Monday, August 31, 2009

White bird condos

I was going to lunch today and passed this big bush in the middle of a retention pond. It was full of egrets; great, snowy and cattle. I had to pull over on the side of the road and take a picture. They seemed to be hidden in the bush to stay out of the sun. (Taken with my old Fuji P&S).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bug convention

It was sunny this morning so I made a trip to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Not many birds there today. I think they all flew north for the summer. Lots of cool insects though. There's a butterfly garden hidden away there that was full of butterflies. I saw a hummingbird there with the butterflies but was not able to get a picture. There were dragonflies, tadpoles, turtles and grasshoppers everywhere. I only saw one alligator, the rest must have been underwater.

I also ran into this woodpecker sitting high on a utlity pole. He was on the mulch path that runs around the retention ponds. Those utility poles are full of holes. He looks like he is left over from the 70's punk phase.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shorebirds on the causeway.

Marbled Godwit standing in the water. Need a toothpick?

The black skimmer heads up the flock of seagulls.

A willet standing on one foot. How can this be comfortable?

A tricolored heron flying off in front of the causeway right before the storm.

Seagull taking a bath.

I stopped off on the Courtney Campbell causeway on the way home from work tonight. It was raining on the Clearwater side and hadn't started to rain on the Tampa side. I had my camera with me so I decided to get out and walk for a while and get some pictures. It has rained every night this week on the way home.
There was a large variety of shorebirds along the water. My first sighting of a marbled godwit. I love his long pink bill. He wouldn't let me get too close so the picture is very cropped. Same for the willit. It's funny how the seagulls will let you walk right up to them. There was a large flock of skimmers that kept flying back and forth across the section of the causeway.
Lots of bird activity before the rain. It started to drizzle so I headed back to my car and drove home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Not much wildlife to see when nature looks like this every day for weeks. It's the typical August rain storms. Only they start around lunch and keep going all afternoon. This is my drive home every day this week so far. I have not been able to get out to a park to take pictures. Maybe this weekend. (Taken with my Blackberry)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Crescent Lake Park

It’s hot. It was so hot and steamy when I got up on Saturday morning. It looked like it might rain. I’m crazy when it comes to weather so I ventured out anyway. I had heard about a small flock of geese that live at Crescent Lake Park in St. Pete year round. When I got there around 9am there were tons of people everywhere. Everyone wanted to take advantage of the early morning sun before the afternoon rains hit. Lots of people walking dogs and kids were playing on the playground.

I found the geese at the south end of the lake. I only saw 2 couples. One goose looked very pregnant. These guys were very aggressive. I’m sure people feed them there. If you walk up to take a picture they come running up to you. If you don’t have food they attack your ankles. I saw this happen with a girl who had a point & shoot camera. Luckily I stayed far back with my 500mm lens. Not much else as far as nature there that morning except for the usual flocks of ibis and ducks.

I left the park and stopped by the St. Petersburg pier before heading home. Even the pier seemed quiet. Storms were brewing out in the bay. Not many people or birds there. A few pelicans were flying around. I was able to catch a few in flight before the rain started.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pelican release

I recently had the good fortune to see around 140 pelicans released from the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.They were all injured birds that had been brought to the sanctuary to be fixed up and rehabilitated in the past several months.

My friend Laura who volunteers there emailed me about the release and said I should come down and take pictures. Brett and I went thinking we'd help out but when we arrived there were over 40 volunteers waiting in line to get a pelican, get it banded and walk it down to the beach and set it free. It was great fun watching the smiling faces walking the pelicans down the beach. I'm sure the pelicans were happy as well.

If you are in the Redington Shores or Indian Shore beach area you should stop in and see the place. They have hundreds of permanently injured seabirds there along with a few owls, vultures and hawks. They are non-profit and there is no charge to get in but there are donation boxes around the place.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gatorland Bird Rookery

This past May I went to Gatorland. I didn't have any desire to go to an alligator attraction but I heard there was an unusual bird rookery there. The big alligator lake had mangroves all along the boardwalk and big wild water birds were coming there to breed.

Brett and I got up early one Saturday and drove over to Orlando. We got there when it opened at 9am. We walked straight back to the boardwalk. I thought we'd be one of the few people there that early. Coming around the corner there were at least 15 guys there already taking pictures with their big guns (big cameras, big lenses, big tripods). I found out later you can buy a photo pass to get in as early as 7am.

The mangroves were filled with birds: cattle egrets, great egrets, blue, tri-colored and great blue herons. I heard there were spoonbills (didn't see any). There were so many babies, from months old to days old. The parents were busy feeding them. It was very loud with all those babies crying. If you're into birds it's a great spectacle to see.

The alligators were fun to see as well. You can feed them and wrestle with them (we did neither). They had parrots, snakes and a few other animals. It was a fun morning.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Atlanta trip

Today I am on my way back home from Atlanta for a quick trip. Yesterday was such a beautiful day there I had to go to the zoo.

When I first arrived I noticed the baby flamingos. There were 7 babies. They were so cute in their grey fuzz. It's the first time I've seen kids get excited over flamingos.
Then I headed to the back of the zoo to see Xi Lan, the baby panda. She turns one this month but is still so funny rolling around and climbing the structure in the exhibit. A warning if you visit in the summer, the glass to see into the dayroom stays fogged up so it is hard to get good pictures. Because the dayroom the pandas are in stays around 60 degrees and the outside glass is so hot it stays fogged up.
The elephants there have an orange tint to them because of the good ole Georgia clay all over their enclosure. People always comment on their color.
Before I left I caught the lions running around for a few seconds before they plopped down for a nap. It's rare to see them playing, they usually sleep so much in the heat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zoo visit

If you're ever in the Tampa bay area you have to visit the Lowry Park zoo. Of course in August it's a million degrees with 125% humidity but if you get there early you should see some neat things. There's been a lot of babies this spring and summer. Baby manatees, white tiger cubs, orangutans (the baby just turned one), baby ducks and a baby hippo to name a few.
Last weekend I went to see the new baby rhino that was born on July 7th. Who would have thought a baby rhino could be so cute. She had so much personality and all of the kids were having a great time watching her play.
Going to the zoo for me is not a leisure event. I'm always out to get the best pictures when the animals I want to see are most active. I don't casually follow the path. I started last weekend going straight to the rhino exhibit. They weren't out yet. Ran across to see if the koala was awake. No such luck. Over to the baby tiger cubs (who now look almost fully grown). They were passed out (it was a hot morning). Made a complete circle through the zoo and ended up back at the rhino exhibit. They had just come out. After pictures of the baby rhino it's back to the koala, then to the manatees, etc. I get a good workout.

Starting out

I spend most of my weekends out in a park or the beach in the Tampa Bay area taking pictures of the wildlife or anything interesting I see. I bought my Nikon D60 camera last October and have been slowly learning how to use it. Books have been great. I have the Nikon D60 for Dummies (much more information than the useless manual the camera came with) and David Busch's Nikon D60 photography. I plan to take several classes in the next coming months. I love Flickr as well.

This past weekend I spent some time on Davis Islands walking around the area by the airport and Davis Islands yacht club. There are so many birds there to see. There are always dolphin sightings around that area as well.

The hubby came with me and rode his bike around while I was taking pictures. It was hot but beautiful.
Pictures are of Oystercatcher with a ruddy turnstone and a blue heron. Lots of shorebirds on the jetti this weekend.