Pulling off in a ditch

I was heading home on a quiet road that was being widened when I saw the bright pink spots in the ditch. The ditch was full of water from the storms and was more like a river at this point. Of course, since I had my camera in the car, I turned around and came back to the spot, pulling of the road. It’s not often you see this many spoonbills hanging out together, even if it was noon and the sun was straight up.

The angle of the bright light was bad and it felt like being in a swamp but I was still determined to spend some time watching these beautiful spoonies going about their lunch. A tricolored heron walked up and the spoonies ignored him as he cruised right through their party.

The spoonies were busy sleeping, preening, feeding or yawning or really just chilling on this hot day.

I looked down and this fiddler crab was not happy I was there, shaking his claw at me as he was trying to hide in the muck.

Early morning at Lettuce Lake Park

The lake was low in early June. The summer rains weren’t in full swing yet. The birds above were standing knee deep and they were pretty far out in the lake.

A few spoonbills were feeding close to the boardwalk.

Other birds along the boardwalk were storks and a tricolored heron, posing on a snag.

I saw this northern parula singing his heart out.

A very young titmouse.

Black bellied whistling ducks were cruising by the overlook tower and landing in the trees. They kept hopping from tree to tree, calling out to each other. I saw them when I first got to the park and was on the boardwalk. They were gone 20 minutes later so timing is everything.

My first robber fly sighting. What a cool bug. Although I probably would have freaked out at first if he flew on me. I saw him land on this branch and was wondering what it was.

Views from the boardwalk, not so early in the morning. Although I was there right when it opened at 8am and before there were lots of people on the boardwalk. It was so hot. I can’t image being out here after 11am in June.

SkyWatch Friday

Spring migration was a bust

McGough Park in Largo is another spring migration hot spot so I stopped there in late April but all I got was turtles. After walking around for an hour and seeing very few birds I left and headed to Largo Nature Preserve.

Not many migrating birds here either but lots of other stuff. I thought the bottom shot was just a weird looking butterfly but then realized it was two butterflies. Not sure if they were mating or feeding on something but they stayed there for a while.

I caught this osprey cruising by me with a really big stick heading to a nest. What is that saying? “Speak softely and carry a big stick”. This is more like “Fly high and carry a big stick”.

A tricolored heron creeping around in the muck.

A big family and almost grown babies in the bottom shot.

This was the first time I’ve seen black bellied whistiling ducks here, much less any where in Pinellas county so I was surprised. They were on the golf course across the canal.

This lone spoonbill was busy feeding and wandering around looking for the best spot.

As I was walking the path something blue whizzed by. Wait, what was that? Finally, a migrating bird. It was a blue grosbeak and when I cropped this shot up I realized there was an immature orchard oriole with him (the yellow one on the right). The oriole took off and I wasn’t able to find him again.

The blue grosbeak had a lady friend with him (the brown one on the top) and they stayed in the area for a few minutes before taking off across the park.

This guy sleeps under the boardwalk. I took this with my phone but I was on the boardwalk at the time.

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Are there babies yet?

The trees were still bright red in early February, showing a pop of color across the pond.

The usual birds were still at Possum Branch Preserve. A grebe and a tricolored heron were easy to photograph.

We had a new visitor to the pond. A few glossy ibis showed up. It’s the first time I’ve seen a glossy ibis in this part of Pinellas county and the first I’ve heard of one being at this pond. They were pretty skittish but one let me get some good shots when I hid behind the tree. He was busy eating the pond bugs.

I stopped by a nearby park to see if the great horned owls were still nesting. It was quiet this morning and the other photographers there thought there were babies but no one has seen them yet. I was thinking it was a little early anyway. When I got home and cropped up the shot of the mom sleeping in the nest, I could just make out some white fuzz under her chin so there was at least one baby in the nest. It was going to be a while before we really got to see anything.

Dad was on a branch farther up the tree.

Some cute little squirrels were hiding in a tree nearby.

More shots to come of the baby owls and those cute little squirrels from a later trip.

My Corner of the World

Gorgeous males in my neighborhood

For the past several years we’ve had hooded mergansers spend part of the winter swimming around a small pond in my neighborhood. The pond is fresh water but they also cruise up and down the salt water canals occasionally while they are here. Coming home from running errands in late November I saw them and ran home and got my camera. I parked a little ways down the street and snuck up behind a tree. They are very skittish but didn’t seem to mind me as long as I didn’t get to close. There were 2 males and one female. They kept swimming around diving for food but I didn’t see them get anything. They were still there through late January. Hoping they return next year.

I think this tricolored heron was wondering what I was doing there.

A drive along the lake

Everyone was eating breakfast at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late October.

A great blue heron off in the distance.

A young purple gallinule showing off his big feet.

A kingfisher sitting still. I took this from the car since I knew the second I opened that door he would be gone.

A tricolored heron guarding the sign.

A few of the smaller gators along the drive. I never seem to see the really big ones there.

More along the drive. I was having hip pain in late October so I decided to head over to the wildlife drive in Apopka and stay off me feet for a while. I ended up with hip bursitis which has slowed me down for a while in early November. It was taking forever to heal since I can’t seem to sit still very long.

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Crescent Lake Park

The usual birds at Crescent Lake Park in downtown St. Pete.

Monk parakeet hiding in a tree.

There’s a tree across the lake in someone’s yard that was full of these blooms. Now I wished I had taken a picture with my phone of the entire tree. It was beautiful.

My favorite water tower.

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Hot morning at Horsepower for Kids.

The ducks were cooling off with a bath at Horsepower for Kids Animal Sanctuary in late June. It made me want to jump in with them and go for a swim.

I decided not to jump in the pond since the geese own the pond and they are aggressive.

Even the tricolored heron was cooling off in the water.

I’m not sure if this white pigeon was a resident or just a visitor. He wasn’t in a cage. 

Some of the chickens hanging around.

Jealous of this guy sleeping (maybe not in the dirt though).

Close ups of the faces at the petting zoo.

A Saturday morning walk around the petting zoo.

 

Snail for lunch

I pulled into the parking lot at Largo Nature Preserve and these guys were hanging out in the tree right over my car. If your choice in Florida is parking in the shade and risking bird poop on your car or parking in the sun, you park in the shade.

The tricolored heron was flitting around the boardwalk. I think he was trying to catch dragonflies.

I don’t see red ones often.

This guy was sleeping in the tree but woke up to scratch an itch.

I was excited to see the fuzzy baby limpkin.

Mom was feeding him apple snails.  Mom would pull the meat out of the snail with the end of her beak and give to the baby. By the time I found them it was almost noon and the sun was harsh. I didn’t stay long. It was time for me to head home for lunch as well.

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A walk down Marsh Rabbit Run

Different herons down the trail, A great blue, tricolored, a night heron and then another tricolored almost swimming.

Turtle on the trail.

Why do always get the butt shot pose?  I almost never see these guys walking around and when I do they have their back to me. Usually I just see the below, snoozing and cruising.

All along the trail.

Trees and flowers along the trail.

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