I was out early one morning right before Christmas. My first stop was the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but thought I would do a quick lap around the gardens. The gardens were decorated for Christmas and you could see the lights all over the bushes and trees. I thought this owl statue was cool and would have loved to see it all lit up but I didn’t make it here for the night holiday lights this year.
The usual birds were in the main pond. A green heron at attention, a wood duck (the entire family was floating around the pond) and there were lots of moorhens.
After the botanical gardens, I stopped at nearby Largo Nature Preserve to see if there was anything new. A grebe spent some time preening close to the boardwalk and there have been some northern shovelers there for several weeks now but nothing new or different.
My last stop before heading home wasn’t really a park but the Dunedin marina. I was hoping to see dolphins or manatees hanging around the marina but I didn’t see any on this trip so after walking around for a while it was time to go home for lunch.
A quiet (swampy) place to reflect. Just ignore the Beware of Alligators sign on the right.
This one was watching me as he cruised in front of the dock.
I found a few wood ducks in front of the dock at Chesnut Park.
Young cardinals were all over the park. They were all pretty scruffy looking, not having gotten their adults feathers in all the way yet.
A limpkin trying to hide behind some weeks.
The little chickadees were so cute. There were a lot of them here in early August. I saw my first one here at this park more than 10 years ago and then didn’t see any for a long time. Now I’ve seen a few around on most of my visits in the past few years.
After leaving Chesnut Park and heading home, I stopped at a small park nearby on the bay to see if anything was around the fishing pier. I had fun watching this dog romp around in the low tide. He stuck his tongue in the water for a drink but he did not like that salty water.
The one that got away. After taking a bunch of pictures of the dog in the water, I look up and see the back of an eagle heading the other way. I’ll have to keep an eye out here during the winter to see if there’s a nest nearby.
Wood duck on a log. He didn’t have a tag on so I’m thinking he’s a wild one that is just hanging out here for the food.
Spoonbill shaking off.
It’s rare to be this close to an osprey. Especially when they are taking a bath. This one was in the big aviary.
This wood stork was missing part of its wing.
Both eagles are missing a wing.
A rare white morph great blue heron was in the main pond. I didn’t see a tag on him. He’s got a beautiful face.
I made my annual winter trip up to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in mid-January. It was one of the first cold morning we have had. There was lots of bird activity at the park from injured birds that live there to the wild ones that fly in to visit. I took a ton of pictures so more on those to come.
It’s always fun seeing a cormorant trying to gulp down a big fish.
Wood duck reflection.
I think this is a male american goldfinch in his winter feathers. He was high up in the trees and didn’t sit still for a minute. I rarely see these here.
Great blue heron hopping around in the trees.
There were a lot of great blue heron nests high up in the trees. It was hard to see up there but this nest had two babies that were almost grown.
Green heron hanging around.
Most of these birds were not tagged. They might just be hanging out with the permanently injured birds for the winter.
This is a white morph great blue heron. I’ve never seen one here before and this is 2nd time I’ve ever seen one. He wasn’t tagged so I’m not sure if he is just stopping by for a quick visit.
A great egret trying to catch some minnows and coming up with a beak full of leaves.
I made my annual trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in early March. It’s a safe haven for permanently injured birds and other Florida animals. A lot of wild birds and ducks hang out there to get free food. Some come in to nest in the trees over the water. There’s always a lot to take pictures of at the park. Sometimes in nice not to have to run around in the woods looking for tiny birds high up in the trees. Sometimes it’s nice to just stand in one place and take lots of pictures.
Red bellied woodpecker has a big nut. I think he was hiding it in the hole.
Pileated woodpecker on a utility pole. These birds have done a lot of damage to the poles there. You can see where they try to patch them up but the woodpeckers just move and create new holes.
A lone female wood duck. I found her in a small pond behind the old butterfly garden.
Red bellied woodpecker and easter phoebe were sitting in the same tree. I could hear the phoebe singing from across the lake.
Wild monk parakeet hanging on a pole. There’s a small flock that always seem to be around the gardens.
I finally made it over to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo after trying the weekend before and getting deterred by a huge crowd coming for an event. This Saturday morning it was quiet. I could even hear that phoebe singing all morning. There wasn’t anything unusual there. But still, it was a nice morning out and I got a good 2 hour walk in.
I found one of the baby owls high up in the tree scratching an itch.
The older sibling was even higher up sleeping. I found him through an opening in the branches.
Wood duck floating down the river by the owl tree.
A hawk flies by.
Butterflies and flowers are now everywhere.
After my trip to Fort Desoto to see the new owl family, I decided to stop by Kapok Park on the way home to see the two baby owls there one last time. I had heard they were flying around from branch to branch and really hard to find now that they have left the nest. Soon they’ll leave the park for good. I got there hoping to find them one last time. I kept looking high up in the tree and finally found the first one when it moved to scratch. I decided to walk around the boardwalk for a while and walking back I saw the other owl high up through the branches sitting in the sun. They grow up so fast. Now that they are grown up I’ll probably have the park all to myself. Just me, the dog walkers and joggers. There’s still a lot of great stuff there even without the owls. Now that it’s light after work, I’ll head there for a walk before heading home often.