New birds in the muck

Roosevelt Wetlands is a small reserve right next to the waste plant. It has a great trail that runs across the lake and is usually quiet. Just don’t go when the wind is blowing towards the reserve. I got there pretty early and first saw 2 skimmers skimming along the lake.

It looks like this moorhen bit off part of a lily pad.

A kildeer flew close by.

Some wintering birds were still there in early May. A sora rail and a spotted sandpiper.

Cute duck family.

A lesser yellowlegs was creeping around in the muck.

Two new birds in one shot. A white rumped sandpiper on the left and a semipalmated sandpiper on the right. These aren’t super rare birds for this area but for some reason I kept missing them. They were also creeping around in the muck.

A least sandpiper was also with the new birds. I had not seen one of these since 2012.

Another shot of the white rumped sandpiper.

A little sandpiper party.

Another shot of the semipalmated sandpiper.

I finally saw the gull billed tern. He flew by really fast and this was the only shot I could get of him. He circled around the pond and then left. He isn’t an exciting bird but a new one for me.

The only new bird I didn’t see that was sighted there before was a stilt sandpiper. Maybe next time.

Possum Branch Preserve

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.

Winter visitors at Possum Branch Preserve

A few of the wintering ducks at Possum Branch Preserve, a lesser scaup and a horned grebe. They were both far out in the channel that runs along the preserve.

A moorhen posing on a tree branch in the pond. Seems a little dangerous standing up there with all of the hawks and eagles that could come by.

The robins were still hanging around in early February. They were picking off the few remaining mulberries left on the tree.

At least two sora rails were spending the winter in the pond.

This is the 2nd winter I’ve seen a Virginia rail here. He’s pretty skittish and rarely comes out from the reeds. After standing there for a while, he finally came out for a few minutes before running back into hiding. He’s much prettier than the sora rail.

Two parks in early April

Heading out to Chesnut Park in early April. There was hardly anyone there but someone had come before me laying bird seed along the boardwalk.

I didn’t see where this crow got this egg. He stopped in the tree right in front of me. It could be a turtle egg.

I saw this little sparrow deep in the bushes along the boardwalk. I was hoping it was something rare but realized it was just a chipping sparrow. Not rare but not extremely common here.

Dragonflies are everywhere now.

I was watching this guy skiing back and forth across the lake. Looks like a fun way to do social distancing.

Enjoying the quiet morning but since this park was open it started to get crowded pretty quickly. I left by 9:30 and headed to Possum Branch Preserve.

Almost no one here at the reserve. Not many birds either.

The sora rail was still here a few weeks after I first saw him.

A beautiful morning for a walk.

SkyWatch Friday

Riding the “rails”.

The Sora rail was the talk of the reserve back in early April. I’ve only seen a few rails and they were all at Circle B Bar Reserve. This was a rare sighting for this area so a handful of people were coming to the park to find him. There were actually 3 there and they stayed for a few weeks. They stayed close to the reeds and were digging around in mud looking for food. Since then we’ve had some rain so the ponds are filled back up. Maybe that’s why they eventually left.

The Virginia rail on the left was a nice surprise. I had heard one was there but didn’t see it.  I saw the sora on the right far out in the marsh heading towards the reeds and snapped a shot of him and when I cropped this up I realized the Virginia rail was behind him.

Lately there’s been a glossy ibis hanging around the pond. This is another bird that I usually only see in central Florida so it was weird to see him here.

You can always see gators and bunnies here.

It was nice just being outside.

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Old ducks and a new one.


My first gadwall. I haven’t even heard of them being in the Tampa bay area before. I didn’t know they were at Circle B Bar Reserve until I was standing on the trail thinking that these ducks didn’t quite look like mallards. I asked another birder standing by that I knew was an expert birder and he told me what they were. It was a cloudy morning and if the sun had been out I would have only gotten a blob taking this right into the sun. The male is in front, female in back.


A male ring neck duck was swimming in between the gadwall couple.


There was a little confrontation over space between the two males.


Two males and a female swimming together.


They are pretty with all of the different beige color patterns.


Ring neck ducks trying to rule the pond.


The usual black bellied whistlers.


Whistler duck butts. Even their bottoms are cute.


Busy preening before a nap.


Standing at attention.


The marshes were full of them.


A sora rail sighting. They aren’t very common at the park. This one was pretty far out in the marsh so this is heavily cropped.

These were taken right after Christmas. After a week of sun and warm weather, I finally had a chance to head out to Circle B Bar Reserve and a dark blanket of clouds stayed over the park the entire 4 hours I was there. At least it was not hot out and I was excited to add a new duck to my list. I keep hearing there are bufflehead duck sightings but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. I’ll keep looking.

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My first sora rail


As I walked around the small lake, I saw nothing unusual. A cormorant swimming by.


A female anhinga posed for me with her funny face. Anhingas are common at this lake. They sit on the boardwalk rail and don’t even move when someone jogs by.


The grackle was picking the fuzz off of the cattails.


It was getting late, I had about half an hour before I lost the light. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see the Sora rail that had been spotted here a week earlier. I was on the last section of the lake when I saw something moving in the reeds along the edge.


I found him! My first sora rail. Soras aren’t that rare here but I keep missing them at the parks in the area. I finally found one and was able to get a shot. It was after 7pm at this point so I snapped a couple of pictures and then headed back to my car.


He was busy feeding. There were two soras there but they stayed pretty far apart. They camouflage into the reeds pretty well so I was excited that I found him. This park is only 5 minutes from my office. There usually isn’t too much to see because there are so many joggers and dog walkers after work but it’s a nice way to spend an hour and wait for traffic to ease up.


Of course, I had to take a picture of the local pond gator. He was a tiny one.


Last shot before getting in my car and heading home.