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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Things have changed.

The non-profit Clearwater Marine Aquarium opened on Clearwater Beach in 1972 in a former water treatment plant. They opened as a research and learning center and by 1980 they started rehabilitating dolphins. I don’t remember going there as a child when we use to come down to Clearwater to visit my grandparents but I do remember visiting a few times with my parents when they retired down here in the early 90’s. When Brett and I moved down here 19 years ago I got an annual pass and took my Mom there to see the dolphins a lot. She was in a retirement home and was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She lived close by and it made for a fun morning out for her. She loved just sitting and watching the dolphins and turtles swimming around. Back then you could park at the front door and walk right in. No parking decks or lines to get in, You could also get pretty close up to the dolphins.

The aquarium is home to Winter (the movie star from A Dolphin’s Tale). Winter lost his tail years ago and the aquarium was able to get a prosthetic tail to help him swim better. It’s been several years since I had been and they recently had a big addition built on (they added a 1.5 million gallon tank) so I decided to head over to the beach to see Winter on a rare Monday off. I had to pay to park in a deck, stand in a line (small one though) to get in on a Monday. I’m glad they are doing so well though. They do a lot with injured sea life here. Not just rehabilitating them here but they send teams out to rescue as well.

You walk in on the upper level and can see into the pool. I didn’t take many pictures up here since it was dark inside and the dolphins were swimming lower down in the water. This is not a dolphin show like in the old days. These are injured dolphins that are being rehabilitated that you get to see up close. Although if you hit it right at feeding time, the dolphins do perform specific behaviors as part of feeding but no jumping out of the water and flipping over.

Here’s were you want to be. There are windows all around the tank so you can walk around and see different dolphins. Winter and his girlfriend Hope are in the main tank.

Winter did not have on his prostetic tail while I was there. You can see he is missing his flipper. He came pretty close to the window.

On the other side there were several other dolphins swimming close to the window. The glare from the window did not make it easy to get pictures. The dolphins in the main tank live here full time now. They all have some type of injury including vision loss, hearing loss and other illnesses where they would not survive being released back into the wild. The main goal is to release the dolphins back out and most of them do get set free after they recover.

There are also many other types of animals here including lots of turtles. All were injured at some time. You can see in that (blurry) picture on the bottom that the turtle is missing his front feet.

The new building from the upper parking deck.

Pano across the intercoastal waterway looking towards Clearwater.

Looking toward the beach from the aquarium. I should have gone over for a quick swim but the beach was packed in April, even on a Monday. Parking on the beach is also tough and expensive so there’s that. And, I was starving so it was time to head home for lunch.

Yes, masks were still required in April here. Even though a lot of it is outside, people crowd in front of the windows. Hoping my next trip is maskless.

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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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A two park morning

I found these leaves at McGough Nature Park in Largo back in October. They look like lacy leaves. They were spread out all along the trail. I would normally think bugs did this but it almost looks natural and I’ve seen it at several other parks. Does anyone know if this is natural?

I stopped by the turtle pond to say hi to all of the turtles swimming around.

A bunny was sitting right on the trail.

Some of the resident tortoises at the nature center.

It’s not often you get to see a Mississippi kite up close. They are pretty rare to see in the Tampa bay area and this one was rehabbing here at the center.

After leaving McGough Park, I stopped by the Largo Nature Preserve for a quick walk before heading home for lunch. It was a quiet morning so I didn’t stay long.

One last visit to the turtle pond.

The squirrels were getting frisky in late May at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.

Not many birds at the gardens. A pileated woodpecker and a young moorhen.

Grasshoppers are everywhere right now. They can wipe out a plant in no time. You can see them eating the leaves in both of these shots.

It was a quiet morning at the gardens but I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet so I went for a quick walk at nearby McGough Park and to visit the turtles there. Most of the trails here are very narrow so I stayed off those to keep away from having to pass people. I probably won’t make it back to this park until next spring.

The wooden owl in the parking lot.

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This park should be called “Turtle Park”.

Different patterns on the mangrove leaves along the boardwalk.

I finally was able to see a few migrating birds coming through in late April. Since the best place to see spring migration was closed (Fort Desoto Park) here in the area, we were thinking we wouldn’t get to see any birds coming through. Since some of the smaller parks were still open I was able to see a few birds. They were very skittish and stayed hidden in the bushes. Above are a hooded warbler, a redstart and an ovenbird (or at least I think it’s an ovenbird. May be a thrush of some type?).

 

I had not been to McGough Nature Park in Largo in years. It’s a small park that sits on the intercoastal waterway. I had heard there were a few migrating birds there so I headed out not expecting much. I had forgotten that the park has this great turtle pond. There’s a small dock that goes out over the pond and benches all around it. Turtles were all along the bank and it was very peaceful watching them hang out.

My Saturday morning “just being outside” shot from the boardwalk.

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A walk after work

Baby ducks were everywhere on my walk around Carillon Park after work in late April. It looks like those baby moorhens were sitting on cotton in the first picture but that is some kind of algae growing in the lake.

There was also a limpkin trying to feed 2 little babies.

A few of the other birds on my walk. A yellowlegs, a parrot eating something high in a tree and an anhinga with a snack.

Other critters at the lake.

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Visiting Brett’s aunt and the ducks.

Every other Sunday, Brett and I visit his aunt at the nursing home in St. Pete. The weather has been so nice that we spend the time with her hanging out at the duck pond in the parking lot. On a recent Sunday, a little lady came over and fed the ducks while we were there. It looked like seed and cracked corn. All of the birds and ducks came in close and we sat and watched them having their snack.

It was fun watching the duck drama going on.

Later, we moved to another bench and this wood stork walked right up to us. He was hoping we had something to feed him. He watched us for a few minutes and then left. I only had my phone with me so all of the above were taken with that.

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Zoo baby explosion

Zooming in on the marabou stork babies at Zoo Tampa (formerly Lowry Park Zoo). They are born looking like old birds. Reminds me of the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where Benjamin ages in reverse and is born an old person and then turns young. Only these birds look old their entire lives.

A new baby out in the African exhibit staying close to Mom.

The fuzzy white thing is a  baby Colobus monkey. So cute and easy to spot. The keeper said that the entire group helps raise the baby so the baby was comfortable moving around with all of them.

A wild baby tricolored heron waiting for Mom to feed it.

Little blue herons that were born weeks earlier over the alligator exhibit.

Wild baby mallards playing in one of the exhibits.

And just for fun, a turtle train.

So many babies born this early spring at Zoo Tampa. It’s fun to watch the kids get excited seeing all of the baby animals.

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