Pretty things at the Florida Botanical Gardens in late July.
A quiet place to ponder.
Some almost grown wood ducks preening in the shade.
Wood ducks are common year round at the Florida Botanical Gardens. They nest here and if the timing is right you can see them swimming around with babies in the summer. I found 3 males and one female swimming around the main pond early in May. These guys are usually skittish so I stayed at the other end of the pond behind some trees and they just floated around, bathing and flapping. I wondered if there were other females already sitting on eggs somewhere.
At one point two of the males started arguing. Not sure what started it but one was chasing the other away but then they stopped and continued to float around together again.
Lake Morton in Lakeland is a good spot to find white pelicans in the winter besides Fort Desoto. There are a lot fewer at Lake Morton but you can usually get closer. They hang out on the brick retaining walls around the lake. Most of the time they are sleeping when I’m there but on a recent trip they were moving around a little. I think two of them were fighting over space on the floating pole.
A coot swimming by.
Wood ducks were napping up in the cypress trees and some were swimming around the lake.
There’s always turtles sitting on the cypress knees.
The city of Lakeland were selling swans in late October. When I was there they were in holding pens on the lake. I felt bad that they were leaving their home but there have been banner crops of babies over the last few years and the lake is over-run with swans. Swans were getting hit by cars and fighting with each other. Hopefully they’ll go to homes that have more room for them. If I had a small pond on my property I would buy a pair. The money goes back into the fund to feed the swans at this lake.
The big huge milkweed plant at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo was covered in these icky bugs. I didn’t see any caterpillars in early October on the plant which is usually filled with them. I know it’s late for caterpillars but there are usually still a few. It’s warm through December here. I hope they don’t kill the plant.
A few other small critters creeping around the gardens.
There were still lots of swallowtails flying around.
The young wood ducks were starting to get their colors in including that young male hiding behind the big leaf.
I found some very young mute swans preening at Lake Morton at the end of July. These young adults were born early this year and were acting like they own the place.
Juvenile male wood ducks. Just starting to get their male colors in.
I also found some female wood ducks.
This cute little limpkin family stole my heart. Both babies were staying close to Mom.
I stopped by Lake Morton in Lakeland on the way home from Circle B Bar Reserve in mid-May. I usually see one or two wood duck couples there but on this trip they were all around the lake. Sleeping in the grass, hanging out on the swan fences, chasing each other. They must have been gathering for a baby making convention. I have not made it back over to the lake since then so I’m not sure it there were a lot of babies but I would hope so..
All of the usual suspects were there.
Feeding the fowl is encouraged at the lake although bread is extremely discouraged. They have feeders that are filled with pellets that you can buy a handful for a quarter. This lady was feeding them cracked corn.
Clouds were rolling in and it was time to go home for lunch.
Color coming out in early April at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Yes, the gardens were open during the big shut down. I went around 8am and there were very few people there. Most probably thought it was closed. It was nice to walk around in the quiet garden.
Watching these crazy parakeets getting sticks for their nests.
Not many birds in early April. The usual blue jays and wood duck couples. The wood ducks usually have babies here in the summer but they go into hiding and it’s hit or miss seeing them here.
Caterpillars were on the milkweed but those pesky milkweed bugs were taking over.
Young brown thrashers were chasing after Mom in the bushes.
Chickadees were everywhere.
Wood ducks were hiding in the back pond.
The usual downy woodpecker.
I think this parakeet was laughing at me.
Some of the local birds at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo.
One place I consistently see wood ducks is at Lake Morton. Someone put a nest box right on the edge of the lake but I haven’t been back over there since early April to see if they had babies in the box.
Moorhens and coots at the lake. Moorhens have red beaks and they live here all year long. Coots have white beaks and are only here during the winter and early spring. They go back up north for the summer but there were a few stragglers in April.
One of my favorite ducks at the lake. Some type of hybrid mallard.
Across the lake, something had spooked the ruddy ducks and caused them to start scooting across the lake.
They all started taking off and landed on the other side of the lake. They are pretty skittish and don’t come close to the edge of the lake.