Central Florida Wildlife PT.6

The time had come to leave the Sarasota area. I had promised my little sister I would spend my last Florida weekend with her in Tampa. My new Bayonne buddies suggested that Fort De Soto Park, just a few miles off the highway,  was a worthy stop as I headed north. They knew another Bald Eagle pair nested there and had heard rumors a Great Horned Owl was sitting on eggs. Even though I left fairly early, I was well aware a sunrise at the new site was not in my future. I had been pushing hard for a week and a half and was starting to drag a bit. Wanting to make sure to be on top of my game for my high-energy sister, I decided this day would be a cruise control  type of pace.

Located just outside St. Petersburg, this park was a key that jutted into the Gulf of Mexico providing ample strolling of the beaches. Sea birds abounded but I was much more interested in finding the Great Horned Owl. After stumbling around for an hour, I ran into a maintenance crew who were nice enough to point me in the right direction. There were already two guys with tripods set up when I arrived. Once again I had the good fortune to encounter local photographers willing to share their knowledge with me. According to Jim Gray who had a zoology background, the incubation period should be concluding with the chicks making their first appearance any moment. As we talked, Jim’s friend proudly announced that one of Jim’s bird images graced the new Audubon national calendar. I made a mental note to be sure to check out Jim’s website at my first opportunity. Wow!! If you take the time to browse  http://jimgrayimages.com , I promise you will not be wasting your time.

Reddish Egret

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Reddish Egret chasing lunch.

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Sometimes it takes many appetizers to make a meal.

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Meanwhile, a sharp-eyed Pelican circled overhead.

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Buried in the crotch of this tree, the Great Horned Owl was nearing the end of the 33 day incubation marathon on the leaf and feather nest made for her eggs. She gave new meaning to the term ” eyes in the back of your head” by pivoting 180 degrees to look at us.

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Although dappled sunlight is usually a photographer’s nightmare, you have to deal with whatever circumstances exist especially on a predominately dreary day.

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You can’t always get lucky. If I didn’t pack up, the massive gridlocked highway rush hour traffic would have precluded the scheduled dinner plans my sister had made. No problem, Jim Gray wasn’t going to miss the arrival of the new chicks and I was fortunate enough to have his website!!

3 responses

  1. aliforman

    Steve Thanks for sharing these Florida pics and stories. Also for the link to Jim Gray’s site, that was a fortunate meet up. You two have a similar style of photographs and humorous titles!! ina

    March 10, 2014 at 12:20 am

  2. Sue

    Those shots of the horned owl on the nest are great! And a handsome egret as well.

    March 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm

  3. This is my favorite! I love owls and that nesting horned owl is amazing. Thanks for sharing! Kathy

    March 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

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