redhead watching me as she flapped.

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A male redhead really showing off.

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As I stood at the duck pond outside of Fort Desoto park, all I could hear was the constant sound of flapping. This was a good morning to practice the “getting the duck up on his back flapping” shot. With thousands of ducks there, there were always a few ducks up flapping. They were all busy preening or taking a morning nap. Usually when a duck takes a quick bath and starts preening himself, he usually stands up and flaps his wings for a few seconds to get the excess water off. To have so many of them doing it at the same time was pretty funny.

Camera Critters

Winter ducks at the duck pond

I arrive at the Tierre Verde duck pond (before you drive into Fort Desoto Park) to see this. The pond was half full of ducks staying pretty close together. Most of them looked like redhead ducks and lesser scaup with a few ring necked ducks mixed in.

They floated a little closer to the edge. A redhead always stands out in a crowd! I was so excited to see the one redhead months ago at Lake Morton and now I see hundreds of them. I had heard they have been at this pond for a good part of the winter but this is the first time I was able to make it down to Fort Desoto. Soon they’ll be heading north and the moorhens and mallards will have the pond all to themselves.

I see this small group of northern shovelers staying very close together and feeding on something.

One male shoveler swims off on his own. I guess he got tired of the crowd.

More things from Circle B Bar Reserve – Skywatch Friday

Tons of tree swallows flying around the bald cypress trees.

Sandhill crane couple walking down the trail. I wonder if this is the same couple who had the baby here last year.

Blue winged teal flapping.

Male blue winged teal. Look at those pretty colors. He also has some green on them.

Ring necked duck flapping after a bath.

Female northern shoveler. Look at that big beak!

Two female northern shovelers hanging with what I think is a female lesser scaup.

I found lots of winter ducks at Circle B Bar Reserve on a recent trip. Ducks that are only visiting for a short time such as northern shovelers, lesser scaups, ring neck ducks  and blue winged teals. I heard there was a gadwall there but I couldn’t find it. I also couldn’t find any male northern shovelers. Only a few females hanging out together. The ponds were still full of coots. Hundreds of them. The most annoying thing of the day was the hundreds of tree swallows whizzing by non-stop. It was impossible to get a picture of one in flight and they don’t land, ever. They kept whizzing by me and would circle around and I was getting dizzy trying to keep up with them. And I still haven’t seen that darn bobcat that everyone else keeps seeing.  But I’m going to keep looking.
For more sky pictures check out Skywatch Friday