Monday, February 28, 2011

Foggy morning at Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

One of the hundreds of northern gannets affected by the oil spill recouperating. The sanctuary released a handful of the few remaining this past week.

Great egret eating at the beach entrance to the sanctuary. Not sure if it caught the fish itself or stole it from the santuary.

Laughing gulls in the fog on the beach.

It was a quiet morning on the beach due to the fog and impending storm.

Flying in the fog. There's always some kid chasing after the poor birds, even in the fog.

Fog on the beach is kinda cool (unless you're a tourist trying to get a tan). Luckly for me (and the tourist), most weekends right now are nice. But recently, on my trip to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, it was foggy until late in the morning. There weren't too many people out walking on the strip of beach that the sanctuary sits on. The beach was full of gulls hiding out until the fog lifted. It's hard to get good pictures in the fog, everything looks gray in the background. But, still, even a foggy walk on the beach is pretty great.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sandhill Cranes on a busy road.

I was driving on a very busy road in north Pinellas recently and saw a pair of sandhill cranes walking along the road. I had heard several times that sandhill cranes get hit by cars frequently on East Lake road. I always thought "What's going on up there?"  Yes, cars drive fast along this road when traffic is not at a stand still. The sandhill cranes were walking really close to the road, almost looking like they would wander out in traffic. I drove past them and pulled into a parking lot. I got out and took a couple of pictures of them while I was standing just outside my car. I stayed pretty far away because I didn't want to spook them and have them start to fly out in traffic. These picture were taken at Keystone Road and East Lake Road. I know Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary has taken in several of these bird in the recent year trying to save them when they get hit. Signs should be put up to warn drivers - Beware of deer, bobcats, panthers, owls, cranes. In other words - Slow Down!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Baby pelicans

The proud parents.

Mom, don't sit on me.

Shhh! Sleeping twins.

Busy parents.

Up close. This pelican has pretty colors on it's face.

He was feeding the injured pelicans and stopped to give this one a head scratch. The pelican was in heaven and didn't want him to stop.

I had heard there were baby pelicans at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. The big pen with all of the permanently injured pelicans has nests set up all around it. When I stopped by on a recent rainy, foggy morning there were several nests that had babies on them.  In a couple of months, the sanctuary will open the nets on the top of the pen for the babies to fly out. At that point they can come and go as they please. I think most take off and are gone for good. A few stick around for the free handouts. Baby pelicans are cute with all of that white fuzz. They look like little piles of marshmallows. I want to try and get back when they get a little bigger to see them walking around.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Duck, duck....(no goose) - Skywatch Friday

Black bellied whistling ducks flying by.

Black bellied whistling duck staring at me. What is it about these ducks that are so cute?

The marsh fields were full of black bellies right before sunset. They all had their heads stuck deep in the muck feeding when a hawk came flying overhead screaming. All of their heads shot up and searched the sky. They seemed very concerned.  After a few minutes they went back to eating. I shot this far away across  the field. They were all standing at attention.

Ring necked duck. I don't see these very often.

Blue winged teal with a little green showing.

Blue winged teal staring at me.

Lots of ducks at Circle B Bar Reserve right now. They are reporting record numbers of black bellied whistling ducks. The marsh fields were full of them on my late afternoon trip recently. There's such a huge variety of ducks there. The ponds are also full of coots. Soon most of these ducks will be migrating back home to the north. 

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Northern Shoveler family at Circle B Bar Reserve

If you saw them from a distance you would probably think these were regular mallards or mottled ducks.  If you see them up close from the side or back you might think that as well. When they turn towards you, you think "My, what a big bill you have." Northern shovelers have big flat bills compared to mallards.  It's a fairly common duck in America but I've only seen one or heard they were around twice. The first was at Fort Desoto and that was from very far away. They are migraters who live in the summer in the northern part of the country so I suspect this little family will be gone soon. They were found at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland just off Wading Bird Trail.  The male is the one with the green head.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rainy morning in a cemetery

Blue jay sitting on a snag.

Dove sitting on a grave marker.

Eagle sitting on the nest.

A pair of pileated woodpeckers sitting on a tree.

Pileated woodpecker sitting on a utility pole.

Two weekends ago we had nasty weather all weekend.  Saturday morning I woke up to dark gray skies. I checked the weather on line and it looked like I had until sometime around lunch before the rain hit. I decided to head down to the St. Petersburg cemetery to check on the eagle's nest. Only one of the eagles were present sitting on the nest. There were two other people there that had also stopped by. They both had heard there were babies but they were not big enough to see yet. Even though the other eagle did not show up while I was there, I saw several other birds. Three pileated woodpeckers stopped by all at one time. That's the most I have seen together. Two stayed together and the other was close by. After waiting around for over an hour for the other eagle, I decided to leave and head to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary before the rain hit. 

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

A weekend with a kingfisher

These were taken a couple of weekends ago.  It's the last time I've seen the kingfisher in our neighborhood. I hope she hasn't gone home yet. I need to tell her it's still snowing up north so she might as well stay a little longer.  I finally got a picture of her with a fish. She caught it and then kept banging it on the wall to kill it before she swallowed it.  She took it down the channel so I didn't get to see her swallow it but she came back a couple of hours later and hung around for a while. I don't see how that fish could fit in her little body.

The osprey was trying to eat his fish on our neighbor's dock while the kingfisher was banging on hers.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I otter be in pictures.

I was walking down Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve and saw this coming out of the water.

That otter has something in his mouth. The great blue heron wandered over to see what it was. And probably wanted to try and steal it.

The otter started chowing down on his catch.

A little otter pops up!

I was trying to get a shot of what the otter was eating. It's a siren (id'd by my flickr contacts) which is a type of eel with legs.  Creeepy!  When I downloaded the shot I noticed the little one was sticking his head in the shot like "Get me in the picture too."

Short video of the otter eating.

As many times as I have been to Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, I had yet to see the famous otters. My first trip there in late afternoon proved to be a winner. It was after 5pm and I was just starting to head back across the long trail to the nature center and parking lot when I heard something splashing in the water.  I looked over and saw the otter swimming towards the dead reeds. I was so excited I just started snapping away. The otter plopped down right in front of me and started to eat. The eel kept trying to slither away so at first the otter was having a hard time. Then a few minutes later another smaller otter showed up and seemed to be waiting patiently for leftovers. There was a big crowd watching by the time I left, about 30 minute later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Amazing Circle B Bar Reserve - Skywatch Friday

These blue-gray gnatcatchers are so cute. He was like "Look up in the sky."

Ring billed gull eating a fish on the trail.

Limpkin walking around the trail with a snail.

My first decent American bittern picture. This is only the 2nd time I've seen this type of bird. The first was probably the same bird. It has been hanging around near the intersection of Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while now. They are really hard to spot because they blend in so well and don't move for hours but if you're there on the weekends just look for the group of photographers taking pictures at that intersection.

Circle B has several bald eagle nests but they are very far away.

This one was a pretty decent size.

I took this looking north across the marsh on Wading Bird Trail. Usually, this area is full of coots but for some reason it was nice and quiet that afternoon.

I had never been to Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland in the afternoon. Only in the morning and I'm usually on my way home by noon. One Sunday recently it was just too nice to sit inside and watch my husband watch golf on tv. I decided to head out for a long walk at Circle B. I thought the trip might be a bust since everything would be hiding and napping in the afternoon. It was late enough that all the animals were up and moving around. I saw a few things there that I had not seen before including northern shovelers. I'll be posting more on those later and also have an otter video to post later. Next time I go I think I might have to pack a lunch and spend the whole day there.

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