This must be one of the first baby blue herons born this spring. He was already adult size but still has the baby white feathers.
This is probably the parent of above telling him to stop showing off.
Blue herons were sitting on nests in the trees and bushes all around the alligator exhibit. That is a tiny nest. How are the babies going to move around without falling out?
Another adult looking for sticks.
I saw a spoonbill looking for sticks. This was not the same adult that had the nest here. This one has a band on his leg. I went back and looked at my pictures of the adults with the babies and neither one had a band. Maybe we’ll have another spoony nest here this spring?
He flew up in the tree with a stick in his mouth and took off across the zoo. I guess he’s building a nest somewhere else. I looked all around the zoo for a spoony but couldn’t find one. Why would he come to the alligator exhibit and get a stick and go somewhere outside the zoo? Why not just get sticks close to were you were building the nest? Crazy bird!
Saw this fun bird in the lorikeet aviary.
Now that’s a mohawk!
I didn’t make it to the zoo for several weeks after my last visit. By the time I got there, the spoonbill nest was empty. I was a little sad I didn’t get to say goodby. They had all flown the coup. They grow up pretty fast. I thought maybe the babies would still be hanging around the area but they were all gone the morning I was there. By now they are out cruising around. There were still a handful of blue herons and tricolored herons sitting on nests so there is still lots of babies to see coming up.
I was told this is a Tennessee Warbler. It looks like it from my Stokes Birding Guide.
If so, it’s a lifer for me.
White eyed vireo singing in the morning.
He was chirping away.
This was my last indigo bunting sighting of the season. These were taken in mid-April.
I saw this guy for a flash of a second so this was all I got. It was the only time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder during all of those trips to the park this spring.
Swallowtail on the flowers.
This guy was jumping around while we were trying to take pictures of the bunting.
This has been a long drawn out migration season. Last spring there were tons of birds in two weekends and then nothing. This spring it’s been a small handful of birds each weekend starting at the end of March and fizzling out near the end of April. I saw a few new birds this spring and met a ton of new people. It’s amazing the bird traffic at Fort Desoto. People come from all over the country during April for a “bird vacation”. Most of the travelers I spoke with were hitting parks all around Florida. At least at Fort Desoto, when you walk out of the woods, you’re on the beach and your “bird vacation” can become a few hours of a “beach vacation”.
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Sick manatees recouping at the manatee hospital. A red tide algae bloom farther south than Tampa has killed over 500 manatees this year by the end of April. The zoo as well as other manatee rehab facilities have been filled to capacity trying to save sick manatees. The algae bloom gets into their lungs and they can’t breathe or float to get air. The lucky ones here will be released at some point once they recover.
You can see them up close.
Turtle basking in the sun. What a cute face!
I saw only a few grasshoppers. Soon the zoo will be covered in them for the summer. This one is leaving a nice trail.
Butterflies are everywhere at the zoo.
Interesting bloom. It almost looks like little candy corns.
Hibiscus in the sun.
I’ve been inspired by Deanna’s blog with her beautiful textures so I’m trying to be a little more creative.
Just a few things I saw on my trip to the zoo to check on the spoonbill babies.
I got out of the car to look for the rare surf scoter that had been spotted here the day before. When I looked in the pond I saw two osprey and it looked like they were taking a bath.
One flew right at me.
The other one flew off but one kept getting in the water.
Up again, all wet.
Flying a few feet.
I didn’t see any fish so it must be taking a bath.
Another flight around the pond.
Then back in the water again. He went in pretty deep.
I did not find the surf scoter. But, I did watch the osprey taking a bath. It was a dark late afternoon. It was about to rain when I stopped by the duck pond near Fort Desoto. When I first got there, two were swimming in the water. Right away one few off. The other one would dip in the water and fly around and do it again. Three times he did this. He was flapping hard and putting his head under the water so he must have been bathing instead of fishing. I guess they get dirty hanging out in trees and utility poles. There wasn’t much else in the pond but a few moorhens and gulls so I left and headed into the park.
The famous osprey nest at Fort Desoto. It’s on top of the old smokestack right at the fishing pier and snack shop. It’s a very visible nest. I think they have the best spot in the park to watch the sun go down every night. It looks like they have eggs. It’s very high up so the babies will have to be pretty big to see them looking over the edge. It looks like the one in the middle was already sleeping.
Pelican before the sun goes down.
“Someone turn out the light.” yells the royal tern.
I think this is an immature herring gull.
Who’s going to win this race? I think they were both heading back in before dark.
Sun going down at the fishing pier.
It was a perfect night.
All of the gulls lining up for bed.
It was a perfect night when I ran down to Fort Desoto after work to look for little birds migrating through in early April. After searching the woods for an hour, I headed to the fishing pier for sunset. This has to be one of the best places in the area to watch the sun go down.
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I was standing on the beach taking pictures of a ruddy turnstone when the long-billed curlew flew right in front of me.
I never get this lucky. He was looking at me like “I’m ready for my photo shoot.”
He already had sand all the way up his beak so he’s been feeding.
I sat down on the sand and watched him dig.
Success. A little sandy crab came out of the hole.
After swallowing that one, he continued to dig.
This one he flipped up in the air like popcorn shrimp.
Still digging. What a pig!
He seemed to want to show me this one up close. He started walking toward me with it in his beak.
He flipped it up to swallow it. After this crab, he started wandering off down the beach so I left him to his feeding.
This ruddy turnstone wanted to get in on the crab action as well. He walked right in front of me showing off his prize.
Another Saturday morning on Fort Desoto beach.
It was weird to see the family casually walking down the trail together. Just like a normal family out for a morning walk.
After strolling a short distance, they stopped and started looking for bugs.
Junior was finding bugs on his own but still getting bugs from the parents.
Strolling across the trail, he looks so grown up.
They started cruising down the trail again. I had to keep getting up and running farther back so I could fit them in with my zoom lens. All of a sudden, Junior started to run and flap.
He was practicing his take offs.
It was funny to watch him do his little burst of practice flying. He did it twice while walking down the trail.
A few seconds later, it was back to finding bugs.
And getting bugs from Mom.
They started strolling down the trail again so I got up and walked around the rest of the park.
Usually I get to Circle B Bar Reserve and think it’s going to take me all morning to find something specific I’m looking for or not at all. I got lucky on this morning. As soon as I walked out of the parking lot and a little ways down the trail I saw them walking towards me. This sandhill crane family only had one baby. I’m not sure if this is the family that started with two and lost one. I had also heard another couple only had one baby so this could be that family as well. I didn’t see another family with two that day but they could be somewhere else in the park. It was such a treat to spend a half hour sitting on the trail and watching this family go about their daily lives. Junior got really excited when he started flapping. By now he’s probably flying. It would be a great thing to see him getting that first lift off but my time getting out there is limited to Saturday mornings so I’m sure I’ll miss it. Maybe one day I can see a sandhill crane taking his first flight.
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