Out and about

“Why did the butterfly cross the road???”

The glossy ibis has been hanging around Possum Branch Preserve for a while now.

The green heron was creeping around under the bushes.

I found the bluebird family again. One of the young ones was popping his head out of the nest. He’s flying around now so I’m not sure if the parents are still feeding him.

Oh the faces we see in a Florida pond!

I stopped by the old Kapok Tree in mid-March. It still had a lot of blooms on the tree but most of them were on the ground. I keep forgetting to go by here and catch it in full bloom. Back when I was a toddler there was a famous restaurant here called the Kapok Tree Inn. It was an old ornate building with lots of different rooms. We would come here to eat when we came to Clearwater to visit my parents. It closed in 1991 but the building is still here and is a music store. It still looks the same inside.

My Corner of the World

Winter visitors at Possum Branch Preserve

A few of the wintering ducks at Possum Branch Preserve, a lesser scaup and a horned grebe. They were both far out in the channel that runs along the preserve.

A moorhen posing on a tree branch in the pond. Seems a little dangerous standing up there with all of the hawks and eagles that could come by.

The robins were still hanging around in early February. They were picking off the few remaining mulberries left on the tree.

At least two sora rails were spending the winter in the pond.

This is the 2nd winter I’ve seen a Virginia rail here. He’s pretty skittish and rarely comes out from the reeds. After standing there for a while, he finally came out for a few minutes before running back into hiding. He’s much prettier than the sora rail.

Great old trees

I had a quick walk at my local pond in early February. It was a quiet morning. Just me and the anhinga watching me take a picture of her.

The glossy ibis was still there.  Maybe they’ll stay permanently.

A teeny critter flying around the clovers.

I stopped by another park close by to check on the owls. Mom was half asleep and there was no sign of babies. I had heard there were two but both were sleeping far down in the nest all morning (later there 3 babies so stay tuned for baby owl shots).

This squirrel had a mouthful as he was running across the parking lot.

The big oak tree where the owls nest. We had heard from a ranger that they were taking this tree down later this year. They say it’s getting rotten inside and could fall on a car or worse a person. Several trees nearby have come down in bad storms. It still looked solid to us. Everyone was freaking out and talking about signing a petition to keep the tree up but if it’s dangerous, it’s coming down. The ranger said the owls will find another tree.

The view near the parking area.  There are a lot of great trees in this park.

One of my favorite trees in the park. It’s cool to see the limbs growing along the ground. The first shot is a pano taken with my phone.

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Are there babies yet?

The trees were still bright red in early February, showing a pop of color across the pond.

The usual birds were still at Possum Branch Preserve. A grebe and a tricolored heron were easy to photograph.

We had a new visitor to the pond. A few glossy ibis showed up. It’s the first time I’ve seen a glossy ibis in this part of Pinellas county and the first I’ve heard of one being at this pond. They were pretty skittish but one let me get some good shots when I hid behind the tree. He was busy eating the pond bugs.

I stopped by a nearby park to see if the great horned owls were still nesting. It was quiet this morning and the other photographers there thought there were babies but no one has seen them yet. I was thinking it was a little early anyway. When I got home and cropped up the shot of the mom sleeping in the nest, I could just make out some white fuzz under her chin so there was at least one baby in the nest. It was going to be a while before we really got to see anything.

Dad was on a branch farther up the tree.

Some cute little squirrels were hiding in a tree nearby.

More shots to come of the baby owls and those cute little squirrels from a later trip.

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Saturday morning walk

Was he chewing on a four leaf clover?

A pop of yellow from a yellow rumped warbler. After a quick walk around Possum Branch on Saturday morning in mid-January, I headed home but stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier for a quick walk on the pier.

It was a quiet morning at the fishing pier.

The bright red beaks on the ibis stuck out on this drab morning.

The grackles were picking snacks off the oyster bed.

 

Pigeons are like snowflakes. No two are alike. There’s always a large flock of them at the Safety Harbor fishing pier. It was interesting to see how many different color patterns they had.

Two parks in one morning.

A northern parula going for a mulberry at Possum Brand Preserve. This is one of two trees there but only one blooms in the fall.

I’m not sure what the second picture is. I thought it was a red eyed vireo like the 3rd one but the yellow around the eyes is throwing me off.

Yellow-rumped warblers are pretty easy to spot. Mostly drab colors but that pop of yellow on his backside gives him away.

A house wren with a teeny snack in his beak. These guys are usually pretty shy and stay deep in the bushes but this one popped out for a minute.

The grebes are always looking up. Ready to take a dive if a hawk flies by.

The anhinga was across the pond but I managed to catch him with his catch.

After leaving Possum Branch I headed for a quick walk at Chesnut Park. I found a purple gallinule at the end of the dock there. Last year a pair had babies there in the spring so hoping for another crop this year.

I spotted this great blue heron with breakfast.

At the beginning of January, if finally looked like winter at the pond at Chesnut Park. The bald cypress leaves had fallen and blanketed the pond with brown and orange.

At Possum Brand Preserve, some of the cypress trees still had their leaves but they were already brown.

SkyWatch Friday

A quiet cold walk in January

The cattails and the spider webs were showing up in the early morning sun at Possum Branch Preserve.

Bright pops of red in early January. It was finally starting to look like fall (only in central Florida does it look like fall right before spring).

Birds were scarce this Saturday morning. Other than the usual birds, I only saw a house wren and a thrasher.

Pelican fly by along the canal.

Two coots have taken up residents for the winter in the main pond.

This guy didn’t look that big (taken with my zoom lens).

When I got around the other side of the pond and saw him spread out, he looked much bigger.

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Morning walk at Possum Branch Preserve.

The fields along the trail was starting to get over-grown in late May at Possum Branch Preserve. Once the grass gets knee high it’s a little creepy to veer off the trail and get close to the marsh.

Baby bluebirds hanging out in a dead tree. Looks like they were just learning to fly.

The usual.

This guy (male lesser scaup) should have already flown north by mid-May.  Not sure why he was still hanging around but he wasn’t there the last time I was at the preserve.

The view from  the edge of one of the ponds.

I stopped by the local eagles nest on the way home that’s in a utility tower. I was checking to see if I could see any juvenile eagles hanging around but only the adult was sitting on the tower. Any babies could have been gone by then.

 

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Dinner time at Possum Branch Preserve

Across the pond I could see this osprey hovering, looking for fish.

Eventually he splashed down and got a fish but took off in the other direction.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, an anhinga was having trouble getting his big catch down. He eventually swallowed it in one big gulp.

Another anhinga scored across the pond. It was a busy fishing night right before dark.

This guy was just cruising around.

A few of the other critters on my walk after work.

A very cool tree in the woods.

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