Saturday, April 30, 2011

A few non-bird animals at Circle B Bar Reserve


Always lots of alligators around.


My first wild pig sighting. Thrilling, huh?


There's always tons of cute turtles along the trail.


Fish were coming through the pipes between the ponds and flopping around the rocks until they made it into the pond.

There's always something interesting to find at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. Sometimes you forget to look around for other things besides birds. I never thought to notice the fish but I was standing right above the pipes that run the water through the different ponds and saw something shiny flopping around in the water. I'm surprised there weren't any birds around at the time. Seems like the fish would have been any easy meal. Maybe all the birds were full from breakfast there and were napping (it was getting close to lunch).  I've always heard about the wild pigs running around and hadn't seen any until my recent trip. A big mom was across the creek at the beginning of Alligator Alley so I couldn't see her too well. I saw one piglet hiding in the bushes but it never came out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cactus and dolphins at Fort Desoto - Skywatch Friday


The cactus were blooming and the butterflies were eating.


The fields were full of blooming cactus.


Pretty flower.



Dolphin at the fishing pier.


video

The wild dolphin show at the pier.


Someone was stand-up boarding around the park.

Another beautiful day at the beach!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring at Boyd Hill Nature Park


Lily pads are blooming and bees are buzzing.


Cormorants resting near the trail.


Anhinga is trying to hide under the statue. (Downtown St. Pete in the background.)




Butterflies are everywhere.


Big tooth giving me a grin. This guy was laying right under the boardwalk.  Since the water was so high he had traveled far into the swamp.

Lots of spring nature happening at Boyd Hill Nature Park in St. Petersburg. Tons of people are coming out to see the grooved bill ani that is still there but there's so much more to see at the park. This was the only alligator I saw. I think since the water was so high most of them were hiding. The place was full of butterflies and dragonflies. There were osprey flying around. They probably have nests somewhere in the park. It's a nice walk when it gets hot because the front trail closest to the lake is almost all shaded and you get the breeze over the water. I'll be heading there a lot this summer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Variety of birds at Circle B Bar Reserve


A scene from Circle B Bar reserve. Taken at the dock over the lake on Alligator Alley. There were a few great egrets hanging out in the trees.


Blue jays must think they are tough. This one kept trying to pick on a hawk.


The hawk got annoyed and left.


Opsrey defending it's nest from another osprey. The nest is sitting on top of a dead palm tree.


There are a handful of glossy ibis hanging around the marsh. From far away the glossy almost looks black but when the sun hits them you can see the burgandy and green iridescent color.


People say the birding season at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland is winding down. Especially since the best trail is closed until late fall due to alligator nesting season. But there are still so many different things to see out there. I'm going to try and head back there a few more times before it gets too hot. I still want to see the baby sandhill crane growing up and I just heard there's a red shouldered hawk's nest with babies. I've never seen baby hawks before.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Rare Bird at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve






I had heard the grooved bill ani was at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve for a couple of weeks. But it was right when I had company visiting and then we went to Ft. Lauderdale and I couldn't seem to get down there for a while. I finally had a few days off during the week and decided to try and see if the bird was still there. I had never heard of this bird before. It certainly doesn't look very pretty. But boy does this bird have personality. I think that's why so many people have made it to the park to see it. I thought there wouldn't be too many people there on a Wednesday afternoon. I was wrong. I walked up and down the north part of the trail looking for the bird with several other photographers. We were looking up in the trees. Ha! That bird was laughing at us. Finally, a volunteer from the park came by with several birders and he shook a big bush close by us and out pops the bird on the ground. The ani eats bugs on the ground that are stirred up sort of like cattle egrets do with cows. We were all standing there watching this bird stare at us and all of a sudden he ran towards my feet. The more I backed up the closer he got. It was hard getting good shots since I had my 500mm lens with me. Finally, I walked pretty far down the trail to get pictures.

The ani is normally found in south Texas and central America. It's rare to see one in Florida. It must have really flown off the beaten path. Recently, Boyd Hill had a planned burn in the park and everyone was worried it would scare off the bird. The Boyd Hill team kept the fire away from the area and a week later the bird is still there. If you go to visit, you can pick up a hand written map that shows you where the bird hangs out, down to which pine tree to look around. Usually though, there's a crowd there.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sad eagle news in Pinellas county. But all is not lost.

Eagle followers in Pinellas county received bad news earlier this week. The baby eaglet from Tierre Verde, just outside of Fort Desoto Park, died on Monday. It had been flying for several weeks now. Florida Fish and Wildlife have taken the eaglet and will perform test to see if they can determine what happened. I've always read 40% of baby eagles don't survive but it's still so sad. Someone from the St. Petersburg Audubon posted on facebook that out of the 48 baby eagles that were born in Pinellas county this spring, this is the 2nd one that has died. I didn't hear what happened to the first one. I guess the county is beating the statistics so far. Here is my post of the pictures I had taken when the baby was still on the nest - Fort Desoto eagle post.

Below are pictures of the baby eagles at the St. Petersburg cemetery taken a few weeks ago. Both babies are just starting to flap their wings. By now they are probably flying from tree to tree. We're all holding our breath these eagles make it.










Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunset in my backyard - Skywatch Friday






For just a few weeks, twice a year, the sun sets right down the middle of our channel in our backyard. The rest of the time it's either on the extreme left or right and goes down past trees. We're at the end of the channel. Looking down from our backyard you have to take a left in front of the houses at the other end to get out into the open bay. A few weekends ago we had perfect weather and I had to go outside and take some pictures. By now the sun goes down on the right side of the channel behind all of the palm trees.  Below is the view from my kitchen, taken through the dining room window.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My first barred owls and I take bad pictures!


Baby barred owl sitting on the nest.


Mom flies over with a squirrel.


Mom looks over at us.


She's thinking about leaving. Who wants to eat with a bunch of photographers taking pictures.


Off she goes. The baby is thinking "bring back that squirrel."

The first time I see barred owls in the wild and I couldn't even get decent pictures. The light was bad. The sun was hitting over the top of the trees but the nest was in the shade. They were really far away and I didn't have my tripod with me. I walked almost the entire length of Alligator Alley at Circle B Bar Reserve looking for the owls. It wasn't until I got close to the end of the trail at the intersection when I saw all of the photographers standing around. For at least an hour we all stood there watching the baby sit on the nest. It was getting hot. The sun was throwing awful shadows on the nest. All of a sudden one of the parents flew up with a squirrel and then flew off again. We waited around for a while and the parent did not come back. At that point I decided to take off for my own lunch. I plan to go back in the next few weeks but I doubt the baby will still be around then. I will take my tripod and I just bought a remote shutter release so I'm excited to use that to see if it helps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sandhill Crane Family at Circle B Bar Reserve



"Look mom, I can touch my tummy!"


"Am I a boy or a girl?"


"Wait for me!"


"Yuck, I'm not eating that bug!"


"Ignore the big bird behind me."

"Thanks for the snack, Mom."


"I hate getting wet."

Another serious "too cute" moment, but sad as well. Back in mid-February, I was able to get shots of the sandhill crane on a nest with eggs in the middle of the marsh. A couple of weeks ago I had read that the babies had hatched and were moving around the park with the parents. I saw several pictures of 2 babies posted on flickr but by the time I was able to get out to the park one of the babies was gone. No one knows what happened. Could have been an alligator or bobcat.  I found the family wandering around Heron Hideout trail (along with a long line of photographers). I took my place along the side of the trail and started snapping pictures. The parents stayed really close to the baby and kept feeding it. It was mesmerising to sit and watch the family walk around. They didn't seem to mind the large group watching them since everyone stayed pretty far away and didn't crowd them. After a while the family moved closer to the closed Rabbit Marsh trail and I headed back to my car.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Burrowing Owls at Brian Piccolo Park







I don't think I've seen anything so cute. These little owls stole my heart on a recent Saturday morning. I was in Ft. Lauderdale with hubby visiting relatives for a long weekend. We stayed at a different hotel than we usually do and it just happened to be down the street from Brian Piccolo Park. I had heard there were burrowing owls there and I've never seen them out in the wild. The park does not open until 8am so I didn't have to get there too early. I was the 2nd car in line to get in. It's not a nature park but a sports complex. I drove past soccer fields and baseball fields to the back and across from the skate park I saw the first nest.  They are pretty easy to find since they are marked with four stakes and yellow tape around each one. I was so excited to see owls sitting there. I took about a million pictures right away. After I finally took a deep breath and started looking around I realized there are tons of nest everywhere. They are just off of the parking lots in the dirt, all along the baseball fields and along the back of the park. They stayed pretty close to their roped off area.

Their facial expressions were amazing. I could have sat there all day and watched them. I stopped at a few different nest but eventually I had to head back to the hotel to get ready to spend the rest of the day with the relatives (all in-laws of course).  The two hours went by fast! I'll be stopping by there again next year.