I was out running errands one morning this summer and I had my camera in the car so I took a long slow back road to get home. There wasn’t much traffic on this road so I pulled over to get some shots of the yellow tickseed blooming and the clouds moving in.
I found a cow pasture with a sandhill crane family feeding on the bugs in the cow patties. The couple had a juvenile with them.
A cow was poking her head through the fence to get to the good grass.
A swallow tail kite flies overhead while I was pulled over taking pictures of the cow.
Meadowlarks were singing along the cow pasture.
Why did the vulture cross the road? I saw this vulture sitting on the road up ahead. Then I saw a few more along the ditch so I pulled over.
They were feasting on what looked like a cow leg. So many questions! Did the cow get loose? Did the leg fall off a truck? I didn’t see any cow pastures on this part of the road. Where did it come from? Or was it something else? A wild hog? That would be a pretty big one if so. Vultures are nature’s cleaning crew and they were doing their job.
I found a new sunflower farm closer to my home (still almost an hour away though). Up in Spring Hill, an hour north of Tampa, Jimmy MC’s farm has U-pick sunflowers during the spring. I headed up there on the final weekend of the season almost at the end of May. This is not a big farm with activities for little kids. This is just a farm that you can go and pick your own sunflowers. It’s free to get in and $5 for two handfuls of sunflowers. I parked near the barn and walked out to the sunflower field.
They do have a picturesque tub that you can climb in and take pictures.
It was the last weekend of their season but the field was still full of sunflowers. It was hard deciding which ones to pick. So many! I looked for new buds that weren’t drooping yet and covered in bees. I didn’t want to disturb the much needed honey bees.
I was inspecting each one that I was thinking of picking and found this green spider on the back of one. I didn’t want to take him home (last year I brought home a small creme colored spider and put him in the backyard).
They had a lot of cows next to the sunflower field and I was envious of the ones in the back going for a swim. It was a hot morning. Their pond had really shrunk from the drought. Once most of the good flowers were picked they let the cows in the field and eat the remaining sunflowers.
As I walked back to my car I saw this sandhill crane family in the grassy parking area. I had my camera in the car so I pulled it out and snapped a few shots of them feeding. Junior was almost fully grown but still getting food from his parents.
I loved seeing the windmill out in the cow pasture so I stopped and snapped the above with my phone.
It was too hot to be walking around and my foot was still bothering me so I was taking a lot of bike rides at a nearby trail this summer. I wasn’t expecting to find much but I immediately spotted 2 bunnies right off the trail. Both were cottontails but one had cute notches on his ears.
The sandhill crane family was out in the cow pasture. Mom was digging for bugs in the cow poop. I don’t think Junior cared because he ate whatever Mom dug up.
This doe looked really pregnant. There were several other deer nearby hiding in the woods.
A lone skimmer came cruising the pond along the trail. The light was not in my favor but I did manage a shot of it scooping up some fish.
I took a break and was watching the cows. An almost grown calf stopped eating and was staring at me. Probably wondering what I was doing out here.
The dark clouds were moving in so I headed back to my car.
AAnother bike ride in mid-April on my favorite trail that runs through the cow pastures. The sun had just come up when I got out there.
I stopped when I saw 2 sandhill cranes walking across the pasture. As I stood there they both went under the fence and onto the trail right in front of me. I had to quickly back up to fit the first one in the shot. I was trying to keep my distance but they kept walking closer. I hope people aren’t feeding them here.
Some of the usual birds along the trail. A great crested flycatcher and a meadowlark. Both with distinct calls so I heard them before I saw them.
When I first got to the eagle’s nest the almost grown babies were eating and a parent was sitting up there with them. Then the parent took off.
Cruising right past me.
As I was standing there watching the eagle flying around I saw the juvenile eagle fly down to the almost dry pond just under the nest. It seemed to be trying to catch something small but I don’t think he succeeded. It might have been a lizard.
The above is not a good shot and I almost didn’t take it thinking it was a red shoulder hawk but when I got home and cropped it up I realized it was a merlin. I have not seen one of those in a long time.
I think this calf now has his own personal cattle egret to follow him around and eat his bugs. They were staring at each other for a while.
This cow had his cattle egret close by but the colors on the cattle egret’s face looks like he was ready to start nesting.
Taken with my phone on the trail, the utility tower on the right is where the eagles have their nest.
Late one afternoon in mid-February I hopped on my bike and took a spin around the neighborhood. My first stop was the eagle’s nest to see if I could see the babies yet (No, not yet) and then was stopping at all of the ponds to see what else I could find. I came across a sandhill crane couple walking along the golf course near the road. I stopped for a few minutes and watched them as they headed for the back of the golf club.
Today was alligator day in the neighborhood. Four of the ponds I stopped at had alligators snoozing along the bank. Alligators are everywhere in central Florida, if there’s water there is an alligator in there, even if you can’t see him. They are pretty skittish and would jump in the water if I started heading down the grass (no, I would never do that though). If you live here you know to stay away from the edge and keep your pets away as well.
A black crowned night heron snoozing over one of the ponds.
It was a warm afternoon and this great blue heron was already panting from the heat.
I see this great blue heron almost everyday near the entrance to my subdivision. He’s got his pretty breeding colors on his face. I kept hoping to see a nest nearby and if there is one it’s hiding far down the creek.
Far across the utility field I could see some nanday parakeets.
I’ve been out on my bike quite a bit now that the weather is warmer. It’s an easy way to get around with my foot still hurting. There’s not a lot of places to ride with a lot of nature instead of traffic but there’s a bike trail just north of me that goes through cow pastures. As soon as I got on the trail I heard the sandhill cranes. Flying across the pasture. They were pretty far away and I had only brought my shorter lens but it was cool to see them flying by.
A kildeer was far out in the pasture.
And of course lots of cows. And lots of babies! There were a lot of cream colored babies out there and a lot of them were nursing. Next year I need to get out here much sooner when they are tiny.
I saw this sandhill crane by himself standing near the fence.
Another eagle nest up in a utility tower. One of the parents was feeding a little one.
The other parent took off across the trail.
This morning started out sunny but dark clouds started to move in as I got half way down the trail so I didn’t stay too long. Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions on my foot issues. I have seen a podiatrist and gotten a painful shot. Keeping off my feet a few more weeks and hoping for the best (along with the stretches, exercises, icing, etc).
The welcoming committee at Chinsegut Wildlife Area. This is the 3rd time I’ve seen these sandhill cranes hanging around the nature center. One is a juvenile and didn’t quite have the red on his face this past summer. It’s great to see the family is still together. I’m assuming they nest somewhere on the lake here.
Later when I was leaving they were hanging around the parking area and I snapped this with my phone.
I’m sure these are some type of weed but they were really pretty along the trail.
It was foggy when I first got there but wore off as the sun got higher.
I left the house in the dark in early October, heading north to Chinsegut Wildlife trail. It’s only an hour away but feels like a completely different place. I made some quick stops along the way, taking shots of the light coming up over the trees and through the fog.
Right before the trail I saw this old building. At first I thought it was a house but it might have been some type of small factory or type of barn. There were trees growing in the middle of the building. I had to stop and get a shot of it. As I was taking some pictures with my phone, some crows flew out of the building. I thought “Is it Halloween already?”
When I got to the conservation center to park the sun was just coming up. I hadn’t been out for a long walk in a while and it felt good to be out in the woods.
Due to a lot of recent rain, things were pretty swampy. I had on a lot of bug spray so I was able to linger a while and listen to the swamp sounds.
It looked a little like fall with a few red leaves but I would suspect that they are really from the trees being so flooded for a while.
I found a sandhill crane family near the parking area and junior was almost grown up. He didn’t quite have a full red head yet though. They walked around for a while, picking off some bird seed in the ground feeder and then eventually headed into the woods.
After leaving Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa, I stopped by the bird rookery before heading home for one last look before it got too hot. It was fun seeing all of the juvenile wood storks almost grown up. It’s amazing how fast baby birds grow up. A few months later and they are as big as Mom. The young ones still have that pretty pale pink beak and a little fuzz on their heads.
Many of this spring’s early babies were already flying over to the side of the pond across from the mangrove island.
There were 3 snowy egret babies right in the front of the island. They were screaming for Mom who was close by.
High up in the tree a young cormorant was waiting for Mom to cough up the regurgitated fish.
On the way out of the neighborhood I saw a pair of sandhill cranes and stopped for a few minutes to get the above shots.
I was taking the scenic route home from Bok Tower Gardens and circled partially around a small lake in Lake Wales instead of taking the short cut to the main road. You never know what you may find along a lake. I found two sandhill crane families, both with one baby. I parked at the playground and just walked a few steps and caught the above family as they were cruising along the marshy area of the lake. The baby was getting big and was walking around on his own while still staying close to the parents. After a handful (okay, maybe 100 snaps) I jumped back in the car and continued on my way.
I think these are weeds but I love seeing them out in the open field.
And this little guy was hiding in some of the “weeds” on the other side of the lake. At first I just saw the parents and got out of the car anyway to walk around at the main parking area and then saw the baby pop out of the weeds. He was still pretty tiny.
He sat patiently as one of the parents was looking around for bugs. I caught him getting a bug from the parent. When the baby sat down he was much shorter that those daisy weeds and could easily hide in them. These are all extremely cropped so I don’t even think they noticed me.