Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Snowy egret braving the cold wind.
This lone white pelican was flying around. They are usually with large groups so I'm not sure where the rest of his friends where.
This turkey vulture was showing off.
I took a long walk around Boyd Hill Park in St. Petersburg this past Saturday. The day started off windy, a little cool and cloudy with a chance of rain. There didn't seem to be a lot of birds around. I ran into a couple from England who came over for a couple of weeks for vacation and they asked me where were all the birds. He had a camera with him and said they come every year at this time and in the past the parks have all been full of big water birds. He said they had not seen a lot of birds anywhere they had been since middle of January. I have been asking myself the same question. I'm assuming the much colder than usual temperatures has pushed them further south. I'm not sure if south Florida is seeing an influx of birds more than usual. Hopefully once the weather warms up a bit for a while the big birds will show up again.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
This anhinga caught a big fish. They must have really expandable necks because he swallowed this whole after banging it around on the branch a few times.
Blue winged teals swimming around.
Palm warbler sitting in the bush.
Monday, February 22, 2010
This egret must have thought he was standing on a log instead of an alligator's tail.
I'm sure this great blue heron could have flown away if the alligators actually moved. Although that alligator behind him sure was smiling at him.
Occasionally a bird gets too close to a hungry alligator. I heard the splashes and looked over to see this alligator swimming around with his prize lunch.
There are two main things you see at Gatorland - lots of big alligators and big wild water birds. For the most of time they seem to co-habitat well together. The birds hang around the ponds at Gatorland to catch crumbs of the food being fed to the alligators and because there is lots of fish in the ponds for them to eat. The alligators keep away raccoons that would eat the bird eggs. I did happen to catch nature happening while I was there when an alligator must have been hungry and a bird got lazy and too close. It's a sad circle of life.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sitting on the nest. There aren't any babies yet but they will be coming soon.
Saturday morning I went to Gatorland. Not to see the alligators, although there will be pictures of those coming. Bird nesting season has started there. They have a bird rookery there that is amazing during this time through spring. The mangroves along the boardwalk were full of great egrets (who apparently are the first type of these birds to nest). Last year I went in early May and the place was full of tricolor herons and blue herons with babies. During mating season great egrets get bright green color around their beaks that you don't see in the summer and fall. They do these strange mating dances that are fun to watch. The rookery was buzzing with egrets gathering sticks, flying around getting food and fixing their nests. They nest there because they seem to know that the alligators in the lake below will keep the raccoons from getting their eggs. I plan to go back in late March to see if any babies have hatched.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
As I was leaving the zoo this past weekend I noticed 3 sandhill cranes walking down the street away from the zoo. I turned back around into the parking lot of the zoo and parked my car at the end near the street. I got out and sat down in the parking lot near the grass and watched the cranes walk around. They didn't seem too disturbed by me. They just kept eating and walking around. Every once in a while they would look over at me. It's not very often you see sandhill cranes walking down a busy street in Tampa. My husband claims he sees them on the golf course all the time (although he doesn't play that much golf).
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Lowry Park Zoo has a handful of beautiful white pelicans that live in the big aviary in the African section of the zoo. They fly back and forth across the pond several times a day and stay together in a flock just like they do in the wild. This past weekend I happen to be there when they were being fed. They were so graceful the way they lined up and then caught the fish. There were a few cormorants braving the crowd looking for some crumbs.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Great egret guarding the 2 hippos.
Great egrets beginning to nest high up in the trees above the alligator pond.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
A handful of oystercatchers hanging out on an oyster bar in the lagoon.
This past weekend I went to Weedon Island for a presentation on eagles in Pinellas county given by Barb Walker of the Project Eagle Watch. It was very interesting to learn about all of the eagles nests in the county and how they are doing. There's a huge group of volunteers that keep an eye out on these nests. I figured while I was there I'd bring my camera and get in a good walk around the reserve. I never seem to see much whenever I go there. It's just miles of boardwalk with 10 feet of mangroves on both sides. It was so windy out that I think all of the birds were hiding. I did manage to find a few sleeping in the mangroves around the inside ponds but not much else.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Winter seems to love scratching her belly on the float.
Winter getting a check up.
Friday, February 5, 2010
It's amazing such a beautiful place is hidden in a busy part of town. There's a Home Depot almost right across the street from the entrance. When you get into the park it's quiet and peaceful (except for all of the kids running around playing and yelling). It sits on the side of a pretty big lake and there are smaller ponds all inside the park. There's a big mound in the middle of one of the ponds with an osprey nest on it. There were already 2 osprey sitting on top of the nest when I walked by. Last spring there were 2 great blue heron nests with babies in the pine trees next to the osprey nest. I haven't seen any there yet but it's early for great blues. Even on a drizzling rainy day it's a fun place to spend a couple of hours.