I was out running errands one morning this summer and I had my camera in the car so I took a long slow back road to get home. There wasn’t much traffic on this road so I pulled over to get some shots of the yellow tickseed blooming and the clouds moving in.
I found a cow pasture with a sandhill crane family feeding on the bugs in the cow patties. The couple had a juvenile with them.
A cow was poking her head through the fence to get to the good grass.
A swallow tail kite flies overhead while I was pulled over taking pictures of the cow.
Meadowlarks were singing along the cow pasture.
Why did the vulture cross the road? I saw this vulture sitting on the road up ahead. Then I saw a few more along the ditch so I pulled over.
They were feasting on what looked like a cow leg. So many questions! Did the cow get loose? Did the leg fall off a truck? I didn’t see any cow pastures on this part of the road. Where did it come from? Or was it something else? A wild hog? That would be a pretty big one if so. Vultures are nature’s cleaning crew and they were doing their job.
When you first drive into Myakka River State Park you come to a small bridge. Most people pull off and park and walk over the bridge to look for alligators. I did the same. I saw all of the above from the bridge. Fourteen alligators in the first few minutes of driving into the park (all from a far away safe distance). That limpkin in the last shot was a little too close though.
After the bridge I pulled over at the big field to get some shots of the tickseed in full bloom.
Out in the field I noticed an eagle sitting high up in a utility tower.
There’s something magical about standing in a field of yellow flowers, especially one this big. I was only standing right off the road.
After taking in the flowers I headed over to the edge of lake to see what I could find. Walking down the path from the parking lot I had to keep my eyes open. This guy was just off the path so I stayed far away.
Looking across a small creek I could see the river bank full of them. I counted 32 alligators this morning. I’m sure it’s the most I’ve seen in one day.
It was mid-May and I was hoping the yellow flowers were out at Myakka River State Park. Tickseed is the official Florida state wildflower and blooms naturally in central Florida during May. The park is one of the best places to see it blooming. Huge fields of yellow as far as you can see. I was hoping to see some birds as well since migration was still going on.
I ran into some other birders when I first got there and they were heading into the swamp just off the main road to see some barred owls (you could actually see the owls from the road if you knew where to look through the trees). We couldn’t find the adults but the 2 juveniles were easy to spot. They both still had a little baby fuzz on their heads. The oldest was trying to take an early morning nap until the sun hit his face. The younger one in the bottom shot was wide awake and looking around.
We then found one of the adults. She took off quickly farther into the woods.
The thistle was also blooming.
Some black bellied whistling ducks flew overhead.
There were several limpkins feeding along the bank of the river.
I watched this great blue heron play with his food for 15 minutes before leaving.
I saw a record number for me of alligators on this trip to the park. More on them and the tickseed later.
I headed down to Myakka River State Park in mid-May. It’s about an hour and a half from my home near Tampa. I knew I probably wouldn’t see a lot of birds since the water was low in the lake and spring migration was mostly over but that was okay. I really came to see the fields of yellow. Tickseed (formal name is coreopsis) was named the state wildflower in 1991 and you can see plenty of it here. I got to the open field and got out of the car and used my phone to take the above pano. Yellow as far as the eye can see.
There was also some thistle blooming along the road which added some pink.
I was hoping to see some deer or turkey crossing the field but after waiting an hour all I got was a crow.
The sun coming through the tree.
Along a path near the lake, the thistle was growing so high I couldn’t see over it.
Besides the yellow tickseed in May, this park is known for having a lot of alligators. Looking across a river there were several sunning themselves and one swimming by from the left. The pink buds in front of the tickseed is swamp milkweed.
Before heading out I stopped at this pond and snapped the above with my phone.