I was standing on the trail at Possum Branch Preserve in April and I saw the above. I wasn’t surprised to see hundreds of cedar waxwings flying across the pond there. They’ve come for a visit at this preserve for several spring seasons. They usually stay for several weeks. The trick to see them up close is to catch them feeding at the big mulberry tree on the trail.
I brought a chair and waited for them to land on the tree. They are very skittish and sometimes only land for a few minutes before taking off across the preserve again. There were several of us sitting quietly on the other side of the trail as they landed in a tree near the mulberry tree.
After a few minutes they all headed over to the mulberry tree and started feasting on the berries. Most of the time they land on the back of the tree that backs up to the pond but sometimes a few might land on the front of the tree. Since this is a short walk from the parking area I spent some time this spring sitting in my chair near the tree.
I headed over to the Dunedin causeway to look for the elusive black scoter. I had recently driven down to south St. Pete to look for him without any luck. Then a few days later I hear there is one right at the causeway nearby. The first thing I saw was this turkey vulture eating a fish that must have washed up on shore.
The dark clouds had started to move in so it was hard to tell what was floating around out there. The two above were a pair of cormorants.
Was this it? No, I realized as I cropped it up on my camera. Just a common loon but still a cool find.
There she was. The black scoter that I could finally add to my list. She was pretty far out and these are extremely cropped up but she counts! Not a pretty duck by any means. I would have probably thought it was a female lesser scaup if I wasn’t paying attention. She’s a fairly rare duck but there were two sightings in two weeks. Unless, she’s the same one that was down south that ended up here.
The rocky beach on the north side of the causeway was littered with these fish. This was at the end of December when red tide was creeping north up the beaches. Luckily it didn’t hang around too long and is gone.
I stopped at nearby Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk since I hadn’t been since May. It’s too hot and void of birds in the summer and I missed fall migration due to my shoulder surgery. I was meeting Brett for lunch so I didn’t stay long but it was good to get out there and walk the trails.
I was at Possum Branch Preserve in late April and caught the cedar waxwings filling up on mullberries. This was the last time I saw them so I’m assuming they were fueling up for their trip north for the summer. They are beautiful even covered in berry juice.
I saw this pair of swallow tail kites soaring high over the preserve. I think it may be the first time I’ve seen two flying together.
I stopped at nearby Folly Farms next to quickly walk through the butterfly garden.
I stopped at nearby Folly Farms to see if I could find some hummingbirds in the butterfly garden. I only found butterflies but there were lots of yellow ones which I don’t see often.
I caught this downy woodpecker with something in his beak. It looks like a cocoon. He pulled it out of a hole in the fence.
I stopped at Possum Branch Preserve on the way home. As I headed out on the trail I caught a limpkin flying by and an osprey overhead looking for fish.
The bunnies were still around long after Easter. This one was snacking in the mimosa groundcover which blankets the preserve in the spring.
This goes under “the one that got away”. This was the only shot I got of the boblonk. It was a female. I saw the pair several times from far away as they were flying off. I had seen them here several years ago but was bummed I couldn’t get a decent shot. Hopefully they will stop by next year.
The cedar waxwings were still there, hanging out on the far end of the preserve.
It was a gorgeous morning to be out on the beach in early April.
Far out in the water I could see a willet with a snack.
Terns were cruising by.
Laughing gulls were pairing up.
The rare kittiwake was still on the pier, a week later than when we first found him.
I still kept seeing the same warblers on the trails, a hooded and a black and white. I kept telling myself it was still early for migration here.
After a quiet morning at Fort Desoto Park I headed home but not before stopping by Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk. Two red shoulder hawks were sitting on the big dead snag outside of the preserve. I guess the hawks are pairing up as well.
A green heron trying to hide in the marsh.
It was pretty quiet at this park as well. I started taking pictures of butterflies since they are starting to be more plentiful. At least I got a good walk in before heading home for lunch.
I always love seeing cedar waxwings. They looks so magestic,. This is the 2nd spring I’ve seen them at Possum Branch Preserve. They are usually hidden deep in the trees but if you are really quiet you can hear them wheezing up there.
A few minutes later they all took off and moved over to tree on the other side of the pond. I noticed the yellow tips on the bottom of his feathers in this shot.
There’s always a lot of alligators and bunnies here.
One of the ponds here is fenced in. It’s used as a watershed but I’m not sure why this one is fenced and the others are not. I found a family of limpkins moving along the fence in early April. The parents had 4 babies. They stayed hidden in the brush along the fence but I could see them looking for a way into the fenced pond. One of the parents flew in and two of the babies were able to get through the fence holes. The other parent stayed on the outside with the other 2 but eventually they also made it through the fence. If they stay in the fenced area another day or two those babies won’t make it back through until they can fly out.
It was a warm sunny morning and this great blue heron was panting.
Since Possum Branch Preserve is close to my house now I’ve been stopping by there for a quick walk pretty regularly before it gets to hot. Most of the time I only see the usual birds and the red winged blackbirds are the most common. Above is a female.
There was an American bittern that spent the winter here. Most of the time he was hidden in the reeds but I managed to catch him coming out to feed one morning.
There was a blue winged teal here for a short time.
Little blue herons are everywhere but I thought he looked pretty against the green.
A sora rail also spent the winter here but I only caught hime once. He also hides in the reeds most of the time and blends in well.
I saw this big guy napping from across the pond.
By the time I got around to the other side he had turned around. These are super cropped up.
This one is also cropped up. This guy was a little smaller.
The usual things to see at Possum Branch Preserve.
Alligators are also usual things there. That alligator in the first one thinks that grass is hiding him. That alligator coming up behind him knew he was there.
There were no spring migrating birds feeding in the mulberry tree but the woodpecker was getting his fill.
This female red winged blackbird had 2 snacks, a caterpillar and a dragonfly.
Another usual suspect here is a brown thrasher.
Not a usual suspect in the mulberry trees right before I left. A small flock of cedar waxwings landed on the back side of the tree. I’ve seen them here once before several years ago. It was hard to get shots of them on the back side of the tree that backs up to the pond full of gators. Standing under the tree I could see several at the top with their faces covered in berry juice. They are such an elegant bird, always so clean. I felt like I should have offered them a napkin but I left them to their mulberry buffet.
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.