Riding around the neighborhood.

Out for a bike ride this summer, I always stop at this small pond in the neighborhood. I’m sure it’s just a mosquito pit but I always hope to find some critters getting water. Maybe a deer or raccon but no, just mosquitos. I do hear pileated woodpeckers deep in the woods but I have yet to hike through there.

Just down from the pond the ditches are covered in these purple flowers. The frogs were really loud this morning since it had rained most of the night.

I need to get a bumper sticker for my bike that says “I brake for critters”.  I’m not sure what those black vultures were eating. They wouldn’t let me get too close.

Back at home a bad storm was coming so I took the almost empty bird feeder down and left it just outside the back door. Later that day I look out the window and realized the squirrel had knocked it down and was eating the scraps. When he was done he hopped up on the chair and was giving me the eye to come add more food.

 

Our backyard camera picked up this bobcat creeping around at 2:30am. This was our first bobcat sighting in the neighborhood.

Color on the trees in late July.

All was calm before sunset at the lake across the street.

I have to watch where I stand when I’m taking shots of the sunset. The alligator above was on the shore just below me. He’s relatively small but I see him here often.

Inspire Me Monday

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.

Chesnut Park on a Saturday morning

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.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

 

Some black birds on Halloween

When thinking of a bird that could represent Halloween I think of vultures. Crows or ravens would be scarier but I didn’t come across those recently.  On a day off in September I headed down an hour from my house to Myakka River State Park. I had not been in over a year and wasn’t expecting to find much there in September but I wanted to get out of the house. I found a little obscure trail that led to a dead end with a small dock across the river.  The roof of the dock was covered in vultures and there  were  more nearby on the ground. I think there had been a dead alligator in the area. They were looking at me very curiously, probably wondering what I was doing in their spot.

Up close. This one has a small boo boo on his face.

On the ground next to the trail.

Taken with my phone, you could see how close they were.

I was keeping an eye on this guy right below me in the water.

Breakfast on the trail.

Everyone was eating breakfast along the trail.

Some of the birds were eating the seeds from the bitter melon (or balsom pear).

A few usuals along the trail.

A scruffy looking pine warbler trying to hide in the bushes.

A snail kite across the marsh. He had been diving down getting snails to eat but he was so far away I couldn’t get a clear shot of him moving.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Zoo Tampa in early June

Fun at the zoo in early June. The manatees are back at the zoo which is good and bad thing. The zoo has been updating their water system in the manatee hospital so any injured manatees had to go to Homosassa Springs for rehabilitation for 6 months. Now that the manatee hospital is updated they can take in injured manatees. The bad thing is that the manatees have to be here at all. It’s great that visitors can see these big guys up close and that the zoo treats them but it’s sad that so many are injured due to boat strikes or sick from red tide.

On top of the manatee pool, a few juvenile blue herons are learning how to catch their own fish. These were all probably born in the nests over the alligator exhibit next door.

Vultures were drying off in the bear exhibit. They do this in the morning to easily warm their body up. Not sure why, it was already 85 degrees at 10am. The bear eventually came over to check them out. The vultures didn’t fly off but just moved over. They didn’t seem to scared of the bear.

The last of the wild baby blue heron birds that were growing up over the alligator exhibit.

Photographing New Zealand

My first “Raptor Fest”

I had heard about Raptor Fest at Boyd Hill Park for several years but never went. I’m not keen on going to big festivals at my favorite parks. I’d rather go when it’s quiet and not crowded. This year peer pressure got the best of me when I had several friends saying you have to go this year. I got there early and got a good spot for the Earthquest program in the open field. Earthquest is a non-profit environmental education program that introduces the public to different raptors, all of which have come from rehabilitation situations that cannot be released in the wild. They gave examples of how we impact the raptors lives and ways to lessen that impact.  Above is a hawk, I think a red-tailed hawk which is not rare here but not as common as the red shoulder hawk. He was to fly into the tree and then fly to the perch in front. He flew to the tree but never made it to the perch and took off across the park. He eventually came back but everybody got a good laugh at the handler’s expense.

Above is a Harris’s Hawk which I had never seen before.

Black vulture and turkey vultures, both of which I see a lot of around here. One thing I learned is that black vultures find their food by sight, which is why they soar high in the sky. They have amazing sight. Turkey vultures (with the red face and big nose) find their food by smell, which is why they are mostly seen on the ground.

The above condor stole the show. He’s an andean condor but we learned about California condors and their brink of extinction as well.This guy had so much personality. He was supposed to hop up on the perch to get his food but he showed the handler there was an easier way (although I suspect it was planned all along).

A golden eagle which you can’t find in Florida.

Several local bird rescue and rehabilitation groups were also there with injured birds to get close to. Most were missing a wing or an eye.

My friends were right, it was a fun morning. Crowded but fun to watch the kids see these great birds up close. It was also a good morning to practice flight photography as some of the birds flew from tree to perch. There were tons of big cameras and lenses there. Can’t wait until next year’s in early February. I also got some good pictures of an eurasian eagle owl in flight which I’ll post later.

Linking to My Corner of the World.

Critters at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Some of the critters in the water at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park north of Tampa. I made my annual winter trip in mid-January, hoping to see manatees along the river but the weather had warmed up for a few day and the manatees had scattered around the area.

Yes, this guy was on the other side of the glass. You usually see them sleeping in the back with their eyes closed.

It seemed to be mating day that morning. Both pelicans and some wild vultures were getting frisky in the warm weather.

The calm water in the springs.

Snacking and nesting at Circle B Bar Reserve

Sandhill cranes were just starting to nest out in the marsh.

A new meaning to the term “Big Gulp”.

A wood stork trying not to drop the little fish.

Everyone was snacking including the limpkins.

It’s weird to see vultures flirting.

A cormorant flies by.

Lost of activity at Circle B Bar Reserve in mid March.

SkyWatch Friday

They get no respect

There was a small fish kill on the lake due to the freeze we had for several nights in January. Even thought it got just below freezing here, the fish aren’t use to the cold and there was a small amount of fish floating near the trail per the last picture. The clean up crew (vultures) at Circle B Bar Reserve moved in quickly and were dragging the dead fish up on the trail and feasting away the weekend I was there. They didn’t even bother to move as we walked down the trail.  Just kept eating.

The trees were full of fat and happy vultures.

Several alligators were up on the trail. The vultures didn’t move away when the alligators came up.

This was Momma pig right before she had her babies when she was hanging around the nature center. She walked by so close I could only get her face in. She has since had a litter. More on that to come.

The barred owls were still hiding under the palm tree in mid January. They have since moved to the nest in the hole in the tree.

Vultures are usually plentiful at Circle B Bar Reserve but in mid January the place was covered in them.  They were in the trees all along Marsh Rabbit Run Trail and along the trail feasting on the dead fish. The smell was a little ripe in some places but they were busy cleaning up the place. I went back several weeks later and there was no sign of any dead fish.