Two parks in one morning.

A starling peeking out of what was probably a former woodpecker nest.

Thanks to Ken at Rosyfinch Ramblings for the ID on the above Orange crowned warbler. A first for me.

Little birds at Hammock Park.

A small wood stork party at Possum Branch Preserve.

Typical great egret shot but I noticed after I cropped it up that he’s missing part of his upper beak.

I started out at Hammock Park, a small park in Dunedin that I had not been before. After walking around for an hour and seeing very little, I left there and stopped at Possum Branch Preserve for a walk before heading home.

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Way up high

Pelicans flying by.

Cormorant flying by.

I saw this red shoulder hawk sitting high up in a cypress tree. Took a couple of shots and then I kept going down the trail, thinking she was taking a break.

I got all the way across the pond and heard the hawk screaming. I looked over and saw the above. These are extremely cropped. Guess we’ll be having baby hawks soon. These were all taken at Possum Branch Preserve. It’s a small watershed area not too far from my house. It sits on a corner of one of the busiest intersections in the area. Except for the traffic noise, the trail is very quiet.

SkyWatch Friday

Hidden behind some trees

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Hiding behind trees at a very busy intersection in the Tampa Bay area is Possum Branch Preserve. There’s only a tiny sign on the fence and no real parking. You just pull onto the grass and park along the fence. There wasn’t a lot of birds the day I was there in early December but tons of plants along the ponds. If it wasn’t for all of the loud traffic close by I would have thought I was in the middle of nowhere.

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The usual stuff near my neighborhood

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Lots of ring neck ducks floating in the channel near my neighborhood. The all brown ones are the females and the ones with black heads and gray bodies are the males.

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Alligators are everywhere.

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I hadn’t seen a horned grebe in a long time. This one was all alone across the channel.

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Two more alligators in the grass.

Not a new duck but a rare one.

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I had only seen one Goldeneye from across a big lake and only had one blurry picture of it. I could barely tell what it looked like. When I heard that two of them were floating around in a channel right near my house I had dropped everything, grabbed my camera and headed out. I walked for a while looking through all of the ring neck, grebes, scaups and mallards until I saw them.  These guys are pretty rare around here. There was one last February in the area that was very skittish and stayed far away. These two were floating down the channel without really paying any attention to me.

Where did all of the “rare” sparrows go?

Red shoulder hawk overseeing one of the busiest intersections in Pinellas county.

I went there looking for sparrows. The weekend before I went there were seven different sparrow species sighted there. Of course, I go a few days later and see almost none. I see the above deep in the bushes and all I could get was this fuzzy shot. With that little bit of yellow on his head, I’m thinking this is a Savannah sparrow which would be a first for me. Can anyone confirm?

Above is another fuzzy shot. It could be the same but didn’t look like it has as much white in his back feathers. He was a little darker than the one above. I can’t even begin to guess what this is without seeing his head. These guys stayed deep in the bushes. 

Another palm warbler? These were all over the preserve.

Cormorant telling people to slow down in the channel.

Little grebe all wet.

There’s a small hidden preserve sitting right at the intersection of two busy roads in Pinellas county. There’s no real parking lot, you just pull in on the grass. There is a walking trail along the canal and a few small ponds. The morning I went in early November was a beautiful day but the reserve was pretty quiet except for the loud traffic noise. A few other birders were out looking for all of the different sparrows. One guy was determined to find a song sparrow to add to his list and was still looking when I left a few hours later. I have to laugh, I get home and my feeder is full of house sparrows. I tried to explain to hubby that I was looking for “other” sparrows but he just said “You’ve got a yard full of sparrows”.

Possum Branch Preserve

“Look at my big fish!”

Another view. I did not see him swallow this. He sat there for a few minutes and then flew off. I’m sure at some point he got it down.

The red winged blackbirds were being very noisy. I kept trying to tell them to be quiet so I could enjoy my morning. They would not listen.

Pied grebe floating close by. I have never noticed the black stripe on their beak before.

Sparrow – this is either a swamp, grasshopper or savannah. All of them were listed as being seen in this spot. The other birders there argued over which one it was. I’m thinking savannah since it looks like he has a little yellow around his head.

I turn around to start to leave and see a kildeer on the trail. I snapped the picture before he took off. When he took off, another one flew off with him.

Cute little Florida rat (alligator snack).

 

I thought I’d head back to Possum Branch to look for the green tailed towhee. I found him right after Christmas  but hadn’t been back to this little preserve since then. No sight of the towhee in the almost two hours I was there but I have read others have sighted him since then. That tiny little preserve on the corner of a very busy intersection is amazing. As soon as I walked in, I spot the great blue heron pulling something out of the water. I thought “This was totally worth stopping here even if I don’t see anything else.” There were sparrows flitting all around the bushes and lots of usual grackles and blackbirds. The canal that runs along the preserve had lesser scaup but they’ll be gone soon. I was surprised to see the kildeer there. I don’t see them often. I spotted 5 alligators in the two small ponds. Now I hear there’s a clapper rail there so another trip will be soon.

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