Monday, January 31, 2011

An hour in a cemetery before sundown.

Red bellied woodpecker on the side of a utility pole.

There's a flock of wild parrots that live around the cemetery.

They were looking down at my like "lady what are you doing?"

There also seems to be a pair of raccoons that live in the cemetery.

I couldn't tell what he was chewing on. He wouldn't let me get close.

American kestrel on top of large snag.

The sun was about to go down and the kestral was trying to sleep. (Moon in the background)

I finally saw the eagle sticking it's head out of the nest.

I was able to leave work a little early on the Friday before MLK day and decided to head to the cemetery in St. Petersburg where the eagle's nest was. I had a little more than an hour before the sun was going down and I had to head back to Tampa for dinner. I got there and no eagles were present. I thought "maybe he'll be back with a fish soon." No luck the entire hour. I didn't even see anything on the nest until I was leaving and looked back out of the window of the car and saw a head pop up. I stopped and took the last picture. I've since heard the babies should be hatching some time this week so I'm going to have to make another stop soon. My hour wasn't wasted. It's amazing the amount of wildlife in a cemetery. I guess they don't get a lot of traffic through there on a regular basis although while I was there several cars stopped by to check on the eagles.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birds at Homosassa Springs

A volunteer was feeding the pelicans.

The above pelican had that "Don't come near my nest." look on it's face.

There are 3 permanently injured eagles that live at the park.

Lot's of wild storks come in to get a free handout.

We found a lot of wood ducks swimming around the river near the manatees.

Sandhill crane taking a nap. A volunteer told me that years ago they had a sandhill crane that had been hurt brought to the park for rehabilitation. The crane ended up staying and attracking a wild mate. They had babies and there is now 3 generations of sandhills that live at the park. They could leave anytime they want but they still hang around all year.

How often do you see a red shouldered hawk (left) and red tailed hawk (right) sitting together on a branch? The red tailed was missing a wing.

Besides manatees, the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park has lots of birds. Both wild and rehabilitating permanent residents. You can get really close up to some of them. There's a lagoon in the middle that has flamingos, both white and brown pelicans, storks, swans and sandhill cranes that all hang out together. The brown pelicans were working on their nests while we were there so soon there will be babies to view up close. On a visit last spring I saw a handful of baby swans. There are a lot of volunteers at the park that can answer any questions and told me all kinds of good stories about the birds there. You can also find a lot of wild birds in the park. We saw pileated woodpeckers and warblers as well. I think I'm going to head back in early spring to see any babies that are at the park.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Under water at Homosassa Springs

It's all about the manatees at Homosassa Springs Park.

Upclose manatees swimming by.

My husband was impressed by all of the snook and how well you could see them.

Large groups of manatees huddled together for warmth.

You could see the tail damage on the above. Almost all of the manatees have boat marks on them.

Mom & baby hanging close together.

This manatee was in the hospital tank there.

It's amazing how clear the water is at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. My husband had never been there and I had gone with my family several times when I was growing up so I wanted to bring him there to see it. It was sunny several weekends ago but we had underestimated how much colder it would be an hour north of Tampa. The park had opened the spring gates to let the wild manatees in to the more shallow warmer water. The river was full of them. Walking over the main bridge across the river gives you a chance to see them swimming right underneath you. There's also an observation deck over the deeper part of the river. Tour boats anchor in front of the deck and people get in the water in wet suits and swim with the manatees.

Winter is the best time to visit the park. I stopped by there in late May and the deer flies were biting so bad that no amount of deet was stopping them. Besides the manatees, they also have other animals that have found homes here: otters, alligators, bears, red wolves and tons of birds. But more on the birds later.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Osprey misses a fish - Skywatch Friday

I was at Chesnut Park recently and saw an osprey flying overhead. He seemed to be hovering in one spot. A few seconds later he flew down and went for the fish. He came up empty clawed. I was bummed. I'm sure he was too. I thought he would go for another try but after hovering again for a few minutes he flew off across the lake. Maybe it was peer pressure.

These are the first pictures I took with my new camera. I finally bought the new Nikon D7000. After breezing through the manual, I took off for the park. I made a mental list of things to look up when I got home and spent most of the Saturday afternoon studying it. I think I'm going to like this new camera. It takes up more space on a memory card. When I put a new 8g card in my old D90 it would tell me I could take almost 1,000 pictures with it. When I put in a new 8g with the D7000 it said I could take a little over 500. I'm really going to have to keep my files edited down on my laptop.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chesnut Park birds and animals.

I was walking along the boardwalk and heard a scream. I backed up thinking "that's a hawk close by". I look all around and found the above screaming right above my head.

All of a sudden he notices me. He looks at me like "where'd you come from" and took off.

I found this male anhinga posing on a stump. I like the way his white feathers stick out on his head.

I found this green heron poking around in the reeds.

My goal every time I go to Chesnut Park it to get pictures of the wild deer that live there. This is all I got. I saw it right as it was dashing under the boardwalk and ran deep in the woods. My husband said "Why do you keep taking pictures of deer butts?" Cause that's all I keep seeing. One of these days though...

This small alligator seemed to be smiling at me. Alligators are like dolphins in that they seem to both have a permanent smile on their faces.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More white pelicans before they leave

More white pelican pictures from my New Year's weekend trip at Circle B Bar Reserve. Their visit is such a short one that I've been taking a lot of pictures of them. They may leave as early as mid-February. Last year they were almost all gone by then due to the severe cold winter. They must have gone further south to find more food. Since my trip several weeks ago I've heard there are much fewer there now.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black bellied whistling ducks

Back in my pre-birder days, I thought all ducks looked alike. They were something that floated and quacked. But then I learned that not all ducks quack. Some whistle. Well, it's more like a wheezing noise. At Circle B Bar Reserve, you can hear them flying across the marsh by that distinct sound. The black bellied whistling ducks should win the duck fashion award (yes, I recently watch the Golden Globes) with their pink legs and feet and pink and orange beaks. The brown and creme wings make a nice pattern as well. 

There's a large quantity of them at Circle B right now. More than I've ever seen there at any one time. They were in small groups everywhere. It's funny to watch them stick their bright pink beaks deep into the mud and pull them out all wet and brown. I'm not sure if they nest in Florida. I hope to see some babies this spring.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sandhill cranes at Circle B Bar Reserve

On my New Year's eve trip to Circle B, I found a few sandhill cranes out in an almost dry marsh. There seem to be 2 couples that had crossed paths. Normally, when I see them they are just gracefully grazing and ignore me if they see me. These sandhill cranes were strutting around and honking.  Maybe there was a territorial dispute or maybe they just didn't like each other. It's funny how the feathers on the back of the crane fluff up when they are strutting around. That's their "something's going on" strut. I've heard that one of the couples has now built a nest near the trail so I may have to head back to Circle B in the next couple of weeks. Last year, a couple had one baby that grew up there. I didn't see it until it was much older but it was still brown and fluffy.