The water around the Safety Harbor fishing pier was really low the morning I was there in mid-March. There were a lot of shorebirds far out on a tiny spit. A few black bellied plovers, red knots and dowitchers were mixed in with tons of willets, gulls and terns.
Heading around the edge of some mangroves I could just make out 3 Canadian geese.
Several manatees were coming up for air.
A red-winged blackbird posing on the mangroves.
I stopped by Folly Farms on the way home. Lots of little critters there.
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.
No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one. I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it. All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.
The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.
A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.
Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.
A little blue heron found a worm in the water.
Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.
He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).
I headed down to Fort Desoto early one Saturday morning only to find it was closed for a marathon. So I decided to head to a park I had not been before. Maximo Park sits on the water right next to the interstate and was only minutes away from Fort Desoto. I had not been here before but had not heard much about it. It’s a small park near a marina and the people were lined up at the boat ramp to get their boats in for the day. Across the bay you can see the new bridge near Fort Desoto going up. You can buy bait fish right out of the water (for the lazy people who don’t want to pull their own bait fish up with a net).
It was a quiet day for birds but above are a few that I found including the vulture sunning himself.
Was it starting to look like fall? Looks like poison ivy with those red leaves of 3.
I stopped by Sawgrass Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk and saw this soft shell turtle crossing the parking lot. A man came over and picked him and moved him on his way. It’s rare to see these guys out of the water up close. They are usually pretty skittish.
It didn’t feel like fall or Halloween until I went to Bok Tower Gardens in central Florida. They had some fun decorations around the gardens. The scarecrows were made by local school kids.
The gold door to the the bell tower.
I was disappointed that the only bird at the feeder was a red-winged blackbird.
It was a beautiful morning. The moon was still out while I walked the trails.
I recently spent several hours walking around the gardens at Bok Tower. It’s about an hour and a half from where I live in Tampa but worth the drive. The gardens have a huge variety of things including flowers, trees, birds, butterflies and other tiny critters to practice photography while getting in a good walk.
Some of the summer birds at Chesnut Park in mid-June.
I don’t see Cooper’s hawks that often. This one was watching his nest, far into the woods. We couldn’t see the babies but we could hear them crying for food.
Not great shots but I couldn’t resist. The above two shots are of a blue-gray gnatcatcher nest high up in a tree. It looked like a golf ball from the naked eye. I think there were 3 babies on the nest. By the time you could see them, they were outgrowing the nest. These are extremely zoomed in and cropped. Thanks to Joe with his scope that knows every bird that is born at the park.
Even smaller critters have taken over. Grasshoppers and butterflies were everywhere.
This little beauty had deer flies on her face. They are worse than mosquitos.
Taken with my phone, a shot of the swamp from the boardwalk.