I was out on my bike cruising my new favorite trail through the cow pastures in late February. I had to wait until the sun was up a little since it was a little chilly this morning.
This time the cows were on the far end of the first pasture.
This meadowlark didn’t move from the fence as I rode by so I stopped and got a quick shot of him.
This sandhill couple were right on the trail. By now they should be having babies so hopefully I can catch some little crane colts.
The eagle’s nest far across the pasture was busy with 2 babies almost fully grown. They are way ahead of the ones in my neighborhood.
There are holes along the fence that I usually don’t pay attention to but this one caught my eye. The gopher tortoise had come out of his hole and was sitting close to the trail. They are state-listed as Threatened in Florida so we have to keep our distance.
It was a busy sparrow day along the trail. I found three all feeding nearby. The first is a Savannah with that bit of yellow above the eye. The second is a Swamp (he was hiding in the bushes so it was hard to get him) with that dark brown streak over his head and orange tinted wings. The last two are grasshopper sparrows. There is a Florida subspecies which I thought this one was based on the white tips on the feathers and darker back feathers but after researching their habitat I don’t think it is. They are only found in the middle of the state and are very rare and endangered.
This one is the reason I was taking so many pictures of sparrows. It’s a vesper sparrow and my first one. It’s not rare for him to be here in central Florida but this was the first I’ve heard of one being in the Tampa bay area and he’s been hanging out at the cow pasture for a few weeks.
A phone shot of the cow pasture and one of the many ponds. These are the perfect Florida winter days, sunny and 70 degrees.
I love going to Circle B Bar Reserve early in the morning when it’s foggy (as long as it burns off quickly). It makes the reserve look different than other days. You can see all of the spider webs across the marsh and it makes you realize just how many spiders there are out there.
Black bellied whistling ducks flying out across the marsh.
The bur marigolds were blooming in mid-November and the marsh was a blanket of yellow.
A few of the little critters flying around.
It was a quiet day for birds, except for some of the usuals including purple gallinules and swamp sparrows.
It was nice to see the deer close by in late February.
Taken with my phone, you can see them wandering around near the picnic area next to the lake.
Usual birds include a bluebird, swamp sparrow, carolina wren (singing his heart out) and a purple gallinule (showing off his big yellow feet).
Lots of color in February (which is really our fall). I’m not sure what the pink seed pods are but I’ve seen the squirrels eat them.
He was so close to the boardwalk that I had to take this with my phone to get him in.
I was leaving the park and saw some vultures fighting in the outfield of the ballfield (no one was playing). I parked and got out to see what they were fighting over. Whatever it was had been cleaned off.
I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while. I had taken the above in early December.
Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.
This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.
It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.
Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.
I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.
Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk. I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.
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.