More from Myakka River State Park

While I was at Myakka River State Park in early May, I did see a little bit of wildlife. This young male deer was just off the road.

I lost count of the vultures and alligators I saw. I was there early in the morning before the majority of the alligators had started to lay out on the banks but I still saw a ton.

I saw this little bird walking around near the big alligator’s tail. Zooming in I saw that it was a spotted sandpiper. I hope he has good reflexes and can get away fast if that alligator whips around.

Far down the river I could see limplins looking for food. It looks like one of them has a snack.

I got out of the car and was walking across the parking lot to head to the boardwalk and this guy came out of the bushes and ran across the parking lot.

A swallow tail kite flies low overhead.

Just down the road from the park, this old barn must have some pretty good stories to tell. I couldn’t tell if it’s still being used but the ivy is started to take over the roof.

Beautiful flying things

I was at Possum Branch Preserve in late April and caught the cedar waxwings filling up on mullberries. This was the last time I saw them so I’m assuming they were fueling up for their trip north for the summer. They are beautiful even covered in berry juice.

I saw this pair of swallow tail kites soaring high over the preserve. I think it may be the first time I’ve seen two flying together.

I stopped at nearby Folly Farms next to quickly walk through the butterfly garden.

Late April in the backyard.

I looked outside the back window one morning in late April and saw these beauties walking around so I had to run out and get some shots. They were heading off the golf course and into the woods before the golfers come through.

Early one morning I saw this guy and went outside to take this. His face was all muddy. He was in the shade and didn’t stay still so it was hard to get a good shot of him.

I took these outside as well. He was napping on the hanging basket.

Squirrels being cute in the backyard. Taken through the window.

A wasp on  the bird bath when I was cleaning it out.

A swallow tail kite cruising along the golf course. I took this through the window as well. I knew he’d be gone by the time I got outside and on the course.

We always have white ibis feeding through.

Several brown thrashers were feeding on the ground for several days.  They must be nesting somewhere nearby.

These crows are very annoying. There are several that hang out in the backyard. They usually stay high up in the oak trees but recently they have been coming to the bird bath. They must have found some trash or someone was leaving food out because they were bringing food to the bird bath to soak before eating it. It looked like mostly bread but one day I ran out and chased one off the bath and he had an open pack of cheese crackers that he left as he flew off. I finally dumped the water out for a few days until they left.

We’ve been getting a lot of woodpeckers at the feeder lately. They grab a sunflower seed and take off. The other little birds usually leave when they are on it.

Inspire Me Monday

A hidden gem

I had heard about a small park not too far from my home that had a community vegetable garden and a butterfly garden so I thought I would stop by on the way home from Chesnut Park. As I got out of my car I saw two swallow tail kites cruising right over the park. I thought that was a good sign. One of the kites had what looked like a frog in his talons but he cruised over the trees before I could get a second look.

It was right before lunch and the sun was straight up and hot so there weren’t many butterflies around although the small garden was very pretty.

I saw a juvenile brown thrasher high up in a tree but he was gone in a flash.

A lot of yellow was blooming this morning. It was quiet and hot so I’m thinking I’ll come back when the weather cools off, maybe during fall migration.

Looks like a perfect log to take family pictures or take a break.

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All of the usual things

Right when I got to Largo Nature Preserve and was getting out of the car this swallow tail kite flew so close to me that I cut him off. He flew over some trees and I couldn’t find him again.

The usual birds were there. A cattle egret, limpkin and a night heron.

The usual Florida critters were also there.

I did a quick lap around the paved trail and saw this almost grown baby screech owl peaking out of the hole in the tree. I looked for a while for the parent in the area but couldn’t find one. Those tiny owls are good at hiding. I did not stick around to find out if the parent came in to feed the baby but I’m sure it did at some point.

A red bellied woodpecker was popping in and out of this hole but we were all interested in the flickers nesting in the tree next door. More on that to come.

My Corner of the World

Everyone was eating this morning

A chickadee hanging on the moss. He was picking the bugs off the moss.

I found these two woodpeckers that were eating peanuts from the ground at the bottom of a cypress tree near the main trail at Chesnut Park. I don’t know if someone left them there for the birds or if the woodpeckers stashed them there before. They both kept coming down, grabbing a peanut and then going up the tree and eating it. They did this several times.

Heading home, I was driving down the road in the right lane when this swallow tail kite cruised really low right in front of me. I turned into a neighborhood and pulled over and got out as the kite was cruising around. He was circling low all over the neighborhood and then took a dive behind some trees.

When he was visible again he had a lizard in his talons. At this point he started heading out of the neighborhood and across the busy road. It was fun seeing him cruising so low.

Pretty things at a quiet place

Pretty things at Bok Tower Gardens in June.

Boring birds at the feeder but not lacking in color!

A quiet place to reflect.

Heading home from Bok Tower Gardens in June, I stopped on a dirt road to get some shots of the swallow tail kite that was cruising over a cow pasture. I’m sure those cows were thinking “What is that girl doing?”.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Summer critters on summer flowers

Lots of little critters buzzing around at Lettuce Lake in August.

Not many birds but I did see a juvenile northern parula and a red-eyed vireo.

This was the last time I saw the swallow-tail kites, in mid-August. One was flying over the boardwalk. They all left town to head south for the winter.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Birds at Lettuce Lake Park

Usual birds at Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa.

A rare bird you only see soaring high in the sky in the summer, two swallow-tail kites were cruising by while I was on top of the observation tower. One looked like he had something in his claws.

It looked like it was part of a duck or maybe a baby bird. These guys snatch baby birds right out of a nest. They eat while they are soaring, mostly dragonflies though.

A cute black bellied whistling duck cruised by as well.

I stopped by the teeny tiny golf ball size hummingbird nest before leaving the park. At first the almost grown baby was sitting alone on the nest. Then mom flew in to feed it.

Go fly a kite

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After driving around some cow pastures, I saw this up ahead. I pulled over and took the above. It looked liked was raining swallow-tail kites.

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I drove a little farther and found a large group of people standing on the side of the road, next to a watermelon field. They were all watching the swallow-tail kites flying around catching the dragonflies in mid-air and eating them while they were flying.

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I took all of the above while standing on the side of the road. Some were flying over a melon field and some were flying over the cow pasture next door. I’m sure all of the farmers driving by thought we were all crazy. Standing there taking pictures of birds flying that they see each summer. The kites all stop over in central Florida on their way south for the winter. They fill up on dragonflies and other bugs hanging around the fields. I don’t see these kites often. Only a handful in the Tampa Bay area in the past several years. Once word gets out on the bird forums of the kites eating their summer meals, people come from all across Florida to watch the hundreds of kites.  In a few of the pictures, you can just barely see the kites holding a bug and trying to eat it while flying. I struggled to get decent pictures. The kites were flying so fast, zooming across the fields.

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Not a good picture but there were a few Mississippi kites flying around but they stayed pretty far away from the roads. They look smaller than the swallow-tail kites and are almost all gray so they were fairly easy to spot. My husband calls them the ghost birds.

 Skywatch Friday