Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sandhill Cranes

Earlier last week I was headed to Lake Seminole Park and saw these 3 sandhill cranes wandering around by the St. Petersburg College in Seminole. Of course I did a u turn and stopped in a parking lot nearby to take pictures. These birds were so graceful and did not seem to be afraid of all of the people walking by (which is a little scary). You don't see sandhill cranes that often in Pinellas county. They are more of an inland bird than coastal bird. These are my first decent pictures of this bird. I rarely see them in the coastal parks I usually go to. When I showed the pictures to my husband he said "Oh, I see those on golf courses all the time." So much for excitement.

Mated pairs stay together year round so this might be a couple and their offspring from last winter. Hopefully if they stay for the winter we might see a baby or two next spring.

Monday, December 28, 2009

White pelican update

The white pelicans are now at Circle B Bar Reserve in large numbers. Some say in the thousands. It's really amazing to see a lake full of white pelicans all swimming together. They are constantly flying around in circles or flying back and forth between the lakes there.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flowers and small birds

Palm warbler in the grass.

Mockingbird posing (as usual).

I think this is a grey gnatcatcher.

Dead flowers in the field.

Flowers trying to survive the wind.
Before we left for Atlanta to visit relatives for Christmas I visited the Circle B Bar reserve in Lakeland. It was cold and windy on Tuesday morning. There wasn't a lot of people there, nor animals around for that matter. For the first time ever I did not see a single alligator there. They must have been hiding under water. I did manage to catch a few pictures of smaller birds. The flock of white pelicans there seem to be growing. More on those later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lake Seminole Park

White duck looking for a handout.

Lone limpkin

Grebe all wet from diving under for food.

Great blue heron trying to hide in the reeds.
Saturday morning I paid a visit to Lake Seminole Park. I hadn't been there in while. It was pretty cold and windy when I got there. I wasn't sure if I would see much wildlife. There were a handful of birds there. The usual osprey, herons and ducks. This past spring there was an osprey nest with babies and a great blue heron nest with babies at the large center pond. I'll have to check again this spring to see if they are back. When I was driving out of the park I saw a big group of ducks by one of the small parking areas. I pulled in to see what kind of ducks where there. As soon as I drove into a parking spot the ducks all came running to the car. They have obviously been feed there often. When I got out with my camera they came running up to me as if to attack my feet. I jumped back in the car and took a few pictures from the window. The ironic thing is there is a big sign there that says "Do not feed the wildlife" with a picture of a duck.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Low Tide

Night heron walking along the shore of Courtney Campbell Causeway at low tide.

Great blue heron

Abandoned sailboat sitting on the sand in low tide.

Tourist feeding the seagulls on the causeway at low tide.

The tide has been very low this past few days. At noon on Monday I was driving across the Courtney Campbell Causeway (from Clearwater to Tampa) and stopped to take a few pictures. There were a handful of birds braving the wind. They were out on the sand looking for food. There weren't too many fisherman since there was not a lot of water close to the road. It will probably stay this way during the day for a month or two.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cold windy day

Osprey flapping in the wind.

Seagulls resting on a quiet dock.

Birds feeding around a fire hydrant on Davis Islands.

You can almost always find oystercatchers around Davis Islands.

Willet looking at himself.

Bad hair day.

Brett & I decided to brave the cold (yes, here it's cold at 55 degrees) and wind late Sunday afternoon and get some excercise walking around Davis Islands by the airport. A huge blanket of clouds hid the sun right after we got there so it got even colder. We lasted about an hour. There were still a handfull of birds around. I figured they would all head for Miami. I would have if I could fly off anywhere at anytime.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Backyard birds

I came home from work Friday just before dark and this little kingfisher was sitting on my backyard fence. I took these pictures through the bedroom window.

Then it started to rain. He still sat there for a while. He left before dark.

Then Saturday morning I peeked out the bedroom window and this immature ibis was eating bugs in our backyard.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Circle B Bar Part 4 - other animals

There were turtles everywhere.

Black racer on the trail.

Smaller alligator on the trail.

The big one in the bird pod.

The big one up close.

There are lots of other animals at Circle B besides birds and ducks. Sunday I saw at least 10 alligators. Turtles were everywhere in the water. Several people reported raccoons there on Sunday. I've also heard about many other animals that are there but I haven't seen yet: otters, raccoons, foxes and wild pigs. The wild pigs come out on the trail when it gets dark. A group of 10 wild pigs were sited recently by someone taking sunset pictures there.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Circle B Bar Part 3 - White Pelicans

White pelicans overhead.

The sky was full of white pelicans.

Solo flight.

White pelicans flying in the fog.

Pelicans far away on the other side of the lake at Circle B Bar. This was taken with my 500mm and severly cropped so they were staying away from humans.

One of the best things right now to see at Circle B are the white pelicans that have migrated there. Some say there are thousands there for the winter. These birds have come from east of the Rocky Mountains from Illinois to as far north as Canada for the winter. They tend to stay away from humans unlike the brown pelicans which can beg for food. They also do not plunge dive for their food like the brown pelicans do. They swim around for their food and scoop water and fish into their pouch and are usually in lakes or ponds. (Although I have heard there is flock hanging out at Fort Desoto right now.) They are so beautiful when they are flying. They seem to glide instead of rapid flapping. Sunday morning at Circle B they were flying over our heads in large groups from one lake to another. A couple of hours later they were flying in the opposite direction. Even in the fog it was amazing to see.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Circle B Bar Part 2 - Bird variety

Spoonbills, ibis and storks taking a morning nap.

Glossy ibis

Sandhill crane from far away.

Eagle soaring overhead. He was really high up.

Red tailed hawk hiding in the moss.

Great blue heron having breakfast.
More Sunday morning pictures from the Circle B Bar flickr meet-up above. It amazes me how many different types of birds you can see there just walking around. I'm sure there are others I didn't see. There is so much activity in the morning. The bird marsh had it's usual spoonbills, storks and ibis hanging around in it. There were osprey, hawks and eagles constantly flying overhead.

Here's a list of birds that I saw there: spoonbills, whistling ducks, storks, great egrets, great blue heron, warbler, white pelicans, blue winged teal ducks, hawk, eagles, sandhill cranes, grackle, red winged blackbirds, moorhens, cormorants, vultures, caspian terns, ring billed gulls, sparrows, glossy ibis, white ibis, osprey, kingfisher, woodpeckers and grebes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Circle B Bar Part 1 - Fog

Spiderwebs in the fog.

Fog at Circle B Bar Reserve. You could still see all of the amazing yellow flowers everywhere.
Black bellied whistling ducks stomping around in the mud during the fog. This was one parent (orange beak) with 2 immature ones. They don't get their orange beak until later.

Great egret scratching in the fog.

Hiding in the fog - spoonbill, stork and black bellied whistling duck.

Spoonbill flying overhead in the fog.
This Sunday morning I went to a flickr meet-up at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. There were about 22 other photographers there. When I got there it was very foggy. At first I was bummed that it was so foggy but when I started walking out to the trail I noticed how everything was covered with spiderwebs. You could really see them because the moisture from the fog was on them. It almost looked like there was snow everywhere (except for the 80 degrees). I met up with everyone out at the bird pond. Most of the birds were sleeping (which is what we should have been doing). It was a challenge for me to get any shots of anything. I was able to get some of the above which shows wildlife a little differently.
There were so many different types of birds there. It's such an amazing place. The fog eventually lifted and I took so many pictures that morning. I'm breaking up this visit into several parts. Keep an eye out for Part 2.