Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hoodies down the street

On my way home, I pass a small pond that leads into an office complex. Mallards are usually the only ducks I see swimming in it. Recently, I was riding in the car with hubby and looked over at the pond as we drove by it and saw hooded mergansers swimming in it. Of course, I yell out "There are hoodies in the pond." A couple of minutes later we were home and I grabbed my camera and drove back to pond. Since it was a Sunday afternoon there was no one around so I parked in the office lot along the side of the road against the pond. I rolled down the window and took all of the above from the car. Even though I stayed in the car, they still kept their eyes on me and stayed on the other side of the pond. At one point the male started diving underneath and came up with a berry of some sort. As I was leaving, I noticed the below tricolored heron was over on the side of the pond in the reeds. He must have been thinking "What is that crazy lady doing in her car?"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Osprey and a parakeet - Skywatch Friday

"What's that in the sky? It's a bird, a plane? An annoying parrokeet trying to steal my nest?"

"I'm going to steal that osprey's nest all by myself since I don't know where all my friends went."

"I'm here now. Isn't that the Florida law? Once you establish residence, no one can kick you out?"

"That silly parakeet better not come around our nest. We'll serve him up to the eagle since we only eat fish."

I had read on a Florida bird forum post that there was a large flock of monk parakeets trying to take over an osprey nest at the Derby Lane parking lot in St. Petersburg. I stopped by there on a Saturday afternoon and only found one lone parakeet. All of the others might have been out feeding or just flown the coupe. There are at least 8 osprey nests in the parking lot light towers there. Only two had osprey sitting on them. It's a little early for osprey nesting but in another month or two that lot will be filled with osprey starting to couple up. The lone parakeet was sitting on a wire at first but then kept flying over to the nest and landing on the bottom of the branches. I could hear the osprey yelling but I don't know if that was because of the parakeet or another osprey flying overhead. There are large flocks of monk parakeets all over the St. Petersburg area. They are pretty when they fly by and you see a big flash of green but they are so loud. Since this lot is close by work, I'm going to keep tabs on it during the winter and spring to see if any baby osprey arrive.

For more skyscape photography from around the world, visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cute or creepy?

I was driving into my neighborhood coming home from taking pictures one afternoon and I saw three little raccoons on the sidewalk. They were rummaging around in some bushes at the front of an apartment complex right before my street. I pulled over and took some pictures from my car. They looked awful scrawny and little. I wonder if these were three siblings who had lost their parents. I'm sure they are old enough by now to fend for themselves. They stayed pretty close together. I showed these to a friend who shrugged and said "They're just really big rats." I said "But look how cute they are?"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shorebirds at Fort Desoto

Sandwich terns. I think that first one is yawning.

This little bird was hopping around on one leg. If he had one raised it was well hidden and he hopped around for while.

Ring billed gull posing for me. I've just recently started seeing them again. We don't see them very often here in the summer.

Red knots feeding along the shore. Several of them are banded with lime green tags. I looked them up and reported them and one of them spends summers in New Jersey and winters at Fort Desoto. The other two had only been reported around the central gulf coast.

More busy red knots. The one on the left stuck his face all the way in the sand.

A couple of weekends before Christmas I headed down to Fort Desoto to look around. The morning started out cloudy but a little later the sun started peaking out. The was nothing unusual at the park but I was excited to see a small flock of red knots at the north end of the beach. They were walking right along the shoreline and not really paying attention to me. Luckily there wasn't anyone else around to spook them. I think the wind and clouds had kept people away. I watched them for a while and then later when I was editing the pictures, I noticed the green tags on several of the birds. I reported them on the Florida Shorebird alliance website, which takes you to the Bandedbirds link. It was fun to see where they had been. I still would like to get pictures of the red knots in their summer breeding colors (which turns them a burnt red or orange color). They are pretty rare to find here since they are mostly here in the winter and by then they are in the lighter colors.

Also, check out more birds at CLICK THIS PICTURE!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Florida animals light up the night.

Merry Christmas from Florida!

The Florida Botanical Gardens, in Largo, puts on a nice light show for the holidays. The main gardens are small but packed with lights. I stopped by there after work and it was packed with people. There were carolers, food vendors and craft tables set up. They definitely do it in Florida style. I think it kicked off my holiday spirit. It usually doesn't feel like Christmas until I get to Atlanta on Christmas eve to stay with hubby's family. Since I work in retail, November and December are crazy work months and I don't want to spend the time thinking about holiday stuff. I don't bother decorating my house because we aren't home for the holidays and I'd rather take that rare off time to be out shooting than inside decorating. And for me, it's still hard to get in the mood when it's 80 degrees outside. Once we get to Atlanta, it's a bit colder, the in-laws' house is decorated and I can finally take a deep breath.

Have a great Holiday and thanks for stopping by!

Cloudy windy day at Fort Desoto

Redhead ducks. The one on the far left is the male.

Short video of a ruddy turnstone trying to eat a dead fish on the beach.

Now the ring billed gull is trying to decide whether he should take a bite.

Camouflaged bird in the old washed up seaweed. I'm going with least sandpiper on this one.

Short video of a plover taking a bath.

It was a quiet cloudy day at Fort Desoto. Since the sun wasn't out and it was windy, it kept the people away. It was nice to have the place almost all to myself. I stopped by the duck ponds before you drive into the park and all I have found was a huge flock of redheads. The usual coots, moorhens and mallards were there along with a handful of ring neck ducks. I was hoping to see something more unusual like northern shovelers but if they were they, they were hiding. My first stop in Fort Desoto was the east beach turnaround on the bay side. All I could find was a few shorebirds and ring billed gulls. Next I headed to the north beach marsh. More on that later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Boyd Hill butterfly and birds - Skywatch Friday

Still a lot of butterflies around.

Pine warbler

Which one doesn't belong? That anhinga is telling the great egret to get off his statue.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge from far away. Yes, I took this right into the sun!

Large flock of ruddy turnstones. I don't think I've ever seen more than 2 or 3 together at a time.

It's still pretty warm down here. It would be nice if it would at least stay below 70 degrees for a while. My Saturday morning walk around Boyd Hill Nature Preserve warmed up fast. I had on a tshirt and pants but after 15 minutes I was wishing I had on a tank top and shorts. I'm such a native now. It's 70 outside and I think I have to wear a jacket. Boyd Hill was pretty quiet with birds so I headed down to the end of the street it's off of and found a small park with a boat ramp that faces the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Of course, by then it was after 11am so the sun was right in my eyes. There was nothing interesting there so I didn't stay long. 

For more skyscape photography from around the world, visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Animals at Chesnut Park

This squirrel was taking a nap in the sun. He didn't move when I walked by but eventually he left when more people came by.

The only shot of a deer far off in the woods. I stood there for at least 15 minutes hoping they would wander closer to the boardwalk. Just as they were about to hit a clear spot in the woods a bunch of loud people came walking by and spooked the deer and off they went deeper in the woods.

I think this is a yellow rumped warbler.

Male cardinal sitting pretty. They love to pose.

Pileated woodpecker.

I try and get out fairly early in the morning. I hit Chesnut Park around 8:30 am. I know that's late by most birder standards but I need my sleep. It was a little cool out (cool for us Floridians anyway) and there really wasn't too many people out. I try and walk quietly so I can hear the birds calling. I don't know any of the tiny birds by sound but at least I know they are there and where to look for them. I know the bigger bird sounds such as red bellied woodpeckers, pileateds, hawks, cardinals and herons (I love the way great blue herons honk when they fly off). I hear some little peeps high in the trees and quietly wait for them to get close. Just as a raise my camera and try and get a shot, here come a bunch of loud walkers. The ones in the back want the ones in the front to hear what they are saying. Off flies the little birdies before I get a shot.  Later down the boardwalk it happens again only this time its a group of nordic walkers banging their walking sticks loudly on the boardwalk. Or better, someone walks by with their barking dog when there are large signs that say "No dogs on the boardwalk." I do love Chesnut Park. It has a lot of great wildlife for such a busy park. It's the only place close to my house where I can see deer and not get shot at. But it can really challange a photographer's patience.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Backyard visitors

Green heron on my dock. You can see the neighbor's pool slide behind him.

The female kingfisher was yelling about something. That's her "I'm on alert." pose with her tail sticking up in the air. Once she saw me in the window she took off down the channel.

Juvenile red shouldered hawk on my neighbor's dock.

Yuck! It was so windy that morning, the osprey couldn't carry that big old fish all the way up to the top of the sail mast so he stopped on one of the bars lower down on mast.

Just a few birds from my backyard last weekend. All pictures taken through a window, either the bedroom or dining room.

Also, check out more birds at CLICK THIS PICTURE!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Big Gulp!

"Oh no, here comes a car. She'd better not steal my fish."

"If I flip it just right, it should go down pretty easy."

"I wonder if she has any hot sauce."

"No? Well, here goes another bland fish meal."

"I'm gonna have heartburn for a week."

I was leaving Boyd Hill Nature Park in south St. Petersburg after a two hour walk and decided to drive over to the other side of the lake where it looked like there was a park there. It was mostly just a boat ramp with lots of parking. There wasn’t much there but lots of coots and cormorants. I was thinking to myself “I’ll just drive through the parking lot and leave.” As I pass the boat ramp I see a great blue heron in the water facing the lake. All of sudden he turned around with a big fish in his mouth. I pulled up right in front of him but was afraid if I got out of my car it would spook him and he would fly off. So all of the above were taken while sitting in my car. It took him a few minutes to swallow that big fish. I think he was waiting for it to stop flopping around in his mouth. After his big gulp, he wandered back into the water and I drove off heading for home and lunch.