In Search of Butterflies and Pelicans

March 4, 2019

On Saturday, Mel  and I both went out in search of butterflies. On Sunday, I went  out alone in search of pelicans. In both cases, I found much more than I had hoped for.

Saturday’s hunt took us both to the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, Florida.  We had last visited about a month ago and now wanted to see what was currently in bloom and what new butterflies had arrived.  

White Peacock Butterfly

The butterfly garden was teeming —mostly with Monarchs and Spicebush Swallowtails, but other varieties as well. There were so many butterflies fluttering about that, for someone like me, with “ADND”, Attention Deficit Nature Disorder’, it was hard to keep my head from spinning off its axis. I am so easily distracted by things moving in my periphery that it took a herculean effort to concentrate on the butterfly in front of me!

After the botanical gardens, we drove another few miles down the road to explore Eagle Lake Park which has a 2,000 foot boardwalk over some restored wetlands and a 12 ft wide recreation trail coursing through the park. We were particularly interested in the wetlands for picture opportunities, but were pleasantly surprised to find butterflies along the trail.

Happily, I wasn’t on the boardwalk more than a few minutes before I got my very best shot of the day—a brilliant Eastern Amberwing dragonfly perched on a limb in the shady water below me with just the right amount of sunshine highlighting its wings.

Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly at Eagle Lake Park
Damselfly

On Sunday, I went out on my own in search of pelicans by walking a mile or so downtown to Coffee Pot Park, which is situated along a bayou that leads out to Tampa Bay.  Not far into the bayou is a large rookery, or bird preserve. Unfortunately, it’s an island and the only way to get close-ups of the birds would be to rent a canoe or a kayak.

I was surprised to see this large pelican perched on these spindly branches high in a tree.

For this excursion, at least, I’d have to be content with taking pictures from the shoreline. Mostly, I wanted to capture shots of pelicans flying, but any bird that wanted to stop by would have been welcome to do so. A few actually did.

A funny little Laughing Gull who stopped by for a photo shoot!

After the bayou, I wanted to see if there were still  any pelicans hanging out back at Crescent Lake–and I wanted to see how ‘my’ seven duck eggs were doing. But since I was still traveling on foot, it would  take me awhile to get there.

Brown Pelican looking for lunch

Once I arrived at Crescent Lake, the  pelicans were easy to spot and so were many of the other ‘regulars’—like the great blue heron, the crested mallard, the cormorants and the limpkins. Sadly though, ‘my’ seven little eggs were all missing!! Kidnapped, I suspect. The nest was completely cleared but with no forensic evidence to identify who the culprit was. The lack of egg shell remains or guts made me think that the eggs had probably been taken by a person rather than an animal. But why? I was really disappointed and saddened to find them gone; I had really hoped to watch my little  ducks grow up. 

Osprey overhead!
White Ibises overhead!

On another note altogether, by the time I got home late in the day, my walking app said that I had chalked up over eleven miles or 27,515 steps—three miles for errands, eight for pictures! Surprisingly though, the calories it said I had burned along the way didn’t even cover the giant bowl of ice cream I gobbled down when I got home!

Brown Pelican in Coffee Pot Bayou

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