A squirrel and a frog


Not sure what this warbler is. Too pale to be a yellow warbler. Could be a first year of some type? No real markings on it.


It was the only warbler I saw that morning at the end of September.


The catbirds are back for the winter. I’ve been seeing them everywhere in the last 2 weeks.


The most exciting thing I saw. A squirrel eating a pine cone.


Looks like he’s eating corn on the cob the way that he’s holding that pine cone.


This flew very high up over my head. Someone yelled out that is was a peregrine falcon. If so, it’s a first sighting for me (or at least a blurry one from far away).


Before leaving the park I headed to the bathroom. I’m usually pretty good about looking around for snakes or spiders in park restrooms. Don’t want to get bit on the bottom. I didn’t even notice this guy until I turned around to flush. Of course I pulled out my phone and took the above picture.

It was a beautiful morning but a little disappointing in the way of birds. If the highlight is a squirrel and frog, it’s a slow morning. But, the weather was perfect and I got a good walk in.

Linking to Saturday’s critters

Looking for migrants


I started the morning out at Sawgrass Lake park. I had heard there were different warblers moving through there on their way south for the winter. When I got to the parking lot, there were already several other birders there looking high up in the trees with binoculars. There were a few tiny birds up there but getting a picture was almost impossible. They were high up in the tops of the trees and didn’t sit still for a minute. I was pretty excited to get the above but then realized it was a just a blue-gray gnatcatcher. Oh well.


I think everyone was saying this was a blackburnian warbler. Not a first for me but not very common. Most of my shots were turning out this way. Blurry shots of a bird partial behind leaves. We get so spoiled at Fort Desoto in the spring. The birds come down within eye level and will stay in place eating for a few seconds.


I saw this juvenile red bellied woodpecker. He was just starting to get his red feathers.


There were a few butterflies close by.


I left Sawgrass Lake Park and stopped by Crescent Lake Park. The first thing I saw was this hawk flying into the tree. He seemed to stalking the ibis. I can’t tell whether this is a juvenile red shoulder hawk or a cooper’s hawk.


The palm trees around the lake had these orange spikes growing out.


Most of the geese were across the street sleeping in someone’s yard.


This one was checking me out. Probably hoping I had food.


I guess the neighbors are used to having their yard full of goose poop.


The same hawk kept flying around the trees. He would swoop down close the ibis but I never saw him catch anything. I think he needs to stick to lizards and squirrels.


Berries on an old tree.


This is all one big banyan tree (taken with my phone since I didn’t have my wide-angle lens). It’s fenced off to protect it from people trying to climb it. It’s about to fall apart. I think this is the largest one I’ve seen in the Tampa Bay area. There’s a big one in Sarasota on the Ringling Museum grounds as well. The largest banyan tree in Florida is in Fort Myers in the yard of Thomas Edison’s house. It was brought over from India where banyan trees are originally from and planted in 1925. The one above is pretty amazing. I would love to have that shade over my house. The branches facing the lake were full of ibis napping.

Saw an otter eating while checking on an owl


I stopped by a local park to see if the great horned owl was nesting yet. There she was looking like she’s been sleeping for a while.


The park was pretty quiet except for the normal mallards mottled ducks (thanks to Wally for the correct ID. We get a lot more mallards than mottled here.)


And boring old warblers.


I saw this cormorant swimming way too close to the alligator.


Then I heard some commotion in the reeds near me and saw an otter with a fish. He saw me looking at him and moved around to the other side of the reeds where I couldn’t see him.


I moved around to the other end of the boardwalk and was able to see him but he was into the sun. He chowed down on that big fish for a few minutes before taking off.


Just a few things on my walk around a small park recently on a Saturday morning. I’ve seen otters there before but usually down in a little creek and they don’t hang around for a second. The above was out in the open lake but wanted to eat his fish in peace. After that last shot, he disappeared. I looked for him for a while but no sign of him again.  I’m keeping my eye on that owl. Last year she had two babies so hopefully I’ll be able to watch more babies grow up this year.

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A morning in a cemetery – Skywatch Friday


It wouldn’t be a day out in nature without seeing some squirrels.


Blue jay keeping an eye on me.


I think this is a chipping sparrow?  They were all over the cemetery.


Getting a drink from an empty planter.


Robins were everywhere.


Mockingbird on a cross.


A warbler in the bushes.


I could hear this carolina wren singing all over the cemetery.


Flowers were still blooming.


You can see the capital from across the cemetery.

Even though it was a little cold, it was a beautiful morning. The sun came in and out all morning. Nothing like spending a little time in a cemetery right before Christmas. I’m sure the people there thought I was crazy with my long lens taking pictures of birds. I’ve always said “Cemeteries have good birds.” Even in downtown Atlanta. I was surprised to see so many birds there. I didn’t see the red-headed woodpeckers that I had seen on my last 2 trips there. They may have been hiding. I thought I’d only be there an hour and then go somewhere else, maybe the zoo close by but ended up staying 3 hours.

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My first visit to Cockroach Bay – Skywatch Friday

When I started walking down the trails, I didn’t notice the pink at first. It was only when I turned around and saw the sun coming through the plants that I noticed the color. The trails were covered in this.

I saw this kingfisher hovering over a pond across the trail.

I think this was a yellow rumped warbler. The trail was full of these little guys.

Red shoulder hawk sitting on the wire across the road.

At the top of a small mound, you could see Tampa from far away. I was at least an hour away from the city.

I had heard about Cockroach Bay for several years but never made it there until recently. I went looking for the red-breasted nuthatches that had been sighted there but did not find them. I was joined by several other birders and all we found were tons of yellow rumped and pine warblers. The trails were pretty quiet that morning. It reminded me a bit of my favorite place, Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. Since I have to drive the long way around the bay, it took me longer to get to Cockroach bay so I’ll probably not head back there too often. Didn’t see any cockroaches there. The story is that early explorers saw the horseshoe crabs from a distance and thought they were big cockroaches. The name was never changed.

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