Things in the backyard

I was out in the backyard in early September and noticed this mallard trying to eat something that was bobbing in the water. I ran and got my camera and headed down to the dock and realized it was a mango. He was chowing down on it.

After 17 years in our house, we finally had a dragonfly come in. He was flying around for a while. We opened the doors and was waving around a broom and mop and was finally able to shoo him out into the screened in porch. I then opened the porch door and eventually he flew out but not before I was able to get this close up of him. He had a beautiful green color on his head.

Later in the week it was raining. We had a wet green heron hanging out on our dock in the rain and the mallards have been visiting for a while.

Squirrels like to hang out on the top of our down spout when it’s raining to stay dry. I took this through the sliding door and the screen.

We’ve been getting regular visits from 2 female mallards lately. They scrounge around under the bird feeder for fallen seed. One morning I looked out the window and realized they had brought friends. We also get ibis on a regular basis.

Looking out the side window from my desk, I see a dove sitting on the fence. Later a little blue heron was on our neighbor’s shed.

Taken through the window, this lizard had the cutest toes.

Sunset from the backyard.

My Corner of the World 

Across the bay

The view of downtown Tampa from Ballast Point Park. It wasn’t that early in the morning in the beginning of August when I stopped by. I had been out running errands and had my camera in the car so I stopped for a quick walk on the fishing pier. The park sits down in south Tampa and from the pier you can see across to downtown.

There wasn’t many birds around the pier but I caught this scruffy young grackle with a snack left over from some bait fish.

I caught this “fever’ of stingrays cruising by the pier.

The views from across the bay include the Tampa port, the electric plant over in Apollo Beach, the downtown skyline and some buildings going up on Bayshore Boulevard.

I caught this squirrel with a snack in the parking lot next to my car.

One last snap of Tampa through the trees (this was taken with my phone so you can see how far away I was).

SkyWatch Friday

Butterflies and turtles.

You can usually find butterflies here in central Florida all year but in early March the gardens were full of them at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Lots of colors fluttering by.

It was a quiet birding morning. The highlights were a pileated woodpecker across the pond and a cute grebe not acting skittish.

This guy ignored me while he ate his breakfast.

After a walk around the gardens I stopped at the nearby McGough Park to visit the turtles. I thought the ones above were kissing but I think it’s just the angle.

Turtles were everywhere. On the grass and climbing on the rocks.

A shot of the turtle pond with my phone.

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Great old trees

I had a quick walk at my local pond in early February. It was a quiet morning. Just me and the anhinga watching me take a picture of her.

The glossy ibis was still there.  Maybe they’ll stay permanently.

A teeny critter flying around the clovers.

I stopped by another park close by to check on the owls. Mom was half asleep and there was no sign of babies. I had heard there were two but both were sleeping far down in the nest all morning (later there 3 babies so stay tuned for baby owl shots).

This squirrel had a mouthful as he was running across the parking lot.

The big oak tree where the owls nest. We had heard from a ranger that they were taking this tree down later this year. They say it’s getting rotten inside and could fall on a car or worse a person. Several trees nearby have come down in bad storms. It still looked solid to us. Everyone was freaking out and talking about signing a petition to keep the tree up but if it’s dangerous, it’s coming down. The ranger said the owls will find another tree.

The view near the parking area.  There are a lot of great trees in this park.

One of my favorite trees in the park. It’s cool to see the limbs growing along the ground. The first shot is a pano taken with my phone.

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Nature at the house

A few of the birds that visited our backyard in the recent months. A little blue heron on our dock, a great blue heron on our neighbor’s completed demolished dock (after Hurricane ETA), and the phoebe on our fence. I see the little phoebe almost every day. Maybe because I don’t have dogs he looks for his meals here. He eats flying insects instead of seed so he doesn’t visit my feeder.

The starlings have a nest on my neighbor’s boat lift.

An osprey sitting our a  neighbor’s sailboat mast.

We usually get spotted sandpipers in the winter. They hang out in the muck at low tide.

A few creepy visitors include a mangrove crab and a spiny orb.

Squirrels constantly run across our screened porch which is cute but long term they pull out the screen and tear it up so sometimes we yell at them to get off.

A rainbow in the front yard.

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The usual stuff

When you are driving down the road and see an eagle sitting on a pole (and your camera is in the car) you turn around and go back and get a shot. Especially since it was such a beautiful sky. This one was sitting in a short tower behind a gas station on my way to Chesnut Park one morning.

Do we wish we could hang upside down so easily?

A yellow rumped warbler hiding in the bushes.

I’ve been seeing a purple gallinule hanging around the dock lately. This one has a snack in his beak.

This little gnatcatcher was being too cute not to take some shots.

I think this may be a juvenile northern parula. He’s got just a hint of gray on his back.

I don’t see swamp sparrows often.

This gnatcatcher was trying hard to get that bug.

This should not really be happening at the park but this young girl was beside herself when the titmouse flew onto her hand. People come early in the morning and leave seed along the boardwalk rail. It’s usually titmouse, cardinals and squirrels that are eating the seeds.

Still hot in October.

Busy little birds at Bok Tower Gardens. A black and white warbler, a titmouse (with a nut), a red eyed vireo and a female redstart were the only migrating birds I could find in mid-October. I realized as I was running around in the woods at Bok Tower why fall migration is much harder than spring migration. The birds are more scarce in the fall and it’s just too hot to be running around looking for tiny birds high up in the trees. Here in central Florida in the spring, if you are lucky to be out on a day when there are a lot of birds around, at least the weather is usually cooler. On this morning in October it was 85 degrees by 9:30 and the humidity was brutal. It takes a lot of patience to wait for these little birds to come down from the tops of the trees and it’s hard to be dripping in sweat. With that said, it was still a fun morning out even if I only saw a few birds.

Beauty in the pond.

A grasshopper high up in the tree. He caught my eye while I was watching a hummingbird on the other side of the tree.

I was taking a break on a bench when this little squirrel came up to me. He looks like he had a bot fly problem this summer. He should be okay though.

Reflections on the pond.

Looking down on the pond, the fish were waiting for a handout.

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Parks close to home

A quick early walk at Chesnut Park in early May. The park started to get crowded pretty quickly so I left and headed out to another park close by.

Possum Branch Preserve was void of people but not many birds there either. At least it was a nice walk outside.

A few birds there included a juvenile night heron and a red bellied woodpecker.

I caught this common snapping turtle cruising down the back trail. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a snapper out in the wild. This one was pretty small.

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No one around at Sawgrass Lake Park.

Green herons are everywhere.

This guy was too cute not to stop and snap a picture.

Wondering what this white fuzz is growing on the tree? Some kind of fungus?

I found some bushes that were covered in grasshoppers. The invasion has begun.

There are several endangered gopher tortoises living in the park.

More “just being outside” shots from a quiet corner of Sawgrass Lake Park in late April.

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Critters in the backyard in early April.

Taken through the bedroom window, the doves were eating seed on the ground and taking baths.

The house sparrows are back in the yard, eating from the feeder.

That squirrel thinks I can’t see him through the window.

I grabbed my camera and ran outside for the above green heron that was on our dock.

A rare spotted oleander moth was on our side fence and then flew to the plant. In 16 years of living in our house this is only the 2nd one I’ve seen.

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