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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Two parks in early April

Heading out to Chesnut Park in early April. There was hardly anyone there but someone had come before me laying bird seed along the boardwalk.

I didn’t see where this crow got this egg. He stopped in the tree right in front of me. It could be a turtle egg.

I saw this little sparrow deep in the bushes along the boardwalk. I was hoping it was something rare but realized it was just a chipping sparrow. Not rare but not extremely common here.

Dragonflies are everywhere now.

I was watching this guy skiing back and forth across the lake. Looks like a fun way to do social distancing.

Enjoying the quiet morning but since this park was open it started to get crowded pretty quickly. I left by 9:30 and headed to Possum Branch Preserve.

Almost no one here at the reserve. Not many birds either.

The sora rail was still here a few weeks after I first saw him.

A beautiful morning for a walk.

SkyWatch Friday

Blue and purple

I rarely see bluebirds in the parks near my house. I’m sure they are around but I never seem to see them. I didn’t expect to see one singing on a dead pine tree at Possum Branch Preserve. This was a treat watching him pouring his heart out across the marsh.

The lone glossy ibis was still there, showing off his colors in the sunlight.

I looked down in the marsh and saw this. What was this purple gallinule doing?

Then I realized another one was coming out of the reeds and they started playing “leap frog” in the marsh. Those big yellow feet were such a contrast on top of her back. They did it twice before taking off in different directions. By now somewhere in that marsh is a purple gallinule nest. Here’s to hoping to see babies soon.

There’s always a lot of white peacock butterflies and bunnies here.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters

 

Riding the “rails”.

The Sora rail was the talk of the reserve back in early April. I’ve only seen a few rails and they were all at Circle B Bar Reserve. This was a rare sighting for this area so a handful of people were coming to the park to find him. There were actually 3 there and they stayed for a few weeks. They stayed close to the reeds and were digging around in mud looking for food. Since then we’ve had some rain so the ponds are filled back up. Maybe that’s why they eventually left.

The Virginia rail on the left was a nice surprise. I had heard one was there but didn’t see it.  I saw the sora on the right far out in the marsh heading towards the reeds and snapped a shot of him and when I cropped this up I realized the Virginia rail was behind him.

Lately there’s been a glossy ibis hanging around the pond. This is another bird that I usually only see in central Florida so it was weird to see him here.

You can always see gators and bunnies here.

It was nice just being outside.

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Flowers and bugs near home

Flowers on the trail at Possum Branch Preserve.

The fields were covered with these pink puffy plants. And they were covered in bees.

It’s always a nice quiet walk at Possum Branch Preserve. It’s a hidden gem right off of a busy main road but most people don’t know it exists. It never closed down so I’ve been going there for a long walk a few times a week since it’s close to home.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters

A very quiet early September

Little titmouse looking for snacks. I get there at 8am and someone has already been there and left birdseed on the boardwalk. These guys are not shy.

I’ve never seen a prothonotary warbler at Chesnut park. Both were very skittish.

Other usual birds were parulas and cardinals. The cardinal was a juvenile that was just getting his red feathers. He looked rough.

It was very quiet at Chesnut Park so I left and stopped by Possum Branch Preserve before heading home. It was even more quiet at the preserve. I couldn’t even find a gator in all that muck.

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A 2nd bobolink sighting

Watching this osprey hover for a few minutes over the lake reminded me of angels. This one never did catch a fish. He kept hovering, then circling the pond, then hovering.

My 2nd sighting of a bobolink. The first was years ago at Fort Desoto. There were several here that stayed for a few days.

A rose breasted grosbeak hiding in the bushes.

An egret’s gotta eat but I feel sad for the little mouse.

Always an alligator floating in the pond but they are not too big here.

A nice walk after work in early May before it got too hot.

Possum Branch Preserve is a small watershed not to far from home. Most of the year it’s pretty quiet with only alligators and the usual big water birds but there are several mulberry trees that attract migrating birds in the spring and fall.

SkyWatch Friday

A few stops on the way home.

The trail around the ponds at Possom Branch Preserve were covered in these purple flowers. The bees seemed to love them.

Little critters.

I noticed a swallow tail kite cruising high over the busy road next to the preserve.

Lots of parulas and palm warblers but not many other birds. Spring migration was pretty much over by early May.

On the way home I stopped by a small park near Possum Branch Preserve to take a peek on the boardwalk. Nothing there but I saw the above yellow billed cuckoo in the parking lot. I saw it fly into a tree and at first glance I thought it was a dove. I’m glad I stopped and paid attention. These are fairly rare here.

I also stopped by the fishing pier in Safety Harbor to see if there were any manatees. No manatees this morning but a school of sting rays swam under the pier.

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Quiet walk in early August

Plants and critters at Chesnut Park and Possum Brand Preserve.

Not many birds around in early August. It was so hot I wasn’t getting out much for a few weeks. A 2 hour walk early on Saturday mornings was all I could handle in the heat and humidity before heading home for a nap.

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Rare birds and common ones

I hadn’t seen cedar waxwings in years. They are somewhat rare here and only a few come through during spring migration. I saw one hiding deep in the bushes and was a little bummed he was not visible. Later in my walk a flock of them quickly flew by and one stopped for a few second right in front of me. They are beautiful birds.

A rare western kingbird. I’ve only seen these once before in the area in the last 9 years. At first I thought it was a great crested flycatcher which are more common but realized later it was a kingbird.

All of the usual birds that are at Possum Branch Preserve.

Not sure what this little yellow bird it. I’m thinking it’s an immature palm warbler.

Other little critters along the lake (besides alligators).

These were all taken at Possum Branch Preserve, a small watershed, near my home in mid-April.

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