An early morning walk

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.

 

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Last visit to the bird rookery this year.

 

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.

Taking the long way home

 

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.

My Corner of the World

Color on the trail

Spoonbills were everywhere on my last trip to Circle B Bar Reserve but they were each alone. Dotting the way down the trail. There’s something magical about these pink fluff balls and even seeing one occasionally is always a treat.

One went flying by me in the rain. Yes I got caught on the trail in the rain but more on that later.

The usual clowns on the trail.

Before I headed down Marsh Rabbit Run, I stopped to take a few pictures of the above sandhill cranes. They were just standing in the middle of the trail intersection preening themselves. One was picking at the dirt on the ground and spreading the dirt on his feathers. Assuming to keep the bugs off? I had heard they do this but had not seen it before.

I got down to the end of Marsh Rabbit Run and it started to pour so I hung out in the rain shelter for almost an hour. When the rain stopped I headed back to my car and these guys were still standing at the same intersection. Now they were all wet and looked like they had enjoyed the rain.

Out in a cow pasture

On my way back from my road trip to central Florida to look for the whooping cranes, I stopped along a quiet rode when I saw the above sandhill crane family far out in a cow pasture. The two babies were already big and could keep up with the parents. These are all extremely cropped pictures.

The cow was looking at me like I was crazy.

Central Florida is full of cow pastures and citrus groves.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Also linking to Sharon’s Souvenirs.

Last visit to my favorite place for a while!

In early March I hurt my back and ended up with a compression fracture. I had to take it easy for a while and after two weeks without long walks in a park I decided to take a road trip across central Florida to look for the whooping cranes. I figured it was easy to sit in a car and I’ve been saying I was going to go over there but just never took the time. This was also right before the big lock down. On the way home I decided to stop at Circle B Bar Reserve for a quick walk even if it was just a few minute in the parking lot. I felt pretty good (was wearing a back brace around my waist) so I walked a little ways down the main trail. It felt good to be out. I’m glad I made the effort because they closed the reserve down the next week for a while. I found the whooping cranes, more on those later. Above are sandhill cranes that were right up on the trail.

Lots of the usual birds there including the great blue heron yelling at an intruder.

It must have been soft shell turtle day because I saw three different ones on my short walk. They were up on the trail. They are usually skittish but one stopped for a pose.

I’m going to miss the tree twins.

A small part of the marsh at Circle B Bar Reserve on a beautiful day.

My Corner of the World

Wearing your heart on your head.

Sandhill cranes celebrate Valentine’s Day everyday, since they have a heart built right in the top of their head.

I saw this couple out in the marsh at Circle B Bar Reserve in late November. The light wasn’t great since it was early in the morning and the sun was coming up behind the cranes. I normally wouldn’t have taken pictures of them with this light but they started dancing and flirting out in the marsh and I just started clicking away. Assuming this is a mating ritual, I’m hoping to see the couple out in the marsh on a nest soon.

Farther down the trail later that morning I saw these cranes fly by. Not sure if they are the same ones since there are several crane couples at the marsh.

They were gone from their corner when I passed by there on my way back to the car.

SkyWatch Friday

December at Bok Tower Gardens

Cool and pretty plants at Bok Tower Gardens in central Florida.

Little critters and flying critters. Hummingbirds were everywhere but I could not seem to catch them feeding. They would fly behind or into the bushes.

I love walking around Bok Tower Gardens. There’s always something different to see. I don’t get there often since it’s close to an hour and a half from my house (and that’s without traffic). I managed to get there a few weeks before Christmas but was wishing it was cooler than it was. Otherwise, it was a perfect morning.

On my way back to the main road, I passed a house that had 4 sandhill cranes in their front yard, along with a few ibis. I pulled over and quickly snapped the above from my car. It would be really cool to see these guys grazing in my front yard but it would be rare to get them that close to the bay.

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Squirrels do it, birds do it…..

I just happened to be walking down the trail when I saw 2 sandhill cranes walking around. I didn’t think anything of it until one of the cranes started spreading her wings. I thought “Oh well, they’re going to fly away.” but no, they had something else in mind. By now there are hopefully crane babies out there somewhere.

All the other birds were busy eating fish and bugs along the trails.

Great blue heron cruising by.

Busy morning for the birds in mid March at Circle B Bar Reserve.

SkyWatch Friday

Save Our Seabirds

When my sister was here visiting over Thanksgiving weekend we headed down to Sarasota for the day. After spending the morning at Selby Gardens and having lunch nearby we stopped in at Save Our Seabirds to walk around for a while before heading back to Tampa. SOS is a non-profit bird sanctuary and rehabilitation facility. They rescue, rehab and release injured birds. Many of the birds that can’t be released have found a permanent home here.

Many of the birds had missing wings, eyes or legs. It was late in the afternoon when we stopped in so it was quiet and most of the birds were napping.

They do a lot of work with injured sandhill cranes including ones that lose a leg after being hit by a car. They fit them with prosthetic legs so they are able to move around easily but are still not able to be released.

Linking to Wednesday Around the World