Monday, August 30, 2010

Variety at Kapok Park

Glossy ibis yawning.

Hawk hiding in a tree.

You can always count on an anhinga sitting in a park.

Cowbird in a small tree.

Two juvenile moorhens heading towards me.

Juvenile moorhens hanging together.
I stopped by Kapok Park after work in between the rain storms last week. I didn't think I'd see much there but I did manage to find a few birds. The glossy ibis was a nice surprise. I have never seen them there before. There were several moorhen families with juveniles together. I didn't see very many ducks and the park is usually filled with them. I saw the hawk for about a second and then it flew off and headed out of the park. I looked for the great horned owls but could not find them. Hopefully they'll be back soon and we'll have another baby this winter.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dancing reddish egret

The reddish egrets have got to be one of the most animated birds there are. And the one above has got to be one of the most photographed at Fort Desoto. The north beach marsh at Fort Desoto was at low tide. I walked up and sat down on the sand and watched this egret for at least half an hour. He kept jumping around back and forth. He looked like he would take off and then stick his head under the water and come up with a fish. They lift their wings up to shade the water so they can see the fish better. They do it so gracefully. This one kept sort of half flying around. He almost seemed to be performing for me. He was also eating quite a bit of fish. He slowed down after a while and stopped to preen. I headed down the beach to find my hubby.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Fort Desoto beach

Beautiful sea oats at Fort Desoto beach. This was taken 2 weekends ago. I think it might have been the last time I saw blue sky and the sun. It's been raining almost every day since.

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Another trip to my favorite place, Fort Desoto. It was very hot and there were hardly any shorebirds around. I only had my small point and shoot in the beach bag so I didn't take a lot of pictures. Hubby and I were sitting in our beach chairs and a ranger pulls up in a truck near us and starts to rope off the above turtle nest site. I was tempted to run over and ask him how he knew there was a turtle nest there. It was in the middle of a row of sand dunes. I guess early that morning someone noticed a turtle track leading there and notified them. I stopped and took a picture as we were leaving. The little grasshopper was sitting close by.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Frigatebirds near Fort Desoto

Before you drive into Fort Desoto you pass several ponds. The above were flying high over the ponds recently. My husband calls frigate birds "the mean birds" because they steal food from other seabirds as they are flying in mid air. They also steal baby chicks from the nest to eat. They do not swim and cannot walk well so they rely on other birds for food. The only place I've seen them in the wild is at Fort Desoto and only recently. Last summer we saw a few flying high up in the sky. Last weekend there were 40-50 of them soaring over the ponds. There's almost always someone on the side of the road taking pictures of them.
The first picture is of a male who is all black and has a orange pouch under his beak that turns red and puffs out when he is mating. The ones with the white are females. There seemed to be more females than males flying around. Maybe the males where somewhere else watching a baseball game.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hot night at Lake Seminole Park

The usual dragonfly.

Great egret posing. He must be used to all of the people at the park. He didn't even flinch when I stopped to take his picture.

Tri color heron landing in the reeds. Taken into the sun right before sunset.

Great egret flying across the lake.

Juvenile moorhen screaming for a snack. I love their big yellow feet.

A large group of ducks waiting for a handout. The stick in the upper middle is a big sign that says "Do not feed the wildlife, including ducks." People ignore it. There's a spot at the lake near a small parking lot that the ducks congregate at. People park there and feed the ducks. The ducks are very aggressive and will charge at your ankles if you don't feed them.

I stopped off at Lake Seminole Park one day last week to check on the limpkin nest. I had been there 2 weeks before and there were several eggs in a nest built on a shallow section of the lake. I wanted to see if the eggs had hatched. Since it had been raining every day for a week the nest was under 2 feet of water. I couldn't see from the boardwalk if the eggs were still there so I don't know if they had already hatched and the family had moved on. I didn't see any limpkins on that end of the lake which is unusual. Sad, hot and depressed I started the walk back to my car. I was thinking I wouldn't find any birds around but I did manage to see a few before I left.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shorebirds on the causeway

Young royal tern making a racket.

First year least tern that's been banded. I couldn't see the numbers on these bands.

Another least tern with only one band.

Marbled godwit.

Cute little plover.
The Courtney Campbell Causeway is starting to get an influx of different shorebirds. I stopped by there after work one day last week when it was about to rain so there wasn't too many people on the small beach on the Clearwater side. Lots of young birds there that aren't in full adult colors yet. The least tern's beak will turn yellow after it's first year. Migration season is starting so I'm going to try and hit this little beach and Gandy beach after work for the next couple of weeks to see if I can find some different birds. I heard common terns and gull-billed terns hanging around so I'm going to try and find them.

Black terns in the Tampa bay area.

Last week I saw my first black tern. I had read on that there were hundreds on the Gandy beach as well as some on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. I wasn't able to get there until a few days later. There were about 20 hanging around with other gulls and terns. I missed the big migration of hundreds but it was neat to see a few of them. Only a few were still all black in breeding colors (1st picture). The rest were now in non-breeding colors with a lot of white on the head and chest. Apparently they migrate through area. I've never seen them on the gulf beaches before. It's weird that they would pick an intown area to stop and rest.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Storm on the way

This has been the view on the way home from work for a while. It's either raining or about to rain. I pulled onto the access road on the causeway to take the picture of the rainbow. As I was snapping I stopped to chimp (yes, check to see if my pictures looked okay). I noticed the below great blue heron in front of me in the water. It looked like he had something in his mouth. I only had my small point and shoot with me so I couldn't zoom in to closely. It looks like some type of shrimp.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A week from the dining room window

Last Wednesday night I came home from work and peaked out the dining room window. I was expecting to see the osprey sitting on my neighbor's sailboat mast but instead there was a green heron on the boat.

I think he saw me taking his picture. He stood up and posed.

Thursday night I came home to pouring rain. I peaked out the dining room window again and saw a blue heron standing on the boat. He didn't stay long.

Saturday morning I woke up and saw that the green heron was on the boat again.

Sunday afternoon I looked out and saw a big log floating in front of our dock. It had a small shorebird sitting on it. It was about to rain so I quickly ran outside to get a picture. It's a spotted sandpiper. We had one hanging around our neighbor's dock last summer for a few weeks. He stayed for a couple of hours and then the tide took the pole out of our channel and he floated out with it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Swallow tail kites in my neighborhood

These are the first pictures (and not great at that) I have ever taken of swallow tail kites. It's the first time I've seen them up close. Last weekend the hubby and I were driving into our neighborhood, back from running errands and I saw 2 of them flying around a house. I yelled for him to pull over. I had my small point and shoot in the car so I grabbed that and jumped out of the car and started snapping. The sun was in my eyes and I could barely see what I was shooting. Hubby was watching them and said "Wow, that bird just grabbed a baby bird from a nest high in the tree." I told him it was common for raptors to eat baby birds and he said "How can bird eat another bird?" I said "It's all food to them." We quickly drove home a couple of blocks away and I ran in and got my other camera and long lens. I headed back to the entrance of the neighborhood and saw them flying high in the sky away from me. That was the last we've seen of them since but I'll keep my eyes out for them now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moorhen family - Cute baby

I stopped by the zoo last weekend in between the rain storms and found this cute moorhen family. It looks like there was an older sibling in the family. Moorhens often have 2 broods a year. They were swimming in the gibbon pond and stayed close together. That little baby definitely has a face only a mother could love.